From The President

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January 2020

Here we are at the end of another busy and successful year for the Yaphank Historical Society. We look forward to a busy and successful 2020. This past year we have been completing work on the Homan-Gerard House. This project has been underway for the last seven years as we worked to save this National Register house. We have finally gotten it done and had our grand opening in October, 2019. We were lucky to have others who understood the historical importance of this house. The project was a collaboration between Suffolk County, the Yaphank Historical Society and a considerable number of volunteers.

First, Suffolk County stepped up and stabilized the house, making it safe for workers and they also produced required architectural drawings. The project then stopped for a couple of years due to funding. The Society applied for and received a grant from the Gerry Foundation to help us restore the windows. Most windows were saved; others were replicated. The Society was also able to secure a $300,000 Grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, which required matching funds from the County. This matching grant enabled us to address much of the restoration. However, all these monies were less than the estimated cost to finish the house, but with volunteers and using Society funds, we were able to complete the restoration.

There are some people I would like to thank for helping us get this project done; County Executive Steve Bellone for stepping up and getting us the initial money to get the project started; Richard Martin and Eric Crater from Suffolk County Historical Services who have sat through endless meetings on this project and have given us the assistance and expertise we needed to do the project; the Sherriff’s inmate vocational training program and all of the dedicated correction officers who work with them, without whose help we could not have finished the project. I also want to thank all of the dedicated volunteers and my Board Members who worked tirelessly on this restoration.

Several major projects are on our “to do list” for the new year. We plan to finish the Homan House entry portico, based on early pictures of the house. We will also research the possibility of restoring the old shed that stands behind the house. As mentioned in earlier Newsletters, the Yaphank Historical Society has received a grant from Preserve New York to research having the Yaphank Historic District listed on the National Register. We will be working with Zachary Studenroth on this project. Yaphank is already designated as a Town of Brookhaven Historic District. In addition, we recently received another grant from the Gardiner Foundation which will help us improve our information technology capabilities. Special 2020 work also includes repair and painting of all the historic fencing, maintenance of the Nature Trail, and some repair and painting at the Hawkins House. I want to give special thanks to the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and to Kathy Curran for supporting the Yaphank Historical Society, without whose help we would not have been so successful in our ongoing restoration efforts.

- Robert Kessler, President