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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / 19th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:154
  • Format:Hardcover
  • Hardcover ISBN:9781543900385

Port Jefferson Photographs and Memories

Port Jefferson New York in the Early Twentieth Century.

by Robert Morello

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Overview

Over twenty years ago, my wife Bernadette and I purchased a home in Port Jefferson. It was thus we began a journey we never bargained for. The old house needed a tremendous amount of work, but it was close to the water and it simply captivated us. We made an offer, it was accepted and we closed the deal shortly after. At the closing the broker handed Bernadette a slip of paper with “Richard Mather” and a telephone number written on it. 

Bernadette called the number on the paper slip and spoke to a woman named Millie Michos. Millie was very knowledgeable about the history of Port Jefferson, and told us she believed we bought Richard Mather’s house.After that day, and many hours spent searching through old deeds in the Riverhead records room, we found a deed that proved Richard and Irena Mather had in fact lived in the house at 121 Thompson Street.

Over the next ten years restoring and living in The Richard Mather house, we found many incredible artifacts and had remarkable experiences. The stories we could tell will perhaps be the subject of another book. In any event we’re forever a part of the history of this house. During our time living in Port Jefferson, we developed a passion for the local history, fueled by the abundance of photographs of life in the bygone days.

This inspired me to produced a book of the finest examples from the genre. I searched through hundreds of rare photos I had scanned over the years, and selected what I felt were the best of the best to include in this book.

Some might wonder why I created a picture book celebrating a town I haven't lived in for well over a decade.

The truth is I left Port Jefferson but it never left me.

I hope you enjoy the book!

Robert Morello

Description

PORT JEFFERSON experienced a renaissance from 1996 through 2006. The driving factors were the strong economy, spurring an influx of young professional couples buying up the old houses and restoring them to their former glory. Further augmenting this, a progressive Mayor named Jeanne Garant was elected to office. She proved to be as adept at raising funds for public works as she was at raising community spirits.

In 2000 then Mayor Garant created the annual Dickens Festival, installing Victorian-style gaslights along East Main Street for the inaugural event, adding more each year since. But the Mayor’s greatest accomplishment, and arguably the crown jewel of Port Jefferson village, was the development of the waterfront into a Harborfront Park complex. This complex included a Harborwalk boardwalk, The Children’s Maritime Museum, The Bayles Boat Shop, a skating rink and the Port Jefferson Village Center. This state-of-the-art facility was built using the remnants of a derelict steel shipyard building that had been rusting away on the waterfront for nearly a century.

Other projects that were completed around this time were, the Tex Spinney Clock Museum on the grounds of The Historical Society of Greater Port Jefferson Mather Museum, preservation of The Phillips and Nathanial Roe’s house, championed by the former Town Historian, the late Rob Sisler. Rob researched and proved that the original residents of the home played a pivotal role in the revolutionary war. The house was slated for demolition. Rob and Mayor Garant raised funds to have the house moved to the waterfront on East Broadway, where it now serves as the Drowned Meadow Museum.

These events and public works all combined to create a perfect storm resulting in somewhat of a hey-day for the village of Port Jefferson. I’m very happy we were there to witness it and this book serves as a testament to the rich history and unflagging spirit of the residents of this thriving Long Island village.

About the author

Robert Morello, the author, of this book was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn in 1956. His parents moved to Selden, Long Island when Bob was five. Bob recalls with joy, the sleepy summers spent growing up on Long Island in the 1960’s. A ride to Port Jeff, to stroll on the docks, or catch a ferry to Bridgeport, was always a very special event.

After his high school graduation, Bob attended the State University at Farmingdale. After this he moved to New York City to attend Parsons School of Design. Bob began his career as a graphic artist and illustrator, specializing in science fiction art slated for comic books and magazines. Bob met Bernadette his future wife at a midtown design studio in 1978. After a three-month cross-country camping trip in 1980, they settled down in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where their first son Jonathan was born. They soon opened Griffin Graphics, a design studio on 38th street between Madison and 5th avenue in Manhattan. Bob was hired by Universal Studios & 20th Century Fox to develop concepts for feature films, so Bob and family were again on the move to Los Angeles, California. It was there son Julian was born.

In 1996 Bob, Bernadette, Jonathan and Julian moved to Port Jefferson, into the historic Richard Mather house. This house is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bob digitally restored hundreds of vintage photos of Port Jefferson, and in 2001 he created an online library called The Archive. Visitors to the web site could view and purchase copies of photos online. The Archive web site is no longer active, however it served as a model for the Port Jefferson Village Digital Archivehttp://portjeff.com/village-history/

Active in community affairs, Bob and Bernadette served on the steering committee that helped the architects design the Port Jefferson Village Center at Harborfront Park. The design feature of a balcony was championed by Bob's wife during the design meetings, and as such they refer to it as Bernadette's Balcony to this day.

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