Summer into fall is peak wedding season on Long Island, and anyone who visits the newly renovated Lindenhurst Historical House Museum will learn such was the case over one hundred years ago, too.
Open to the public for nearly five years at its 272 S. Wellwood Avenue location, the porch of the Lindenhurst Historical House Museum changes with the seasons.
Today, the porch is illuminated with numerous white wedding dresses accompanied by a black velvet tuxedo and top hat. Lindenhurst Village Historian Anna Jaeger explains the wedding gowns currently occupy the seasonal station because a June wedding “was kind of a traditional thing back in the day.”
The museum boasted a celebration of its own this month.
On Sunday, June 6, the newly renovated second floor of the house was officially made open to the public. Now, the house’s bathroom, two bedrooms and sewing station replete with late 19th and early 20th century furnishings are on display for those interested in exploring local history.
Intrigued time travelers can visit the museum on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4 p.m. and take a guided tour with Jaeger and museum director Marianne Guglieri.
The village purchased the circa 1915 house and the first floor findings were setup in 2013 after the contents of the Old Village Hall Museum across the street were removed to relocate that building to Irmisch Park to free space for a firehouse expansion. The Village of Lindenhurst Historical Society cares for the house.
While the COVID-19 pandemic delayed renovations for several months, funding delayed the project as well.
“We’ve been waiting for grants to come through,” Jaeger said. “It’s been a labor of love for the society. We don’t have that much money to work with unless we get grant money.”
The village spent over $350,000 on purchasing the Wellwood Avenue house, relocating the old village hall and renovating the two buildings and used over $255,000 in state and county grants and fundraising.
The first floor
Perhaps the most eye-catching piece in the house, according to Jaeger, sits in a glass case just beyond the entryway.
“We have a baseball signed by Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth because they came to Lindenhurst in 1930 to do a exhibition game against one of our local teams,” she said. “That catches most peoples’ eye when they come in.”
Up next is the parlor, the home’s hub for entertaining family and guests, according to Jaeger. The room features a Victrola record player boasting 78 rpm vinyl records, a stereoscope and a litter of instruments.
“The instruments all come from somebody in Lindenhurst that donated them,” Jaeger said. “We like to have them in the Parlor because most likely on a Sunday afternoon you’d come into the Parlor somebody would play some instruments for the family.”
Across the room from a Civil War soldier’s organ rests one of Guglieri’s favorite pieces “We have a desk that belonged to one of the founders of what was Breslow back in 1870, which is now Lindenhurst.” The founder was Thomas Welwood, an Irish immigrant whose name – albeit misspelled – marks the village’s main street, Wellwood Avenue.
Welwood and his wife Abby’s descendants donated the desk to the historical society, and some members of the family came to visit the piece during the museum’s recent ribbon-cutting event, Guglieri said “The desk is in beautiful condition and its something that we are really glad we have.”
The parlor also boasts furniture from the old Nehring Hotel, a location now occupied by the Belfast Gastropub.
Beyond the parlor lies a dining room and a kitchen, completed with era-appropriated items from an ice box to crystal serving ware and a laundry ringer to cornstarch boxes.
“Everything in this house was donated by somebody here in Lindenhurst,” Guglieri said. “Maybe they had a box of this they found in the attic or the basement, this belonged to grandpa and they decided ‘oh, let me send it to the museum.'”
The new upstairs
At the top of the stairs is the newly renovated bathroom. Guglieri hoped to replicate the original flooring, a scrap of which, cut out from under the sink, resides in a wooden frame.
“If you look, we pretty much replicated it pretty well, except for the color,” she said. Above the sink is a wealth of “original medicines that people would have had in their medicine chest.”
Jaeger called Guglieri’s vision recostructing the first upstairs bedroom “magnificent,” and admires one of the two quilts in the room. “We have a quilt that was handmade, it was individual blocks that were sewn together from families of [Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church] back in the late 20s.”
An armoire with a families Sunday best, a writing desk, a couch and a toiletry setup complete the first bedroom.
The second is set up as a children’s bedroom, featuring a pullout bed, rocking chair and various toys. 19th century dolls seated throughout the room – as well as the rest of the house – dominate the bedroom’s atmosphere. “Some people are afraid of them,” Guglieri admitted.
A small sewing station rounds out the new upstairs. An antique sewing machine, pedal board and another wedding gown are packed into the modest space.
For both Guglieri and Jaeger, the museum contains not only the history of their village, but the history of their families.
“I’ve been involved with Lindenhurst history for many many years,” Guglieri said. “My mother was Lindenhurst Village historian till her death in 1969. My aunt was the museum director here for at least 10 years. She now is 96 years old, and she passed the gauntlet on to me.”
The oldest wedding dress in the house belonged to Guglieri’s grandmother. It will not reside in the parlor for much longer, as Guglieri explained it is quite fragile and must be carefully returned to storage soon.
The children’s bedroom contains a German dollhouse from 1924 in a glass case made by her father. “My father would never let us play with it,” she said. “I guess I should be thankful since it’s stayed in such great condition.”
One of Jaeger’s cousins played in the exhibition game against Gehrig and Ruth immortalized at the front of the home. he is pictured in a team photo and a picture alongside his bride.
A small thermometer with Jaeger’s family name is nailed to a kitchen wall between pots and pans.
Looking to the future
Those interested in the summer wedding displays should visit the museum before leaves succumb to the autumn weather. At the time, Guglieri said the house’s porch will be refurbished with beer paraphyllia for Octoberfest, and change once more with items for Veteran’s Day.
With the Historic House Museum renovation is behind them, Jaeger and Guglieri can focus on completing the new Village Hall Museum.
“We’re at the process now of having it painted,” Jaeger said. “Then we as members of the society will be able to go in and re-setup the displays in the cases that are there. Basically that Village Hall Museum is going to be set up as a village hall. We’re gonna have a tax office, court room, a judge’s stand and a police station in that building.”
Jaeger said she hopes it will be complete by the end of the year. “We have to get in there and do some hard work.”