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Dozens of volunteers celebrated Earth Day on Friday by taking part in an environmental beautification history project on Sagtikos Manor property in West Bay Shore.
Suffolk County Legislator Steven Flotteron and the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society asked the public to help clean the manor’s grounds.
“It’s a beautiful place, but it’s tired, it’s getting overgrown,” Flotteron said. “Right now, I’m taking out invasive vines that are choking out the rhododendrons.”
A crew from the Quintal Group landscaping company provided volunteers with leaf blowers and a truck to haul leaves and vines.
Students from Suffolk County Community College and the West Islip Union Free School District, employees from local businesses, Boy Scouts and families with young children turned out to volunteer and enjoy the outdoors.
“I just wanted the kids to learn how to do volunteer work and have something to do in the community that’s helpful,” Brianne Wakefield, 36, of Bay Shore said. “I really just like coming out and doing yard work because I feel like the kids enjoy it, and it’s good for the Earth as well. And it’s actually my daughter’s birthday, so I figured it was a good thing for her to be outside and be helpful to the community.”
Wakefield brought the whole family with her: Shiloh, 1, birthday girl Selah, 8, Azaria, 4, Justus, 10, and exchange student from Brazil, Pietra, 17.
Prepping for summer tours
The three-story West Bay Shore mansion dates back to 1697. During the American Revolution, General Sir Henry Clinton’s British headquartered up the manor, which also served George Washington for an overnight stay in 1790.
Suffolk County took ownership of the property in 2002, and the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society has preserved it as a museum for the public.
“We don’t remember sometimes what we have in our backyard,” Flotteron said. “There’s a lot of good people that came down today who want to help out in the community. Let’s try to bring this to the next level. This property should be a bigger tourist destination and I’m fighting to try to get it that way.”
The historical society, which primarily relies on grant funds, hopes to further renovate the interior of the home and construct a welcoming center at the rear of the property. Carl Tesoro, president of the historical society, said the day’s volunteer work will help attract Long Islanders to the museum before its summer tours.
“We had a pretty good turnout last year and we think it will be even better this year,” Tesoro said. “And with these new tours, even people who have been here before might have an interest because they haven’t seen [the third story]. On the second floor, we opened up a couple of new rooms as well — a bedroom and an office.”