By Andrew Wroblewski
Hops and history go together like peanut butter and jelly.
That’s the thinking behind Huntington Historical Society’s monthly historic walking tour and pub crawl, as historians hop through time and get a glimpse into Huntington village’s past, albeit partially through beer goggles, under the guidance of Town Historian Robert Hughes.
Offered during warm-weather months, patrons whet their whistles in between history lessons as Hughes rattles off the history of Main Street, New York Avenue and the buildings that line them, unearthing an intricate history that may be unknown to even lifelong residents.
“It’s funny. I’ve lived in the Town of Huntington my whole life and I never really knew all of the history behind it,” Bryan Ruben, 43, said during the Sept. 3 tour. “Sometimes you don’t get the chance to stop and smell the roses.”
Take, for example, the intersection of New York Avenue and Main Street. Do you know which of the four buildings on the corners is the oldest?
Hughes posed the question as his historians-to-be conversed amongst each other, brainstorming the answer. Is it present-day J. Ogilvy to the northeast? How about Loft to the northwest? Perhaps the southern side takes the cake with either Aerosoles to the southwest or Cactus Salon to the southeast?
Then the historian puts his slightly inebriated pupils to the test. “Which is the oldest?” he asks.
Well, it’s J. Ogilvy, of course. That building was erected in 1869; Loft’s building followed in 1884; Cactus’ in 1889; and, finally, Aerosoles’ in 1900.
Dates not your forte? Well, perhaps some historic facts might peek your interest in between drinks at Huntington’s historic pub’s – such as the 103-year-old Finnegan’s or The Paramount’s Founder’s Room, a throwback to Prohibition-era speakeasy pubs.
Did you know Huntington village was once home to Stop and Shop? No, no, not the Massachusetts-born Stop & Shop chain, but Long Island’s own original supermarket, that once graced New York Avenue at present-day Value Drugs, before moving to Main Street in 1938.
Intricacies such as this one emerge throughout the tour, but the history of Value Drugs’ building, in particular, intrigued Alanna Russo, one of the tour-goers who attended the crawl as a team-building exercise with her coworkers from the Huntington YMCA.
As Hughes detailed, the building once housed The Palace Theatre – indicated today by the building’s theatre-like façade – before it was inhabited by strings of supermarkets and convenience stores.
“That was my favorite,” Russo, of East Northport, said. “I’ve been going there my whole life and to learn what used to be there was great. I expected to learn about Huntington and I really did, I’m so happy we did this.”
The historical society’s final tour of the season is set for Oct. 1. Space is limited, so those interested are asked to call 631-427-7045, ext. 401, to make reservations. Tours are $10 for historical society members and $15 for non-members.