‘Sea Of History’ Exhibit Explores Town’s Maritime Heritage

By Janee Law

jlaw@longislandergroup.com

Jo-Ann Raia, Huntington town clerk, holding up a book on oyster lot rents in Northport from 1887-1897, which can be viewed on display in town hall’s “A Sea of History-Our Maritime Heritage” exhibit.

Jo-Ann Raia, Huntington town clerk, holding up a book on oyster lot rents in Northport from 1887-1897, which can be viewed on display in town hall’s “A Sea of History-Our Maritime Heritage” exhibit.

Huntington Town Hall is decked in historical artifacts that highlight the industries that flourished around the town’s harbors.

The display is part of an annual tradition that brings to the forefront a different piece of the town’s history through its historic archives. This year’s exhibit, titled “A Sea of History-Our Maritime Heritage,” features artifacts and documents from 1676-1902.

The “A Sea of History-Our Maritime Heritage” exhibit at Huntington Town Hall features a book of brick orders that was dated in April 1880.

The “A Sea of History-Our Maritime Heritage” exhibit at Huntington Town Hall features a book of brick orders that was dated in April 1880.

“We border so much water and a lot of people are not aware of the history of Huntington as it relates to the waterfront,” Jo-Ann Raia, Huntington town clerk, said. “I hope that, because it’s so diverse, it brings to light all of these hidden treasures that we’ve had.”

Town archivist Antonia Mattheou said assembling the actual display took one month, but the process of researching and gathering the archives took six months. The display, which was officially put up in May, explores topics such as pottery, brickyards, whaling, shell fishing, shipbuilding, transportation, marinas and yacht clubs.

“Everyone talks about Sag Harbor whaling, but we had that here in Cold Spring Harbor,” Raia said. “It’s a big boating community, with so many yacht clubs and boating clubs, so we wanted to highlight them to. We’re very proud of Huntington.”

Huntington Town Hall displays artifacts that relates to whaling in Cold Spring Harbor, where whalers demonstrated scrimshaw handiwork.

Huntington Town Hall displays artifacts that relates to whaling in Cold Spring Harbor, where whalers demonstrated scrimshaw handiwork.

The exhibit is displayed on three floors of the building and, in addition to the manuscripts town hall’s archives, displays artifacts and images on loan by the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, Huntington Public Library, Huntington Historical Society, Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association, yacht clubs and two residents.

The first floor features whaling artifacts such as tools made from whale bones; bricks and pottery relating to the clay industry; and artifacts and images relating to shipping.

Meanwhile, the second floor features copies of images and documents relating to transportation and the third floor highlights gristmills and the shell fishing industry.

Also on the first floor, exhibit-goers can explore blue panels that feature the history of several yacht clubs in Huntington, including the Centerport Yacht Club, Head of the Bay Yacht Club, Huntington Beach Association, Huntington Yacht Club, Ketewomoke Yacht Club, Lloyd Harbor Yacht Club, Masthead Cove Yacht Club and Northport Yacht Club. 

Raia said she is also responsible for educating the public on the history of the town and displaying various artifacts.

“Our archive is the hidden treasure,” she said. “I’m really delighted that we had the opportunity to bring this to light.”

The free exhibit is set to be displayed at town hall (100 Main St., Huntington) through Dec. 31. Town hall is open Monday-Thursday, 8:30 a.m.-4:40 p.m.; and Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.