Q: The Southold Historical Society is holding a special event this weekend. What is it?A: On June 4 a portion of the Rites of Spring Concert will be held at the Ann Currie-Bell House at our museum complex on the Main Road, across from the Southold Fire Department. A great way for the public to experience our historic buildings is to attend this outstanding musical experience on Saturday.
Q: The Southold Historical Society is hosting ‘a portion’ of the next Rites of Spring concert? Can you please explain?
A: After ticketholders enjoy brief concerts at the Webb House in Orient and the Ireland House in Greenport, we will welcome the participants in the Day of Music to the Anne Currie Bell House for a brief concert in the mid-afternoon. (Tickets can be bought at www.ritesmusic.org. The day begins at the Webb House in Orient on Village Lane. Programs and boxed lunches will be distributed there. Full schedule.)
In Southold, the musicians will be set up in the gallery of the Ann Currie-Bell House. I will give a welcome and a brief history of the house, then the concert will take place. After the concert the guests will go to the Paradise Studio at Paradise Point for refreshments and final full concert.
These beautiful locations are all indoors, so it is a rain or shine event.
This is a unique experience for the community to experience beautiful music in a historical setting. Just shouldn’t be missed.
Q: Speaking of experiencing historic buildings through the concert, what does the Southold Historical Society do? How can the public experience it beyond Saturday?
A: We are a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of Southold Town. We maintain a complex of historic buildings on the Main Road, the Horton Point Lighthouse, and a few other properties including the Reichert Center (Gallery). We also have extensive archives and an outstanding collection of artifacts and art work.
We open our properties for tours in the summer. The complex is open, Wednesdays Saturdays and Sundays from July 4th Weekend to Columbus Day Weekend. Visitors can explore the buildings on their own, but this year we are also offering tours of the whole complex led by a trained docent. Those tours happen every day the complex is open.
The Horton Point Lighthouse and Nautical Museum is open Saturdays and Sundays Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend.
We host many events at the complex and Lighthouse in the summer, fall and winter, and stage exhibitions at Cosden-Price Gallery in the Reichert Center beginning in the Spring.
Q: What is the Anne Currie Bell House?
A: The Anne Currie Bell House is the “centerpiece” building in our complex. It belonged to our founder, Annie Currie Bell, who gathered people who were interested in preserving the history of Southold Town and began collecting artifacts and archival materials. This group approached in NY State for a charter as a historical society in 1960.
The house was built by her parents in 1900, and Anne lived there until her death in 1964.
The upper rooms have been set up as a museum, as if her family were still living there: Bedrooms, bathrooms and a study. Concert goers will be able to go up and visit these spaces.
The gallery, which is where the concert will be held, was originally a front room and a kitchen, and the concert goers will be able to explore that as well.
Q: Has the Southold Historical Society ever done anything like this before?
A: No. This is a unique experience, and a very welcome one. We have made a wonderful connection to a new group in the community, Bartolani International headed by Paolo Bartolani, as well as to the other two historical societies we are working with. It’s a new collaboration we’re very excited about. We really hope to engage in more collaborations in the future.
As far as musical events, we’ve traditionally hosted concerts on the lawn of the Horton Point Lighthouse. This summer we’ll do that again, on August 13, August 20 and September 3 at 6pm.
Q: Does the Southold Historical Society offer other events during the year?
A: One of our most popular events is the Candlelight Tour, which is held on the Friday after Thanksgiving every year. We welcome the entire community to the complex for tours of the buildings, tree lighting, caroling, and of course, a chance to meet Santa Claus in the barn.
But summer is our busiest season. On the first Saturday in August we’ll do a special family event centered around our carriage collection in the Pine Neck Barn. We have seven carriages spanning from the 1800s to 1900s. In the morning the presentation will be aimed at children and their families, and in the afternoon it will be a regular presentation. A representative from the Stony Brook Museum will lead both sessions.
In the summer we also have an annual ice cream social (August 13), and we’ll have an exhibition of samplers in the Anne Currie-Bell House from July 9 to Columbus Day.
Q: What are samplers?
A: Samplers are pieces needlework done by young girls as they learn the different stitches, as well as the letters of the alphabet and numbers. At the exhibition samplers made over the years by girls and women from Southold will be displayed. In addition, we’ll offer classes in needlework to adults and children. We’ll also do a Needlework Sunday, where people in the community will be invited to bring their needlework, present it to others, tour the exhibition and share their experiences.
Q: Any other events coming up you’d like to mention?
A: We’re doing numerous events that will engage families and the community in thinking about our shared history, and coming together to celebrate how unique this area is. We will be having two major celebrations that are fundraisers for SHS. Our Summer Gala will be held on July 9th, at the complex. Our winter gala will be at the new Southold Opera house, on December 3rd.
Q: You’re relatively new to the Southold Historical Society. How and when did you come to lead it?
A: I started in late September of 2015. I had been the interim director at Oysterponds Historical Society. Prior to that I taught at Stony Brook University, and I was curriculum director at various districts.
Q: Since you were at Oysterponds Historical Society before, and they are hosting one of the Rites of Spring concerts during the Day of Music, can you speak about the Webb House, which is hosting the Oysterponds concert?
A: The Webb House is a wonderful big, old inn that has been restored at Poquatuck Park at Orient. It was built in the 1700s, originally in Stirling Harbor in Greenport. It was moved twice, once up to where the old Shady Lady was, and then to its present location.
The Ireland House in Greenport, which is the next stop on the concert program, is an interesting restored house in the heart of Greenport. The Stirling Historical Society has several exhibitions that center around the maritime history of Greenport at the house.
Q: What’s your connection to history? Did you teach history at Stony Brook?
A: History has always been something I’ve enjoyed, but I taught English. That said, I always taught English through an interdisciplinary lens, in which we took account of historical events and their influence on language arts: writing, reading , listening and speaking.
When I was looking for a retirement home in 2001, I deliberately chose to move to Southold because I was able to buy a historic house right on the Main Rd. My house was built by the Terry family in 1783.
Q: Now that you’re at the helm of the Southold Historical Society, should people expect any changes in how it is run?
A: What people should be looking for is activity and liveliness at the complex. We want to open up those doors and welcome people in more than had been done in the past. That circles back to our involvement with the Rites of Spring.
What better way to have people come into our buildings than with the wonderful music?