Friday, November 23, 2007

Oyster Bay Railroad Museum future is evolving

From Enterprise-Pilot by Dagmar Fors Karppi:

Oyster Bay Railroad Museum board chairman Ben Jankowski and John Specce, OBRM president held up renderings of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum and the turntable at the Oct. 30 Main Street Association annual meeting. The picture of the museum shows restored canopies and a trolley bus waiting outside for passengers to go to Sagamore Hill and other locations. "We work with all groups and organizations," said Mr. Jankowski. "Oyster Bay is a destination location." The MSA is administering a NYS Quality Communities grant for the museum...
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Sunday, September 30, 2007

For Day Trips, Places Where History Happened

From The New York Times by Terry Golway:

“Heritage tourism is taking off,” said Thomas A. Kuehhas, director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society on Long Island. Tourists, including day-trippers, are looking for “much more in the way of what you might call ‘edu-tainment,’” he said.

Competition for those “edu-tainment” dollars is stiff, and local historical societies, museums and government tourism agencies have become more creative in trying to lure heritage tourists...

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. — Speaking of the Roosevelts, the spirit of the other 20th-century president from New York, Theodore Roosevelt, is well and enthusiastically preserved at Sagamore Hill, his home in the historydrenched Town of Oyster Bay on Long Island’s North Shore, about 45 miles from New York City. Run by the National Park Service since 1963, Sagamore Hill feels like the family home it once was.

“Even the bathrooms and bedrooms are intact,” said Charles A. Markis, chief of visitor services at Sagamore Hill. And then there is the owner’s larger-than-life presence, still discernible nearly 90 years after his death. Visitors can “feel the presence of vitality in the Roosevelt home,” said Salvatore J. LaGumina, a history professor at Nassau County Community College.
Sagamore Hill, like most historic sites, has special programs for children, including a scavenger hunt on the grounds and a Junior Ranger program designed to help children understand the site’s significance.

The journey to Sagamore Hill ought to include time to explore the charm of Oyster Bay. There is a reason President Roosevelt chose to build his home in this historic town. Within two miles of the town’s mostfamous home are two historic churches, a colonial-era cemetery, the Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park, which includes plants from around the world, the Earle-Wightman House, which was built in the early 18th century, and Raynham Hall Museum, another 18th century building that was the family home of Robert Townsend, a spy for the Continental Army. “We have a solid core of buildings here in Oyster Bay that, thankfully, the town leaders were able to save and preserve years ago,” said Mr. Kuehhas of the Oyster Bay Historical Society.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oyster Bay Tries to Save a Piece of Railway Past

From The New York Times by Nicole Cotroneo:

Trains still rumble past the old Oyster Bay train station at the end of Audrey Avenue, though the only passengers are Long Island Rail Road employees heading to a rail yard. But if you stand within the brick walls of the 118-year-old station, in the center of the chipped tile floor below the chestnut timber roof, and close your eyes, you can imagine President Theodore Roosevelt stepping off a train.

That’s the experience trustees of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum hope to provide when they formally open the station as a railroad museum. But because the project needs money, it remains a work in progress with no target date for completion.

The station — known as the home station of Roosevelt, the 26th president — stands less than five miles from his Oyster Bay residence, Sagamore Hill, the area’s main tourist attraction.

But Roosevelt’s story does not end at his estate’s boundary, museum trustees say. It continues in downtown Oyster Bay and at the train station, which went on the National Register of Historic Places two years ago. They envision the station as “a larger teaching tool,” said Liz Irwin, a consultant for the museum, simultaneously educating the public on Long Island’s railroad history and the president’s life locally.

The station now contains a few small exhibits, including drawings and photographs of the station through the decades and railroad artifacts like signal lights, which are open to the public on special occasions. The museum also owns or cares for seven pieces of heavy equipment, including a steam engine, a caboose, two passenger coaches and a boxcar. But most of these are not yet on site.

The trustees say $1.7 million to $3.5 million are needed to restore and convert the station completely, refurbish the rolling stock and bring a defunct turntable nearby to working order.

The effort to open a museum evolved from a more modest project to preserve a steam engine that hauled commuter trains until its retirement in 1955. A group, eventually the Friends of Locomotive 35, was formed in 1990 and broadened its attention to the train station and turntable as town officials discussed the possibility of opening a railroad museum in a 2002 hamlet plan, said Ben Jankowski, the museum chairman.

Last year the Friends became the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum under the auspices of the State Department of Education. The town, which bought the station from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2005, is working on a contract to grant stewardship of it to the museum group, Mr. Jankowski said. The group subleases part of the adjacent rail yard from the town, where the turntable is situated and Engine 35 remains in pieces.

Ms. Irwin said the town would hire a director of development for the museum, who would help obtain a grant for the museum. Until then, the trustees can only wait. The deadline for many grant applications this year has passed, Ms. Irwin said.

John Venditto, the town supervisor and an advocate of the museum, said he expected the town board would award the management contract to the museum group next month. He also revealed a special connection to the train station: His wife’s uncle once operated the turntable, he said.

Assemblyman Robert Walker said he was eager to see the museum become fully functioning. “It will promote economic development, lend a sense of history and educate the community,” he said.

The trustees agree that the museum is part of a larger revitalization project. “This is about making Oyster Bay a major regional destination,” Mr. Jankowski said.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Nobman's Hardware Is Back!

From Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot:

The Nobman family announced on Saturday, March 3 that Nobman's Hardware Emporium, their newly rebuilt retail hardware and home goods specialty store in downtown Oyster Bay, has officially reopened. On Sunday people were walking in to see the store and to take a tour of the new retail space. Outside on South Street were two Appalachian chairs. Inside Pendleton blankets were draped around the staircase leading down to an expanded basement site. Glinting in the sun were weathervanes mounted on cupolas ready to make your house distinctive.

Derrick Nobman was busy meeting customers and showing them around. He is getting out the message that the store will be open seven days a week with long elegant posters. That is good news to the community which has been looking forward to Nobman's rising out of the ashes after the devastating fire of 2005.

Road to Reconstruction
In the early morning hours of Jan. 24, 2005, the building that had been the home of Nobman's Hardware Emporium since 1910 was destroyed by fire. The loss of the historic building and of Nobman's Hardware was devastating to the Nobman family and to the larger community. Family owned and operated since its inception, Nobman's Hardware was steadily expanding under its fifth generation proprietor, Derrick Nobman at the time of the fire. Despite this loss, the Nobman family has spent the last two years rebuilding.

Derrick Nobman is continuing his family tradition of running Nobman's Hardware, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

For more than 95 years Nobman's Hardware has been a fixture of the community, and a prominent driver of business and foot traffic in downtown Oyster Bay. The Nobman family pledged to remain in Oyster Bay and to restore this community icon, even while the ashes were still smoldering. The actual opening, which was held on Friday, Feb. 23, was the long anticipated culmination of two years of hard work on the part of the Nobman family to keep that promise to their neighbors - and to the employees who were such an integral part of the business - with the support of the local government and community.

Proprietor Derrick Nobman said, "Our family was devastated by the loss of the building, particularly my grandfather, Walter R. Nobman, Sr., who owned and ran Nobman's for 40 years with his brother-in-law George Hammond. We have had quite a ride getting the building back up and running, and consistent with today's code, but we are glad to be back in Oyster Bay. We plan to dedicate the building to my grandfather "Pops" who passed last year but was himself, along with my grandmother Elizabeth Nobman, a fixture of the Oyster Bay community."

Unique Retail Experience Returns
Nobman's Hardware is a full-service hardware, home furnishings and specialty store serving Oyster Bay and the outlying communities with products of exceptional quality at competitive prices, and with outstanding customer service. Customers can once again count on Nobman's to provide them with a unique blend of merchandise, including everyday hardware and home improvement supplies, a new selection of interior decorative hardware for cabinetry and doors, specialty housewares and the handmade works of local artisans. Nobman's will again feature custom designed and painted estate signs, handcrafted driftwood furniture and interior accents, custom made birdhouses and feeders, and meticulously reproduced custom prints of Long Island's many lighthouses.

Gold Coast Relic
Oyster Bay is an historic center on the North Shore of Long Island with history dating as far back as the pre-colonial era. Known for its central location on Long Island's Gold Coast, Oyster Bay was home to the great estates of the Industrial Revolution era captains of industry, and to former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Nobman's began its long history as a supplier to the large estates owned by these historic figures. The Nobman's Hardware tradition is imbued with a sense of this history, and to the residents of the area, Nobman's represents one of the last remaining relics of the Gold Coast - a source of continuity through the generations.
Because the Nobman's Hardware building has tremendous historic and sentimental value to the community, and is such a visible part of the downtown streetscape, a great deal of effort was put into reconstructing the building to preserve the character of Oyster Bay's traditional waterfront community, while focusing on the challenges that lay ahead.

Building for the Future
Oyster Bay's proximity to the many beaches, estuaries, marshes and other important natural features that characterize the north coast of Long Island makes an emphasis on helping to preserve these treasures an imperative. Building with a focus on sustainability, the Nobman family succeeded in using green materials and practices through the many phases of construction. The new building features durable composite clapboard siding in place of traditional wood clapboard; a recycled composite that resembles slate tiling utilized on the exterior steps and as an interior decorative accent; and an efficient solar powered radiant heating and cooling system.

Property Owner Richard Nobman said, "We wanted to build a building that complemented the downtown and retained the character of the old building. We also wanted to build the greenest building possible within our budget. The net result is a great new building designed to carry us through the next 100 years of business. We are thrilled to be back!"