Hallockville’s Lasting Contribution: by Kathryn Bockino
During Hallockville Museum Farm’s annual summer camp, there is one question in particular that the kids love to try and guess the answer to. “What here, at Hallockville, is older than the United States of America?” They’re asked this during the tour of the Homestead, one of the best known sites on the farm. Herb Strobel, the Executive Director, picks up various old tools and points to the gleaming original horse carriage on display. The kids’ eyes go wide as they try to guess what could possibly be older than their country. Well, how about the very barn they’re standing in?
This year marks the 250th anniversary of the Homestead. “We are putting together a special exhibit that will run until the end of the year.” Says Beth Motschenbacher, Assistant Director. “This special exhibit traces the history of the Homestead, and all of the residents that lived in its walls over the past 250 years. It documents the Hallock family history, their influence on the community, and their role on Sound Avenue.” The exhibit, open through mid December on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12PM-4PM (or by appointment) is only a part of their celebration events.
Many people may not recognize how rich the North Fork’s heritage is. But that is Hallockville’s mission: to reconnect the community to our shared agricultural heritage. Hallockville is a ‘not-for-profit’ entity, and they make it easy for anyone to get involved. One can be a part of their community garden program, where residents from the community can rent a small garden and enjoy the benefit of sharing tips and tricks from each another. One can take a woodworking class, a quilting class, attend their Annual Country Parlor Holiday Folk Art and Gift Show (visit www.hallockville.com for more details) or even send one’s kids to Hallockville’s five-week summer camp. Each week features a different theme that connects to their rich heritage on the North Fork, such as woodworking, organic gardening, or barnyard arts and crafts. “This year,” Motschenbacher says, “we were excited to be the recipient of a grant from All for the East End Foundation (AFTEE) which is administered by the LI Community Foundation. This will enable us to offer 10 scholarships to children from the community.”
Hallockville Museum Farm offers adults and kids alike a way to connect to Long Island’s own history, and a way to bring the community together. Take a tour of their nineteen historic buildings (that range in date from 1765-1937), and try to imagine a naval battle happening right on the Sound during the War of 1812. Motschenbacher says, “Young Herman Hallock was around thirteen at the time, and rode on horseback along Sound Avenue calling all the neighbors to arms to help their fellow countrymen. It’s hard to imagine these magnificent ships of war just patrolling around on the Sound.” But they did, and thanks to the New York Council For the Humanities, Hallockville was further able to research this time in our history, and even put on a special exhibit for the public.
“Hallockville is important to all sorts of people, for all different reasons.” Says Strobel, “For me personally, Hallockville is important for what it is not. It is not the site of nuclear plants, it is not the site of industrial development, and it is not the site of hundreds of houses. If any one of those things had occurred, this part of Riverhead would be much different, and I would argue that the entire East End of Long Island would be different.” That idea is almost impossible to imagine, but that could have been the North Fork’s reality. Hallockville is one of the few places left that not only cherishes the past, but also brings it to life in a way that everyone, no matter what background you come from, or what age you are, can enjoy.