By Barbara LaMonica
He returned to Paramount in 1929 and left in 1936 to begin work on special features for the New York World’s Fair. He created special motion pictures projected on the interior of the Perisphere, an enormous modernistic structure that served as the central theme of the fair. He built his first model for the Cinerama process but it was considered too expensive and radical at the time. During this period, he bought the Kenyon Instrument Company of Boston and relocated it to Huntington as the Kenyon Instrument Company. The new company produced nautical and aircraft instruments.
During WWII, he developed the Waller Gunnery Trainer, a simulator utilizing multiple cameras projecting pictures of moving planes onto a conclave screen. This resulted in producing realistic aerial battle situations, thus showing gunners how to hit them. The U.S. Air Force, Navy and the British Admiralty used the trainer, which is credited with saving over 350,000 lives during combat.
Essentially the process Waller created called for three 35 mm cameras equipped with 27mm lenses. Each camera photographed one-third of the picture in a crisscross pattern. The film was projected from three projection booths onto a large curved screen. The process attracted Lowell Thomas who organized a corporation to further market Cinerama. Louis B. Mayer was Chairman, Thomas was Vice President and Waller was Chairman of the Board.
On September 30, 1952, This is Cinerama opened in New York City to a capacity crowd. The film opened with a breathtaking rollercoaster ride, and critics lauded the production, seeing it as an alternative to the rising popularity of television. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and How the West Was Won were two of the first features to be shot in Cinerama. However, it soon became obvious that the Cinerama process was too cumbersome to shoot with three cameras mounted on one crane, and the need for three projection booths with at least three projectionists added to a prohibitive cost. Most existing movie theatres could not be easily converted to accommodate the process, as the cost for this could be as high as $75,000. Eventually producers decided to shoot on 70mm film with a single camera and project onto a larger screen with a single projector. Even though the Cinerama process gradually faded out it still remains a significant contribution to cinema technology being a precursor to IMAX and Virtual Reality.
By Toby Kissam
The surviving 1825 "Eagle" that stood above the "sails" on the Daniel Sammis Saw Mill.
The year is 1826:
Daniel Sammis (1787-1869), a 5th generation Sammis in Huntington, erected a large and unusual saw mill, powered by wind, in 1825. It was described as “The most conspicuous building in the place.” One of his clients was Carman Smith. A circular dated December 21, 1826, and issued by the proprietor, stated the purpose for which the mill was built.
Sammis designed and built this unique mill, possibly from earlier Dutch examples in New Amsterdam. Built on the ridge, north of Main Street, between West Neck Road and Wall Street, in 1846 the mill was moved closer to Main Street into what is today a municipal parking lot across from the Post Office. In 1867, a hurricane blew off the circular carousel structure that powered the mill and its wind directional, breaking one of the eagle’s wings. The building was used after as a barn until it was torn down in the early 20th century.
Henry Lockwood (1838-1901), a grandson of Daniel Sammis, whose family owned the marble foundry next door and whose mother was the daughter of Daniel Sammis, recalled when he and his friends, as young boys, would climb the circular structure and “ride the wind.” Although considered dangerous, reportedly no one was seriously injured. Late in his life, Henry drew the sketch of the mill for an article in the Brooklyn Eagle.
In 1923, the Lockwood House was torn down and the “Eagle,” although damaged during the 1867 hurricane, was donated to the Huntington Historical Society and is today the symbol for the Society. You can visit this almost 200-year-old artifact at the History and Decorative Arts Museum in the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Building on Main Street.
The 1895 sketch of the saw mill done by the grandson of Daniel Sammis, Henry Lockwood, for the article in the Brooklyn Eagle.
By Josette Lee
The following is an excerpt from the Huntington Historical Society Quarterly from 1986.
To read more from this quarterly and others, make an appointment to visit our Archives!
Born a slave in 1856 in Virginia, Booker T. Washington rose to become a renowned spokesperson for African Americans. Washington’s belief that African Americans could advance themselves through education in the trades and industrial arts prompted him to establish the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1881.
Washington was well respected as an orator and author. Of his 14 books, his autobiography “Up from Slavery” (published in 1901) became the most well-known. His writings gained him national influence in education and politics and led him to become an advisor and friend to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. In 1901, Washington was invited to dine with Roosevelt at the White House, a radical invitation that led to much outcry from southern politicians and press.
WASHINGTON IN HUNTINGTON
When the school session ended at Tuskegee, Booker T. Washington would head north to Long Island for summer vacation and fundraising. Before purchasing a home in Fort Salonga, Washington summered at the Van Wyck Farm in Lloyd Harbor.
Van Wyck Farm in Lloyd Harbor, which no longer exists
In 2021, a descendent of the Lloyd Harbor Van Wyck family donated three letters from Washington that refer to his stay on the Van Wyck Farm. The letters are now part of the Society's collection and provide insight into his time there.
While in Huntington, Washington gave several talks at the local Opera House, as well as a commencement speech at Northport High School. He also taught Sunday School at Bethel AME Church.
Most locals know that Washington purchased a property in Fort Salonga, but it is less commonly known that he also acquired a house in Huntington Village.
According to this deed dated May 7, 1914, Henry and Fanny Brush transferred property at 43 Greene Street, Huntington to Booker T. Washington. The house still stands today and is the location of Finley’s Restaurant.
43 Green Street, today Finley's Restaurant
It is not known what Washington planned to do with the home as he passed away within a year of purchase.
By Emily Finan
Known as the Patriotic Santa, this cotton textile held in the collection was designed by Edward Peck in 1868 and printed by Oriental Print Works of Warwick, Rhode Island, a company founded by Alfred Augustus Reed and Edward D. Boit that operated from around 1857 to 1883.
Appearing in the central foreground in a snowy woodland, Santa Claus wears a fur trimmed coat and fur hat. His right arm overflows with toys including a hobby horse, two dolls, a drum, a bell, a quadrupedal stuffed animal, horns, and a pinwheel; in his left arm, he carries a sled inscribed “Oriental Print Works” and an American Flag from which the illustration derives its title.
Framing Santa are four vignettes illustrating Peck’s interpretation of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” which inspired the print as a whole. Quotes from the poem inscribed below Santa’s feet—“His eyes how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry”—guide Peck’s depiction along with editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast’s contemporary portrayal of Santa in Harper’s Weekly as a jolly, rotund figure which marked a shift from earlier depictions of Santa with a stern disposition. Peck’s curious portrayal of Santa through a patriotic lens can also be attributed to Nast’s influence. As a supporter of the Union, Nast’s illustrations also served as Civil War propaganda, exemplified by his 1881 Merry Old Santa Claus portrait. Donning a dress sword and belt buckle that refer to the Army and a pocket watch set at ten to midnight, Nast’s Santa serves as a critique of United States Senate’s inaction on paying members of the military fair wages. Though not as pointed, Nast’s imagery manifests in Peck’s print through the inclusion of a similar dress sword, pocket watch, flag, and red, white, and blue motif.
In the top left vignette, Santa is riding his sleigh pulled by reindeer who are slipping out of frame under a starry sky along with the words “Santa Claus is coming.” In the top right, titled “with compliments of Santa Claus,” Santa stands on a roof and delivers presents down a chimney. On the bottom left, “All the stockings in the house were hung to be filled by Santa Claus” is written within a scene of three children hanging stockings from the mantle of a fireplace in preparation. On the bottom right, three children play with their new toys—a drum and rocking horse—around their parents’ bed, illustrated by the quote “Santa Claus gave all these toys because we were good girls and boys.”
Displayed in a variety of manners—as a banner, a handkerchief, a scarf, a table cover, a decorative textile hanging—additional examples of this print can be found in other museum collections, such as the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. [https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18669979/] Another edition, now in the collection of New York Historical Society, was designed by Peck as a make-your-own Santa Claus doll; the same patriotic Santa is printed with its reverse on one textile which allowed users to cut each out and sew them together to fashion a doll. [https://emuseum.nyhistory.org/objects/6630/santa-claus-doll?ctx=35019b47c703c699e3e4137815d21bc7d7ee13cc&idx=15]
We wish you a very happy holiday!
By Emily Finan
Gifted to the Society by John Hulsen, Huntington’s first motorcycle policeman, these three unique trophies commemorate the donor’s participation—and success—in the Highhold Games, an annual event held by Henry L. Stimson and his wife Mabel White Stimson at their home in the Huntington hamlet of West Hills. The name Highhold was inspired by the view that the over one-hundred-acre property provided from the Long Island Sound to the Atlantic Ocean.
Each Thanksgiving Day from 1904 into the 1920s, Stimson—who served as Secretary of War under President Howard Taft, and Secretary of State under President Herbert Hoover—invited his friends, family, and neighbors to Highhold estate, through postings in The Long-Islander, to compete in a series of games including trapshooting, spar fighting, barrel racing, novelty racing, flat racing, and steeplechase. Originally held as a gesture of appreciation to his neighbors for their hospitality in allowing him to traverse their lands while foxhunting, Stimson’s games became an annual tradition that exemplified generosity and fostered community. Hundreds of people—young and old—gathered to compete, enjoy cider, coffee, and donuts at the refreshments tent, and warm themselves by the bonfire before returning home for their own holiday dinners.
Hulsen competed in the games as a child and fondly recalled standing alongside Teddy Roosevelt during a trap shooting event one year. The first two trophies he earned are mugs in the shape of barrels. The first is made of brass encircled by copper bands, and indicates Hulsen’s success in the 1915 trap shooting event; the second is made of pewter overlaid with copper bands, and notes that Hulsen won the 1916 spar fight event. The third trophy, a pewter stein awarded for the 1919 spar fight event, is notable in that 1919 marked the return of the Highhold Games after a two-year intermission caused by World War I.
Portraits of Henry and Mabel Stimson by famed portrait artist Leopold Gould Seyffert. These portraits formerly hung at Highhold and are now part of the Society's collection.
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New Acquisition: A 1742 document details the sale of two enslaved persons from Huntington to East Hampton
It is a common misconception that slavery was rare in New York state.
According to The Long Island Museum's 2019 exhibit "Long Road to Freedom: Surviving Slavery on Long Island," in 1749 14% of the population of Suffolk County was comprised of enslaved persons.
The first U.S. Census, conducted in 1790, records approximately 3,260 people living in the Town of Huntington, of which 221 were enslaved, and 74 were free people of color.
The document pictured here, just acquired by the Huntington Historical Society, is a transactional record of the sale of two enslaved persons by Philip Platt of Huntington to John Mulford in "Easthampton."
(Please note: This is a direct transcription and includes errors or variations in spelling. Blanks denote a word that is indecipherable.)
Know all men by thes presents that I Philip Plat of Huntingtown in the County of Suffolk and Colony of New York for and in consideration of the sum of forty nine pound paid before the ensealing of these present have bargained and sold unto John Mulford of Easthampton in County and Province above said one ______ Negro woman known by the name of Rosean and a negro boy named Dago.
To have and to hold the said Negro woman and child unto John Mulford of Easthampton a ganest the claim of any persons or person whatsoever as slaves unto the said John Mulford to him, his heirs and __________ for ever.
As witness my hand this sixth day of April in the year of our Sovereign Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty two signed sealed and delivered in the presence of us
James Harries Philip Platt
What is Ephemera?
Typically made of paper, ephemera is the name given to collectible memorabilia that was intended for one-time or short term use. Examples include ticket stubs, political flyers, advertisements, maps, invitations, and greeting cards.
We're excited to share these examples of holiday ephemera, hand picked by our archives team from The Huntington Historical Society's collection.
Dated 1950, this fold-out holiday card was designed by George Earl Buzza, a commercial artist who opened his own greeting card company. Holiday cards in the 1950s frequently featured family-oriented and lighthearted motifs.
First Christmas Cards
The Christmas card tradition began in England in the 1840s when socialite Henry Cole found answering his stack of holiday mail a daunting task. Therefore, he asked his artist friend, J.C. Horsley, to design and print holiday cards with a salutation. By the end of the century, printed holiday greetings were commonplace in Britain and the United States.
Christmas cards were imported from England and Germany to America until 1874, when printer and lithographer Louis Prang printed the first American holiday greeting cards in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Initially the cards were scenes of woods and nature, but over the years, he included images of Santa and Christmas trees. By the 1880s, he printed about 5 million Christmas cards annually.
The U.S. Post Office was the only agency allowed to print and produce postcards until 1898, when congress passed the Private Mailing Card Act allowing publishers to produce cards for mailing by individuals. It was stipulated that the back could not be divided into space for both address and message. In 1907, the Post Office allowed postcards with a divided back, where the message was written on one side and the address on another. This is one way to date early postcards that don't have a dated postmark!
Do you see a name written under the stairs on the left side? This signature belongs to Ellen Clapsaddle, one of the most prolific illustrators of the late 1800s and early 1900s. She was one of very few working female illustrators/commercial artists, and her designs, usually featuring children, were and remain popular and highly collectible.
Click the images below to see vintage Christmas cards from our ephemera collection!
From all of us at The Huntington Historical Society, we wish you a very happy holiday!
The Huntington Historical Society is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the Town of Huntington. Please help us continue this work by making a donation!
“Poetry in Thread” celebrates one of our most delicate and beautiful textiles. Our exhibit will introduce you to the history and technique of lace making from the 17th century to today. With almost 50 items on display in the Dr. Daniel Kissam House, you’ll see examples of beautiful hand and machine-made lace, many from the 19th century.
We are particularly proud to have on display several fine pieces from a collection of Kissam family lace, which we recently acquired from the descendants of Dr. Kissam.
This blog has been written by various affiliates of the Huntington Historical Society.