Holiday House Tour at Sagtkos Manor
WEST BAY SHORE—Last Saturday and Sunday, the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society hosted a Holiday House Tour at the historic building on Montauk Highway. The Suffolk County-owned site has been extensively enlarged by numerous additions and renovations during its more than 300 years as a residence.
The property was first patented to Stephanus Van Cortlandt, the first native-born New York mayor, who built the original section around 1697. The prominent Thompson and Gardiner families later owned it throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Judge Isaac Thompson (played by Judge Lawrence Donohue) greeted visitors outside the house over the snowy weekend, before they moved inside to the Music Room. There, Celeste Topazio explained how candy became a vital part of the Industrial Revolution. “It was the first commodity children could spend their money on,” she said. “Innovation made candy more affordable and ready for mass production.”
Topazio also explained confectioner Tom Smith’s transition from lollipops to the Christmas cracker, Milton Hershey’s switch from caramel to his famous milk chocolate, and how the candy cane was designed to resemble staffs carried by farmers.
Docent Doria Frank, along with her assistants – siblings Leo, Isabella and Charles Reitzel – then taught visitors inside the Gardiner Parlor about the historical meaning of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas, which means “coming, arrival.” The Bake Room docent, Susana Bouza, elaborated on the season’s traditions: the Advent calendar, which dates back to 1800s Germany; and the Advent wreath, which symbolizes immortality and resurrection.
Mrs. Van Cortlandt (portrayed by Patti Walsh) later explained in the Van Cortlandt Parlor how Christmas, which was originally banned by the Puritans, was celebrated in the late 1600s to early 1700s. Roberta Evers and Beverly Luciano, working in character as Bridget and Colleen, were also busy in the Colonial Kitchen, making traditional homemade Christmas decorations.
The Peacock Dining Room was the most elegant room of Frederick Diodati Thompson’s 1902 addition to Sagtikos Manor. Here, housekeeper Mrs. Radigan (Virginia Bonfiglio), Sarah Gardiner (Maria Pecorale) and parlor maids, played by Nancy Erikson and Kathleen Newill, explained what it was like to be part of the service staff in the country home back in the day. Visitors were then led through the 1902 stairway, where they were greeted by society members Andrea Ewerling and Janet Hogan.
Lastly, visitors stepped into both the Butler’s Pantry and the New Kitchen to see Christmas preparations taking place. “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” the cook said. Docents here included Cindy Theiss, Paul Ingvoldstad, Michael Weiner, Eileen Curran, Joan Firmery and Diane Weiner.
The manor was used as a local headquarters for British forces under Sir General Henry Clifton during the American Revolution. President George Washington also recorded staying the night in his diary during his first tour of Long Island in 1790.
Donations were used by the Sagtikos Manor Historical Society to fund restoration projects for the building, the gardens, and other programs. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
For more information about Sagtikos Manor or to learn about upcoming events, go to the website www.sagtikosmanor.org.
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