History and Mystery: The History and Legends of Islip, Long Island, and Beyond

Long Island lighthouses featured in Friends of Connetquot lecture series


Friends of Connetquot held a lecture, as part of its lecture series, on Saturday, April 29, at 1 p.m., at the historic Connetquot River State Park Preserve. It was presented on a rainy afternoon, which made the ambiance inside even more inviting, as Long Island history buffs and lighthouse lovers gathered around to listen to and view the presentation given by author Robert Müller, president of the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.

Attendees sat in rapt attention around this beacon of knowledge in the niche area of Long Island lighthouses. The comprehensive, almost two-hour lecture, examined in meticulous detail the history of more than 20 light stations, spanning more than two centuries. The presentation was based on Müller’s 2004 book of the same title.

Müller’s passion for lighthouses was evident throughout, as was his expertise in the subject matter, stemming from his experience as a local lighthouse history researcher and preservationist.

The program shed a light on the period ranging from the 1850s to the present day and included anecdotes about the eccentric, larger-than-life characters who were the lighthouse keepers, as well as showing old photographs and postcards of many of these figures and their families in front of their impressive light towers. It also gave the audience a chance to see lighthouses, which are no longer standing, from when they were in their heyday.

It has been a passion of Müller’s to research the history of our local lighthouses since 1998. However, he has been visiting lighthouses with his family since he was a boy, and he and his wife were even married in one. He also served as a volunteer at several of the area’s lighthouses, and is currently a member of the Old Field Lighthouse Foundation’s Board of Directors and a member of the Stepping Stones Lighthouse Preservation Committee. Müller was the founding president of the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Long Island Chapter, from 2000 to 2005, a position he resumed in August 2019. He is also a past president of the East Islip Historical Society.

Lectures are free for members of Friends of Connetquot. Non-members pay just $5 per person. If you’re a history afficionado, consider becoming a member to enjoy quality programming such as this all year long, while meeting other likeminded residents who share a love of remembering and preserving Long Island history.

The Friends of Connetquot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and history of the 3,473-acre Connetquot River State Park Preserve. The group of local historians and residents strive to assist management to protect a pristine and bucolic locale and its historic buildings, such as the cozy and eclectic one in which this lecture took place, filled with historic artifacts on display.  In addition, Friends of Connetquot supports a variety of educational programs, fishing facilities, hiking, and equestrian trails.

Go to friendsofconnetquot.org for more information and to find out about upcoming events.

If you have an idea for a local historical story, mystery, or legend you would like to see featured in this column, message shanabraff@optonline.net


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