Celebrating Riverhead’s 225th anniversary at museum exhibit

The lock and key from Riverhead’s first jailhouse in 1792; a photo of a 100-foot-high water tower that used to stand in Grangebel Park; a banner from Riverhead High School’s Class of 1918, which is maroon, not blue; and a photo of the Capitol Theatre on West Main Street, which existed from 1920 and, along with the Suffolk Theater, was a downtown movie theater until it was demolished in the early 1960s.

Those are among the interesting artifacts you can find in Suffolk County Historical Society’s Riverhead Town 225th Anniversary Celebration exhibit.

The exhibit, curated by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, opened Saturday and will remain on display until Dec. 22, according to Victoria Berger, executive director of the Riverhead museum.

Ms. Berger also gave a brief presentation about the exhibition at last Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session.

The exhibition includes information the town’s being named the Suffolk County seat in 1727, and covers the history of all of the town’s supervisors and the early founding of its government, she said.

“This exhibit also covers heavily and celebrates the agricultural industry here in Riverhead,” Ms. Berger said, noting that Riverhead has been the center of Long Island agriculture for 300 years and has 20,000 of Long Island’s 35,000 acres of farmland.

School photos dating back to the turn of the century, photos of Riverhead landmarks, a “turn of the century” Riverhead High School football uniform and memorabilia from various events also are on display, she said.

The historical society was founded in 1886 and has more than 16,000 square feet of artifacts and exhibits, she said.

“Our collection predates civil town and county record keeping,” Ms. Berger said.

While it wasn’t initially planned as part of the 225th anniversary exhibit, a display from Jack Rose’s “Color Riverhead” book is also on view at the museum until Oct. 28.

“We had an open exhibit for October and I was wondering what to do and he literally walked in the door,” Ms. Berger said of Mr. Rose. “I had seen the coloring books before, so when he came in, I said, ‘Oh my God. Yes. This will work.’ It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

Mr. Rose also has 3D models of 19 landmark Riverhead sites on display, including Star Confectionery, the Long Island Aquarium and St. Isidore R.C. Church, among others.

He also has a map on display that was made to look like a map from 1908, he said.

Mr. Rose, a part-time Greenport resident, has also created “Color Greenport” and “Color Sag Harbor” books.

Photo caption: Suffolk County Historical Society executive director (from left) Victoria Berger, curator Wendy Polhemus-Annibell and Riverhead Town historian Georgette Case at Saturdays’s opening of the museum’s exhibit celebrating Riverhead Town’s 225th anniversary. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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