It has been said that the late Robert David Lion Gardiner held a special place in his heart for Riverhead. Now the foundation named after him can call Riverhead home.
The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on regional history, completed the move of its headquarters from Hampton Bays to Riverhead July 11. The new office location is 30 West Main St.
What was the move like?
“Madness,” Kathryn Curran, the foundation’s executive director, said in a phone interview.
The new location brings benefits, like greater convenience for the foundation’s clients, she said.
“Actually, it became kind of cumbersome for our clients to get to us in Hampton Bays, so this was much more centrally located as far as the commute from Manhattan and much easier for our clients to reach us,” Ms. Curran said, noting the new site offers a more professional venue.
She doesn’t mind the view from her third-floor office that looks out on the rooftops of historic downtown Riverhead, either. “It’s beautiful,” she said.
The foundation, which has joined the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce, started in 1987. It was inspired by Mr. Gardiner’s passion for regional history. Some of that history can be found in his own family. Mr. Gardiner, who died 2004, was the 16th lord of the manor of Gardiner’s Island. His family and their descendants have owned Gardiner’s Island since 1639, obtained as part of a royal grant from King Charles I of England.
The foundation awards about $5 million a year to historic organizations in New York State, said Ms. Curran.
She pointed out that the foundation has given $659,216.50 to historical venues in Riverhead since 2014 (over $500,000 to the Suffolk County Historical Society, over $36,000 to Hallockville Museum Farm, $38,000 to Jamesport Meeting House and over $73,000 to the First Congregational Church of Riverhead).
“As a retired State Supreme Court Justice who sat in Riverhead for 25 years, it’s good to be back,” Peter Cohalan, the Suffolk County historian, former county executive and one of the foundation’s five trustees, said in a press release issued by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce. “Through its grants, the foundation is fulfilling the vision of its founder. Our grantors’ programs represent the living embodiment of Mr. Gardiner’s wishes to educate and delight the people of Long Island and New York State. They demonstrate the foundation’s commitment to the historic, cultural and artistic heritage of the residents of Long Island, New York City and New York State.”
Ms. Curran said: “We are completely moved in. It’s just the technical difficulties of getting the phones set up and the computers up and going the way they should be, so other than that it’s a beautiful building and it’s a lovely space and we’re very happy to be here.”