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Minute of History: Farmingdale in 1910

(At the Village Pops Concert at the Farmingdale Village Green on July 18, Ms. Christiansen, deputy mayor, delivered this speech, the “Minute of History,” one in a series of speeches delivered at the Pops Concerts throughout the summer.)

I invite you to go back with me during the next few minutes as we look at the Village of Farmingdale one hundred years ago, in 1910.

The village had been incorporated six years earlier in 1904.  At that time an “enumeration” of the proposed village was taken, recording 1,047 residents.  In 1910 the federal decennial census was conducted, as it was this year.  The census of 1910 reflected 1,567 residents, an increase of 520 in six years.  The village was growing, and there were plenty of building lots available!

Utilities such as water, telephone and electricity had been introduced immediately prior to 1910 as had trolley service connecting Farmingdale to Huntington and Amityville on the Cross-Island Line.

Prospect Street was opened in 1910, with the first home that of Bernard Weiden.  Twelve brick row houses were also constructed on Washington and Columbia Streets, built with bricks from the brickyard in what is now Old Bethpage.

The post office at that time was located in a storefront on the east side of Main Street, near the location of today’s Clock Plaza.

There were two fire companies:  The Hook, Ladder and Hose Company had a station at Conklin and Washington Streets (presently the site of the Lotus Garden Restaurant), and the Water Witch Engine Company had a station in what is now the parking area of the McCourt & Trudden Funeral Home on Main Street.  The fire companies remained at these locations until the present village hall/fire house opened in 1932.

The original village hall was a wooden structure dating from the late 1800s, which had been built by the Town of Oyster Bay as a regional office for collecting taxes and hearing minor judicial cases.  Following the incorporation of the village, Farmingdale Village rented it from the town until purchasing it in 1925.  Our present village hall stands on the same site, as the original structure was razed in 1931.  The village “president” (or mayor) in 1910 was Mr. Adolph Bausch who served from 1909 to 1913.  

A new church congregation marked its beginning in Farmingdale in 1910.  St. Luke’s Lutheran Church first met for worship in members’ homes and briefly in a lodge hall before purchasing the vacant chapel on Washington Street in 1911.  This was the home of the congregation for the next 15 years; until the present church on Conklin Street was built in 1926.  We congratulate the members of St. Luke’s on their centennial this year.

Also in 1910, Adolph Bausch built a new and larger factory on Eastern Parkway for his picture frame and molding firm, closing the earlier complex at Rose and Richard Streets.  A few years later, the aviator Lawrence Sperry moved into the former Bausch property and opened an aircraft factory there, Farmingdale’s first aviation plant.

Nearby, at Main and Richard Streets, Heiselman’s Opera House was still quite new in 1910, opening just the year before.  It was Farmingdale’s first major auditorium, hosting vaudeville and variety shows until its closing in 1915.

Several “pickle works”, which processed cucumbers and cabbage from local farms, were in operation in 1910, mostly in the area of the Long Island Rail Road station.  Stern’s Pickle Works, located nearby our current Northside School, survived the longest, until the 1980s.

The list of tradesmen and merchants in the small village reflected a strong presence of an agricultural economy, with harness shops, blacksmiths, and grain and feed stores in operation.  Retail merchants were primarily centered on Main Street north of Conklin Street.  Main Street, south of Conklin, was still primarily a residential area in 1910.

This was an era without electronic communications, and “home entertainment” consisted of songs around the piano or phonograph in the family parlor.  But then, as now, the elected officials and other residents of the young village worked hard to move it forward.  Although the population a century ago was about one-sixth of that of today, the goal of keeping the Village of Farmingdale a safe, attractive and prosperous community has not changed with the passage of a century.