Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 19 February 2014 00:00
Rich in history, New Hyde Park has been home to famous races, semi-pro baseball team and high-profile governmental entities. Babe Ruth once attended a Barton Nighthawks baseball game at Barton’s Stadium, which stood on Jericho Turnpike in 1938. The United
Nations had temporary headquarters on Union Turnpike from 1946-51 while its current New York City headquarters was under construction and the storied Vanderbilt Cup races ran through Lakeville Road and Jericho Turnpike.
New Hyde Park Historical Society President Carol Nowakowski and Keller Williams Realty agent/social media expert Mildred Tassone, are looking to preserve and highlight these history snippets and more once the New Hyde Park Museum holds its opening ceremony on Friday, Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
“We want people to know the history of where they live,” Nowakowski said. “We decided that we wanted to display what the history of New Hyde Park is. The people should know about their town and its past.”
The second floor of Village Hall on Jericho Turnpike will transform into a museum of pictures, historical items and memorabilia. The location is fitting, since the hall was New Hyde Park’s first elementary school, in 1906.
“It really is the perfect place for the museum,” Nowakowski said.
Florence Lisanti, the first woman to be elected a village trustee, served as historian until 2010. Nowakowski succeeded Lisanti and has lived in New Hyde Park since 1959.
Residents, including Nowakowski, Tassone, village trustee Donald Barbieri, Barbara Teepe, June Nagy, among others, kick-started the development of the museum. Nowakowski says the museum is still building its inventory and is actively seeking item donations.
“We are all volunteers and the village has been very cooperative,” Tassone, vice president of the museum, said. “For the launch, we’ll have stuff in the William Gill Theatre [at Village Hall]. What we’re trying to do is showcase the building’s historic value.”
The museum will have four exhibit cycles, starting this month to April, highlighting the history of Village Hall, local Boys and Girls Scouts and the New Hyde Park Fire Department. The second exhibit will feature Little Leagues and local businesses while the third and fourth exhibits will focus on the beginning settlers, Barton’s Stadium, farming history and old buildings.
“We want to focus on business, community groups and connect the dots yesterday,” she said. “Today’s events are tomorrow's history. New people move in and you want them to learn about where they are.”
The museum plans to set up satellite locations at the Hillside Public Library, local businesses and the Long Island Rail Road Station on New Hyde Park Road. Tassone says the LIRR locale will have a social media twist.
“We’ll have QR codes when people are waiting, they can use their smartphone to scan the code and they’ll have all old photos at their fingertips,” she stated. “We want to make it very easy for people to access things as we put them together.”
Tassone, whose family has lived in the area since 1915, said the museum is not specific to the village, but to the entire 11040 area code, which is mostly unincorporated. “This whole area has a great story and it needs to be told,” she said.
While the exhibit will hit the ground running next week, Nowakowski feels there is still work to be done.
“We are really a long way from where we eventually will be,” she said. “It takes a lot of time and money via grants.”
Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello secured a $17,000 grant for the creation of the museum in June 2012. He lives in and represents parts of New Hyde Park.
“It’s a great idea to help capture the history of the community,” he said. “We worked with the county parks department to obtain the grant. We got some display cases, recorders and such. This is the type of funding that is deserved.”
Nicolello has worked closely with New Hyde Park, specifically Donald Barbieri, in the past. Barbieri, a lifelong resident, is “excited for the opening.”
“I’m excited,” Barbieri said. “I know how hard they have worked on this trying to organize everything. It’s coming together. It didn’t happen overnight.”
For more information on the museum, visit newhydeparkmuseum.shuttlepod.org or go to facebook.com/newhydeparkmuseum