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Beautifying Sagamore Hill

The Friends of Sagamore Hill gathered on Wednesday, June 12 to dedicate a new flowerbed that was installed at the entrance to Sagamore Hill, and to hold an election of new officers.

Park volunteer Margarethe Randall and Peter Hogarty of Ireland Gannon Associates, conceived the idea for the flower bed and conducted research on which types of flowers should be included. They decided on some of first lady Edith Roosevelt’s favorite plantings from her cutting garden, including coreopsis, Montauk daisy and clematis.

The National Park Service’s Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation designed the installation. The project cost more than $4,000, which was raised by the Friends of Sagamore Hill under the direction of board member Michael Vezzi.

Vezzi expressed his admiration for Theodore Roosevelt’s life and his writings, and his commitment to keeping the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt alive. Like many people who volunteer, he feels a desire to give back to the community. In turn, the volunteers feel appreciated and welcomed by the staff at Sagamore Hill.

Thomas Ross, Superintendent of Sagamore Hill, is currently on special assignment assisting in the rebuilding of Ellis Island, which was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy. In his absence, Eric Witzke and Amy Varone have been designated as Acting Superintendents. Varone gave an update on the progress at Sagamore Hill. A plan to repair the bridge to the marsh, which was also damaged in Sandy, has been approved, and construction bids are being solicited. The new bridge will be raised a foot higher, and will be wider than the old bridge. It is hoped that construction will start in July, and the bridge will re-open by fall. The house restoration is on schedule, and is about half way through the project. Some of the original shingles have been found, and they are in remarkably good shape. Emergency generators will also be installed at Sagamore Hill and the Old Orchard Museum.

Varone also shared a very special Eagle Scout sash, which was owned by Bob Praver of Oyster Bay. He became an Eagle Scout in 1936, and participated in three of the Scout pilgrimages held in Oyster Bay. On each pilgrimage, he was given a special merit badge, which was affixed to the sash. Bob has donated his stash and badges to Sagamore Hill. They are a very special part of Oyster Bay history.

Brother Laurence, the new Chairman of the Friends group stated, “It would be hard to have a more memorable evening than when you get together with friends and associates to thank them for their commitment. To be able to dedicate yourself to work at Sagamore Hill National Historic Park is a special honor. To be taking over as chairman, I could not think of better way to segue into a new responsibility as chairman of the friends.”