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Strawberry Fields Forever? Maybe!

Enjoy this Saturday's Strawberry Festival at Massapequa's Historic Complex.

This coming

Saturday, June 16, the Historical Society of the Massapequas will hold its annual Strawberry Festival in the front of Old Grace Church on Merrick Road
across from Cedar Shore Drive.

The festival has existed since the early 1980s, when the Society became a large and active guardian of this area's history. What makes this year's festival unusual is that it may be an"almost" festival. Because of the unusually warm winter and early spring, strawberries have ripened much earlier than they normally do. We may have difficulty securing enough local strawberries to sell as fresh fruit or to add to shortcake. Everybody is welcome to come and see how we've met this latest challenge to our efforts to preserve and promote Massapequa's history.

Please remember that all monies received from strawberries, sodas, franks, snacks, white elephant sales and other endeavors go to support the work of the Society. We recently replaced the roof on top of the Floyd-Jones Servants' Cottage and did some landscaping around the building. We are also contracting to have the Church's steeple illuminated every evening and are waging another round in our never-ending battle with squirrels and other local wildlife that enjoy visiting Old Grace.

The Church was built in 1844 and is one of the oldest buildings in the area. It was originally the Floyd-Jones family's church, but attracted other settlers through the nineteenth century. It was enlarged in 1905, but eventually became too small to meet the needs of the expanding post-World War II population. When the new church opened across the street in 1962, it fell into disuse until 1981, when the Historical Society agreed to take care of the building and maintain it.

The Servants' Cottage originally sat on the other side of Merrick Road, just north of the present Bar Harbour Library. It was part of the estate of Elbert Floyd-Jones, who built it in 1870. His mansion burned in the 1920s and the Cottage remained for several decades as a rental property. It fell into disuse and was rescued, again by the Historical Society. Preservation efforts were much more complicated in this case, because the new owners wanted the building moved and it was in fragile condition. With skill, cooperation, and more than a few prayers, the Cottage was moved across Merrick Road in 1986 and underwent significant and time-consuming renovations, bringing it to its current attractive and charming state as a model of early twentieth century life and as an office for the Society.

While not owned by the Society, the Floyd-Jones Library shares space in Massapequa's Historic Complex. An 1896 structure, built thanks to the generosity of Col. Delancey Floyd-Jones, it houses many book collections that are no longer available in typical public libraries, as well as histories and genealogical charts documenting the Jones and Floyd-Jones families. It too will be open during the Strawberry Festival.

Visitors are also encouraged to walk through the Grace Church Cemetery and the Floyd-Jones Cemetery, the latter in the rear of the property. The original white settlers of this area, Freelove and Thomas Jones, are interred here, as are their offspring and descendants. Like Grace Church's Cemetery, this is an active burial ground and you are invited to wander reflectively and respectfully.

The Strawberry Festival will be held from 10 until 4. Come and visit with us and with your friends and neighbors. Share (we hope) strawberries and our neighborhood's history.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

George Kirchmann June 18, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Curlyhead, Thanks for your kind words, but credit must be given where it is due. The Cemetery is owned by Grace Church, which indeed does an excellent job of maintaining it. I especially like that they allow visitors to leave flowers, pictures and other mementos on the gravesites. It makes it look more familial and less solemn. The Historical Society owns the Old Grace Church building itself, as well as the Servants' Cottage. They keep us busy enough! Thanks for your interest in Massapequa's history. George Kirchmann First Vice President Historical Society of the Massapequas

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