BUSINESSES:  SAYVILLE -  MONTAUK HIGHWAY/NORTH MAIN

and SOUTH MAIN/MIDDLE ROAD

 

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The Golden Eagle

C. M. Rogers

Kost & Other Garages

Sayville Ford

Gerbers

Kensington Hotel

Grand Central

Stein Buildings (far right)

Brush Block (right)

Thornhill's Drug Store

Smith's Block

Foster House

Robert Holmes

H.L. Terry Building

Robinson House

Gordon & Gordon

Sayville Inn

Nick's Clam Bar


 

 Old Montauk Highway & North Main Street

 

The Golden Eagle/Milestone

C.M. Rogers & Son

 

# 553, Golden Eagle/ Milestone: Mr. and Mrs. Pelham Bolton, both noted antiquarians, came to Sayville in June 1929, possibly encouraged by his widower father, James A. Bolton, who was prominent in real estate in the area.  Initially, Pelham Bolton opened a shop next to the Bayport Post Office, repairing/refinishing high grade furniture, producing hand-made reproductions, and selling antiques.  In April 1934, he moved his operations to this building at the corner of Broadway in Sayville.  On July 1st, 1935, his wife and a partner, Mrs. LeRoy Meyers, opened the Golden Eagle Tea Room, serving meals around a cozy fireplace among the antiques at the same location.  In January 1939, Pelham Bolton rented a store for use as a woodworking shop at 40 Railroad Avenue in the remodeled Thornhill Building. In May, the Golden Eagle was leased to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rohm and the name changed to The Milestone, a name that it retained until it became The Dog and Duck in August 1954. Multiple name-changes (among them On Broadway, Sweet Magnolias) followed as the original building was expanded and today it is Blackbird's, still serving food and drink but no antiques.  J.A. Bolton having died in 1936, the Pelham Boltons left Sayville for Massachusetts in September 1939.

 

C. M. Rogers & Son,at the Tracks:   Charles M. Rogers succeeded his father, T.H. Rogers, with a garage fronting on North Main and an ice plant facing Hansen Place. In the latter, they established a  natural "guaranteed pure" ice business about 1893.  In 1899, C.M. added Hygeia Ice to the natural.  In February 1906, he tore down all of his ice houses so that Robert Nunns could utilize the lumber to build a new ice manufacturing plant. The plant opened in May of that year, capable of producing a 300 pound block of ice every 20 minutes or about ten tons in the 24 hour day the plant was expected to operate. In 1908, the facility was expanded to produce 18 tons daily.  In September 1915, he sold the garage to J. Arthur McGowin  and in September 1924, the ice plant to the Knickerbocker Ice Company of Brooklyn.  The garage and most of the plant and its 65 foot smokestack were demolished in early 1930 as the North Main Street grade crossing was eliminated with the construction of an underpass; some ice storage space remained.

 

Undated postcard from collection of the Sayville Library;

photo from Geo. W. Richardson, New York, 1911

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 North Main Street

 

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# 267 N. Main @ Macon, Kost Garage:  William Kost begun business as a Willys-Overland dealer in 1919; later he also handled Jackson Wolverine Eights.  In the spring of 1920, he contracted for building a three-story garage with an ornamental brick front and living apartments on second floor.  The garage opened On September 3.  In April 1928, Kost built an additional new building 59 X 70 feet, adjacent to the three already existing : storage, repair and display. It faced but was set back from North Main to afford space for gas pumps.  In early 1930, New York State built an underpass to eliminate the North Main railroad grade crossing and construction necessitated the removal of all but one of Kost's gasoline pumps and the demolition of another nearby garage built by C.M. Rogers about 1910.  Unfortunately, the underpass also cut his business off from the major traffic artery and proved very detrimental to his sales. Consequently, in August 1930, he bought a new garage constructed for Charles A. Rohm at Main Street and Garfield Avenue for $ 65,000; it was a fire-proof, concrete structure 140 X 140 feet in size.  It was his expectation to continue business at both locations but that did not happen; in June 1943, Kost leased the Garfield Avenue building to Insulation Packing Company for the manufacture of plastics and plastic goods for the War effort and in November 1951, he sold it to August Kappell.  One Kost Garage still stands by the railroad tracks and appears to be McGowin's or a closely resemble taht one (see below).

 

# 273 N. Main, McGowin's Garage:  In September 1915, J. Arthur McGowin of Southampton purchased the Clarence M. Rogers Company, the local Ford dealer; the agency also handled Paige-Detroit and Maxwell cars.  McGowin was on the "To Be Called Up" draft list in July 1917.  Ads for Kost that year suggest that the property was acquired by Kost Garage.

 

N. Main, Duryea Garage:  In 1914, Charles H. Duryea established his machine shop on Railroad Avenue across from the Kensington Hotel; in August 1915, he opened his new fireproof  110x45 foot garage at the same site.  He specialized in car repairs and car rentals.  About 1919 the business was re-located to North Main (photo above), previously the site of Robert Holmes blacksmith.  Shortly thereafter, the business was  sold to Ritchie & Gordon.

   

Postcard and photos above from collection of George E. Spruce

 

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North Main Street

 

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Sayville Ford, 1957

 

# 102, Sayville Ford: Mead's Garage opened at this address about April 1932.  Very soon thereafter, it was acquired by George B, Fritzsche who had established a French Bakery at 56 South Main Street in 1926.  As his bakery business had increased, Mr. Fritzsche was servicing customers within a 50 mile radius, adding more trucks to his fleet, and required facilities for cleaning, servicing and storing them each night. In April 1934, in response to customer requests, he opened his garage to the public, offering  full 24-hour service on cars and marine engines.  In September 1940, Arthur Hoefler, Islip Ford Dealer, acquired South Shore Motor Corporation located on West Main.  In April 1943, the dealership relocated to the former Fritzsche Garage where, in conjunction with the garage and gasoline service, there was also room for a used car lot.  In April 1957, Neil Spare and Jack Lembeck  purchased the operation which became a/k/a Sayville Ford. Spare had had 25 years of auto, including management , experience with P.J. Grady in West Sayville and William Mantha in Sayville; Lembeck had been district supervisor with Standard Oil for 11 years. Lembeck soon left to take over Suffolk County Chrysler in Patchogue/Blue Point. After U.S. Navy service, in 1966 Neil Jr. joined his father in the business which, in 1975, moved to its present location at 5686 Sunrise Highway.  It had expanded from 13 employees in its original location to 55 at the new one and become the largest Ford Dealership on Long Island.  Sayville Subaru took over the original venue but after several years Sayville Ford returned and opened the Car Shoppe, principally selling used cars.  The building has since been demolished and Walgreen's has opened in its place.

 

Photo courtesy of Sayville Ford

 

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North Main Street

 

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Gerber Department Store

1916

1920

1925

 

Gerber's/Goodman's/King Kullen: Francis Gerber was born in Austria in 1842 and came to the U.S. at 18 age, a poor boy.  He began by peddling from a pack on his back, soon obtained a horse and wagon, and in 1872 selected Sayville as his home, building a modest store at the corner of Main and Smith Streets; he was the first Jewish merchant in Town.  That store burned to the ground on September 12, 1877 and was immediately rebuilt, larger and better than ever.  Thereafter he kept enlarging and modernizing it until it often came to be described as "the most completely stocked department store in Suffolk County"; among items included were groceries, clothing, shoes, furniture, tableware, linens, animal feeds and fertilizer. On Christmas Day, 1875, he married Fannie Hirsch and, after her death in 1904, married her sister Clara.  Following his death in July 1921, his brother-in-law, Gilbert Hirsch, managed operations for several years before selling to Harry Goodman & Son in the fall of 1924. Goodman made very significant renovations and extensions.  However, on February 14th 1933, the store was sold at public auction to Daniel Rosenzweig who was very notably unsuccessful and it was resold again in January 1934 to local Judge Daniel D. White and Seward S. Travis, Superintendent of Schools. Finally, King Kullen Supermarket opened in the building on January 30th, 1936, utilizing only the first floor.  Several efforts were made to occupy the upper stories and in October 1947, the Islip Town Board did authorize a limited permit for the Grove Manufacturing Company to produce women's dresses there.  On December 10th, 1954 Hill's Market, successor to King Kullen, closed its doors and the building was demolished (as the Kensington Hotel had been next door) to make place for a shopping center with a new Bohack's Super Market as the anchor.

 

In the left picture, the triangular garden which Ida Gillette used to tend is Sparrow Park, named for the birds that used to sing in the tree.  The sign across the road promotes Democratic candidates who ran for President and Vice-President, Wilson and Marshall who served in office 1913-1921.

 

Undated postcards left & center both from collection of Sayville Library; undated postcard right from collection of Neil J. Spare, Jr

 

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North Main Street

 

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 Kensington Hotel: The Davis Inn and Grocery was the first public building in the unnamed town of Sayville, built about 1830 at what is now the corner of Railroad Avenue and Main Street. In 1837, it was acquired by William Bedell and known as the Bedell Tavern. Citizens met there in 1838 to decide on a name they would submit to the Post Office Department as their preference for the hamlet; unfortunately, their choice, "Seaville", was misspelled and finalized as "Sayville"... Andrew S. Kennedy, who took over the Hotel in1900, bought the establishment from Morris J. Terry in 1906 and initiated significant improvements which included re-orienting the main building, remodeling existing facilities, adding an office, public parlor and writing room, 14 guestrooms, and additional toilet facilities. Following a long tenure as owner/operator, Kennedy died very suddenly in April 1918. Several other managers then followed before Alfred Sykes took over in the mid 1930s. To assuage thirsty patrons during Prohibition, in 1925 the Hotel opened the Green Lantern Tea Room.  In 1945, August Kappel purchased the Hotel with undisclosed plans which apparently did not materialize. The Hotel closed its doors for the last time in January 1952 and late the following year it passed to a New Jersey group who began demolition in November 1953. A more detailed History of the Kensington may be found under "Hotels".

 

Undated postcards from collection of the Sayville Library

 

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 Sparrow Park

 

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Drawing of proposed building 1884

Tenant about 1915

Grand Central about 1907

 

Gillette House/Grand Central/Duryea Building: Two locally well-respected retired sea captains, Jacob Smith and Charles Zebulon Gillette, founded Smith & Gillette, a general store, in 1850 at the intersection of North and South Main Streets. Smith dropped out and in 1884 Gillette & Son built their new larger building at the same location, 60 feet front on North Main, 83 1/2 feet on South Main, and 56 feet on Sparrow Park where it was three stories high .  The I.O.O.F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) moved into the third floor and remained until they built their own quarters on Foster Avenue Extension in February 1936 and H.T. Rogers Restaurant & Confectionery took one of three independent stores on the first floor facing Sparrow Park.  The Gillettes occupied most of the rest with their general merchandise.  Following the untimely early death of his only son in March 1888, Gillette sold his business to Edgar W. Green and H. Treadwell Rogers, who introduced trading stamps for cash purchasers (for use in their own store), installed a handsome soda fountain, and had a sales force of ten with four wagons making circuits of the village taking orders and delivering them.  In February 1900, Rogers left for another opportunity in New York City. Green sold the business to Ellsworth Crum, a Maryland oysterman, and Charles I. Averill in November 1903. They continued until December 1906 when they apparently ran into financial difficulties; perhaps the competition from Gerber's across the street was too much. They transferred the entire stock, fixtures and good will to the Long Island Purchasing Company, brokers from Brooklyn, who disposed of all stock at a clearance sale.  G.C. DeGroot of Ronkonkoma came in and ran a new operation, apparently without groceries, for short time but the "department store" operation was gone.  In 1907, the Gillettes, who still owned the building, renovated the first floor creating two more stores and and easier access to the upper floors;  the second floor was to be used for various events, special sales, shows, etc. and the third would continue in be the province of lodges and clubs.  Ida Gillette sold the building to Charles Duryea in November 1923 for $ 25,000 and he spent several thousand dollars on improvements.  Nevertheless, in November 1925 he sold it for $ 50,000 to the Jamaica-based Merkel Brothers, millionaire producers of bologna and other meats, who had always been owners of the ground under the building; they said that their purchase was "for speculative purposes".  Two years later, they decided to raze the Gillette House and lease the land for a new, modern gasoline station. For many years, it was Dick's Gulf.

 

Sparrow Park Ice Cream Room: A tenant in Grand Central, sold ice cream, candies, tobacco and stationery from at least 1915 until 1927. William Pausewang sold it to Stuffel Jimlette in September 1926 and the entire building was razed in 1927

 

Photos left and center from collection of Sayville Library; right from collection of Sayville Historical Society

 

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South Main Street

 

Photo shows from left to right: Grand Central, Brush Block, Stein Buildings

 

# 2 and # 8, Stein Buildings:  Freeman Howe," Practical Plumber and Gas & Steam Fitting" as well as a stove dealer, opened his business in the formerly Jedlicka store in Smith's Block on March 15,.1889. In early 1890, he re-located to 2 South Main which remained a haven for plumbers/ tinsman/stoves for many years.  Howe was followed successively by Forrest Gordon, Gordon & Edwards (single and apart), S.A. Fisher, and G. W. Robinson and A.P. Robinson and A.C. Penny (trading as Robinson & Penny). At the end of 1919, Frank F. Walter's Haberdashery, moving from the Oystermen's Bank building, acquired the premises and shortly thereafter sold out to Jacob Bernstein who renamed it "B. & R. Shop-The Central Haberdashery''. In 1925, after a short partnership with W. Clifford Green, Bernstein sold out and bought Otto's Meat Market in the Brush Block. Green then entered another partnership with William H. Stryker which lasted from August 1925 until January 1929. In May 1932 Green sold the business to Harry Schermer, proprietor of the Sayville Outlet Store which had opened at 69 Main Street in October 1929;  in June  1932,  it moved to 2 South Main.  However, the venture apparently was not successful because the Outlet Store "Lost its Lease", closed its doors, and Schermer left town in November 1933......Harry Stein brought his family from Brooklyn to Sayville in October 1922 and bought J. A. Nauert's stationery, tobacco, news depot, picture frame and sewing machine business which had begun in 1886 at 8 South Main. The store had a long soda fountain and patrons could spend the entire afternoon browsing magazines (or smoking cigars). In the late 1920s, a large toy department was added and brother-in-law Jacob Bernstein became a partner for about five years.  In November 1935, Harry Stein leased from H.L. Terry (who had recently bought from Ida Gillette) the next-door corner store on Gillette Avenue and broke a door through, connecting the two.  He also broadened his line of men's clothes and shoes that he had been trying out. That year, the family moved from upstairs to a house.  After WW II, Stein concentrated more on clothing and then later, just men's furnishings.  The front was altered in both 1953 and 1961.  Harry retired in 1956, son Irving later, and son Simon finally closed the business in December 2000. The buildings now house Home Haven Decor and Century 21 Bays Edge real estate.

 

Postcard dated September 27, 1924 from collection of Tony Brinkmann

 

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 South Main Street

 

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Brush Block (white,right)

 

 Otto Brothers Meat Market

   First Public Library 

 

                                

Brush Block: Before he served in the Civil War as a Naval doctor, Doctor George R. Brush acquired a sizable piece of land along South Main Street stretching from about present day 8 to the Foster House property, about 78; this encompassed the original "Brush Block" which included both free-standing single and multiple-tenant buildings. (Up through the 1930s, "blocks" rather than numbers were often used as addresses.)   Before his death in December 1894, the Doctor had intended to build an additional new building.  In 1904, his wife carried through on the wish; the new building on the west end of the site, replacing the barber shop of John DeGraff and Brandt's Fish Market, was designated "Brush Memorial", had two floors, and a footprint about 47 square feet. Otto Brothers Meat Market and M. Maizels Watchmaker and Jeweler occupied the lower floor. About a year later, the upper floor was subdivided in five offices. Otto Brothers dissolved their partnership in August 1906; Thomas Otto continued the shop while Bertram took more interest in their coal and wood business as well as their poultry farm. In March 1914, Mrs. Francis Hoag organized the Sayville Village Improvement Society which, within a few months, proposed a Village Library. Mrs. Brush offered free accommodation for both on her second floor; the Library opened November 14, 1914 and remained for ten years.  In about 1922, Thomas Otto bought the building and its site from Ida Gillette for about $ 15,000. By this time its depth had been extended to about 85 feet; besides the Market, tenants included William Boss's (later referred to as "Barney's") Barber Shop in the east end and upstairs offices of The Suffolk Citizen, then Sayville's  Democratic weekly, owned by Otto's daughter, Virginia. In 1925, Otto finally sold the Meat Market to nearby neighbor Jacob Bernstein who, in turn, had just recently sold his clothing business to his partner, Clifford Green.  Vanity Square Salon is the present occupant of lower level.

 

Top undated Postcard from collection of Tony Brinkman

Bottom left undated from collection of George L. Spruce

Bottom right photo from collection of Sayville Library

 

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South Main Street

 

   Thornhill's Drug Store, 1916

 

Thornhill's Drug Store:  Sewell Thornhill, a graduate of Columbia University College of Pharmacy and after several years in the drug business, came to Town looking for drug store of his own and in November 1896 took over one in the Brush Block on South Main Street which had been successfully run for many years by Ferdinand Vigne who had recently sold it to Harry Bronson.  When New York Telephone first extended its lines to Sayville, the first "central exchange" was located in this drug store and, as noted in a later advertisement, Thornhill's proprietor was also its operator.  Thornhill's  retained the telephone number "1" (and its subsequent modifications, 0001) until it went out of business in April 2010.  In 1917, Thornhill had a new building designed by I.H. Green built on the west corner of Gillette and Main and moved in about November 1.  Unfortunately, he was killed as a result of an auto accident in November 1931.  His son, Sewell Edwards Thornhill, also a Columbia Pharmacy graduate, assumed the business but in December 1932 was also killed in an auto crash; his brother, Robert then took over.  In the 1950s, to accommodate more merchandise in the very limited space, the soda fountain and tables and chairs were removed from one of the Town's favorite meeting places.  In 1960, long-time employee, Alfred Kunsch, purchased the store and business from the family. The significant expansion of large drug chains in the local area brought about demise of the landmark a half a century later.

 

Photograph, pre-1911, from collection of the Sayville Library

 

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South Main Street

 

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Smith's Block:  The Block had its first significant fire March 25, 1896; it destroyed Ellsworth Crum's clothing store and Julius Hauser's bake shop and home. It later became part of the "Brush" Block and lastly the "Brown Block". (As noted elsewhere, up through the 1930s, "blocks", usually referring to their owners, rather than numbers were often used as addresses.) When Mrs. Margaret Brush died on March 9, 1916, her Will directed that her estate should be shared by her two cousins, Ida F. Gillette and Charles A. Brown.  The Brush Block, which consisted of both single- and multi-tenant buildings, was apparently divided at this point. Among a rash of arson fires including another block of stores on North Main Street, in January 1992 most of the original east-end Smith Block was destroyed by fire; the Federal Government approved Sayville as a Disaster Loan Area and owners of all businesses destroyed were eligible for low interest loans.  Jeremiah Brown, owner of most of the stores at that time, started rebuilding immediately but there were many delays and the five stores with offices upstairs were not ready for occupancy until January of 2002...Among the many tenants over the years were the two below, generations apart. # 50, Sayville Dog Grooming:  Business was initiated in April 1972 by Rita M. Berg and Florence M. Picken and closed in 1981.

# 64, A. Burns Ice Cream Shop: In October 1888, Frank Frear established a restaurant, ice cream, confectionary, and tobacco store in the Smith Block. About 1893, he sold it to Clayton E. Lea who added "fruits" to his items for sale. In 1900, he sold it to Albert Burns who had previously been in the livery and stage business.  Mr. Burns and his two sons, Frank and Albert, ran the business for about 25 years, closing it down in 1929.  Then Burns Senior went to work for the State Highway Department for another 15 years while his sons opened a local taxicab operation.

# 80 Foster House:  Originally built 1863 by Andrew W. Foster, a Swedish immigrant, it was his home but also had his tailor shop and ice cream and candy shop on the ground floor; the second floor was a large hall used for dances, public meetings, other special events.  It was destroyed by fire Monday, June 25th, 1973... A more detailed History of the Foster House may be found under "Hotels".  A two-story brick restaurant and office building, # 100, has replaced it; it houses Butera's Restaurant and, until recently, Folk's Insurance Group.

 

 

Burns and Foster House undated photos, Grooming photo dated 1972, all from collection of Sayville Library

 

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South Main Street

 

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# 101, Robert  R. Holmes, Blacksmith: Robert Holmes, an Englishman, established his blacksmith/horseshoeing business on North Main in 1869.  His son, Robert  R., who had had a similar  operation in Central Islip since 1888, came over about 1894 to form a partnership and they erected what became the H.L. Terry Building on South Main.  In 1899, Holmes Senior was first.elected Islip Town Commisioner of Highways.  The partnership was dissolved in October 1901 and Robert R. Holmes continued alone, expanding to auto, carriage and wagon painting, until Terry outbid him for his father's property and bought it property in 1907. Robert R. moved his business east to new  new premises at about 195 (about where Foster Avenue Extension was cut through later).

 

# 101, H.L. Terry's:  Herbert Lewis Terry opened a jewelry store in Columbia Hall Block on South Main Street about 1889.  In April 1907 he bought the foreclosed property and building of Robert Holmes, blacksmith, next door at 105 which he enlarged and opened  in January 1908.  Downstairs in the new section in front was his jewelry, camera and phonograph store and in the rear a large bicycle shop.  Upstairs there was the large (30' by 40 ') Guild Hall where dances and entertainments were held and several offices.  In September 1922, Terry bought the James Wood properties and moved to Main Street.

George H. Giroux, who had run the bicycle shop since 1913, acquired that along with the building. John P. Steigerwald ("Bicycle John") joined Giroux upon his return from WWI and bought the business from him in 1928; later he moved it to Railroad Avenue.  The Congregational Church purchased the premises in September 1947 and the building was demolished for addition of a church school.

 

 # 154, Robinson House: Originally the Lawrence Edwards house in Bayport, built around 1765, the house was purchased by William F. Hibbard who in turn sold it to Dr. James Rice. In  1867, he had the house moved to Sayville, a trip of some eight days. It was then purchased by Dr. George Robinson who occupied it until he died in 1908. Since then it has had multiple uses. In the late 1950s, Ben and Inez Wilcox had

their American Eagle Antiques here. Islip Town was considering moving it to The Grange when it burned down on Christmas night, 1975.  Dentist Philip Peters bought the property in 1985 and built a one-story medical building.

 

Robert Holmes photo from George W. Richardson, New York, 1911; Terry Building  from The Suffolk County News/Francis Giroux Gottwald; Robinson House from private collection

 

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South Main Street & Beyond on Middle  Road

 

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# 195, Gordon & Gordon:   Herman and Hillard Gordon opened their service station in May 1927.  In February 1937, they constructed a new 30 foot by 70 foot garage  which offered not only up-to-date repair equipment but also an indoor "auto laundry" as well as display space for the Dodge,  Plymouth and Nash cars for which they were agents. In January 1938 Herman bought the Village Service Station at Main Street and Railroad Avenue from Charles Rohm and two years later sold it to Charles Duryea. In May 1938 he also opened a new garage on
Montauk Highway in Bayport where his primary interest was selling used cars. In 1940, Hillard left the original business to move to Massachusetts and Herman re-christened it Modern Auto Service.  After he drowned in Brown's River in 1949, his wife took over the garage.  In August

1951, she married Charles Norman and they continued Modern Auto Service. It continues as a service station and garage.

 

# 199, Sayville Inn:   The original Inn with its original bar is now behind the street side building and is used primarily for private parties; it was built about 1888 by James Nohowec and his sons, Milton and John carried on, building the larger structure known as Nohowec's Tavern in October 1937.  In April 1957, the Nohowecs sold it to Benjamin Czerepenski who, in 1986, sold it to Pamela Raymond and Richard Stafford.  During prohibition it had been a speakeasy and during WW II a gathering place for Central Europeans.

 

At Brown's River, Nick's Clam Bar:  Originally established by Nick Munson, it was actually on a small barge tied up on the western side of the River just below Bryan's Bridge.  Many youngsters helped him shuck clams and clean fish because he paid a very good wage, 35 cents an hour. In 1946, Munson sold his business to Fred and Nancy Behr.  Despite the fact that it was often underwater in big storms, it was still afloat in 1960.

 

Gordon photo from The Suffolk County News; Sayville Inn photo from Sayville Inn;

Undated Nick's postcard from collection of Tony Brinkmann

 

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