BUSINESSES:  SAYVILLE - MAIN STREET TO THE TRACKS

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Fiala's

Well's Livery

Kubelle La Mode Shop

Carl H. Munkelwitz, 1920

Sayville Theater, 1935

New York Telephone

Garbarino Brothers, 1940

E.Bailey &Sons Lumberyard, 1928

Virginia Barrel Factory, 1946

 

Railroad Avenue

Fiala's Paint Store, 22-24 Railroad Avenue, 1935

# 22, Fiala's Paint Store:  New Yorker Joseph Fiala came to Lake Ronkonkoma with his family in 1913 and after several years managing the Indian Hill Hotel there, switched to painting and decorating.  He founded Suffolk County Decorating Company in the spring of 1924, working from his home, and incorporated it in September 1926 with Henry Remmer of West Sayville and Joseph Acker of Sayville as directors.  At times he was managing up to 50 men, such as when he redecorated the Sayville Opera House in December 1927.  In March 1928, he opened a retail paint and wallpaper store at 199 Railroad Avenue which he planned to run in conjunction with his decorating business. In February 1931, he purchased the building from Joseph Levy and in March 1932 he opened a branch store in Patchogue. Sewell Thornhill had bought the Terry property at the northwest corner of Railroad Avenue and Main Street in 1929. In April 1935 his estate turned the original Wilson J. Terry store (second oldest store in Sayville, built 1849) so that it was moved north and faced Railroad Avenue. (The following month, Charles Rohm opened a gas station on the abandoned site).  In January 1937, Joseph Fiala had already leased his new store at 22 in the moved building but before he occupied it, Amos Munsell built an addition 22 x 60 feet on to the south side, providing him with additional space. The Fiala/Tmay families operated the store until the 1980s.  The Suffolk Citizen (1919-1943), Sayville's second weekly newspaper, re-located from the H.L. Terry jewelry building to the old Fiala store. The gas station on the corner, which Herman Gordon had named the Village Service Station, later became Fiala's "Paper Store" and about 1999 Pepperberry Patch, a gift shop.  In 2006, the Town approved an application for a small restaurant on the corner, the building was demolished and replaced by Five Points Cafe.  The Fiala Store is now the home of Dorothy's Fine Jewelry.

Photo from The Suffolk County News

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Wells Livery

Gus Treadwell, Stage Driver

# 53, Wells Livery:   The Wells Family was the oldest livery service in Sayville, John Wells having initiated the first stage service to carry mail and passengers between Sayville and the Lakeland  Station - then at Ocean Avenue west of present Ronkonkoma Station -  where trains began arriving in 1843. The Wells held a U.S. Mail contract for more than 40 years.  After the Montauk branch reached Sayville in 1868, they continued to carry mail back and forth between the local Post Office and the local station. John Wells died in April 1893 and his son, John S., born 1866, succeeded to his livery and stage business.  Gus Treadwell was a popular and well-known driver who served both of them.  He was a son of "Black Jim" Treadwell and his wife, perhaps the Town's first Black family, was born with a club foot, and served the Wells' for almost his entire life....John S. was appointed a Constable of Town of Islip at a young age, took interest in his work, and accomplished many notable arrests, particularly of a gang of horse thieves.  He progressed through the post of Deputy Sheriff and was elected to Sheriff from 1905 to 1907.  He noted that "the demands of our City patrons have called for large and well-equipped stables (which were on Smith Street). Vehicles of all kinds hired by the hour or day." By the time of his death in September 1934, he had also established an auto taxi service as an outgrowth of his livery service which his two sons took over.  In January 1961, Kenneth Stein bought an interest in the Wells Taxi business from Mrs. William Wells and later that year the Company was noting in its advertising that "Wells has been serving Sayville and vicinity since 1844".  The Wells home and barn were demolished in 1954 to make room for the new Bohack Shopping Center.

 

Photo and postcard from Collection of the Sayville Library

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Kubelle La Mode Shop and snowstorm, 1948

Kubelle Display Windows, 1947

# 76, Kubelle La Mode Shop:    In August 1927, Jordan A. Kubelle opened a ladies store at 209 Railroad Avenue in the northernmost store in the new Tidewater Land building. (A few months later, Fiala's moved into the southernmost.)  It was to provide ladies dressmaking, tailoring, and furs, similar services to those that he was already carrying out in New York City, plus a complete line of ladies apparel. Apparently, he closed the Sayville store and returned to New York and, in the same period, had a shop in Islip. In October 1930, he purchased the north corner lot at Railroad and Center Street to build a new store and family residence, which he moved into and opened in March 1931.  In December of 1934, the store name was amended to LaMode Shop as son Otto and Dorothy Kubelle assumed management.  The store closed in early 1955 and it has had several other retailers since.  The current tenant is the Sayville Antique and Design Center.

 

Photos from the collection of the Kubelle Family

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Blacksmith Shop, 1910

Central Garage, 1930

# 100, Carl H. Munkelwitz / Central Garage:  Fred Munkelwitz, German born 1846, arrived in New York around 1870 and opened his blacksmith shop in Sayville about three years later. In 1878 the first Sayville Hook & Ladder Company was organized and Fred, being a member and a wheelwright as well as next door neighbor to the Fire House,  built the first hand-drawn truck for the Fire Company. The truck carried hoses, a bell, and necessary equipment such as axes; on occasion it was also used as an ambulance.  As it was pulled to the fire, it was followed by a fireman beating a base drum to arouse townspeople, particularly at night. Fred died and his son, Carl H., succeeded him about 1891. At that time the business was growing and had expanded to include "boat work of all kinds attended to", even though the shop was a long way from the water.  Carl also had some notable side interests raising poultry, participating in events such as the National Poultry Show at Madison Square Garden and winning prizes (1920), and beekeeping.  He also sold poultry, eggs, and honey "for medicinal or table use". After some time spent at Pratt & Whitney learning tool making, Louis F. Munkelwitz joined his father in business about 1920.  In 1924, Munkelwitz became a Chevrolet Agency. In June 1927, they moved the blacksmith shop to the rear and built the 7,000 square foot brick and concrete Central Garage with showroom and garage fronting on Railroad Avenue. In 1928, they also became a Nash Dealer. Carl died June 9, 1934. Louis continued with the business until his death in 1964. For some years, Sayville Beer & Soda has occupied the premises.

 

Both photos from collection of Cynthia Peaton

 

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Sayville Theater, 1935

Sayville Theater, 1950

# 103, Sayville Theater:   The Opera House on Candee Avenue was the first local venue for motion pictures, beginning with The Red Spectre on September 20, 1907.  In September 1908, Charles W. Plumb introduced every Saturday night performances of Pathe French films, charging 10 cents for adults and five cents for accompanied children.  In 1910, Henry Kost built the Novelty Theater on Railroad Avenue, soon followed by the Crescent  Theater on Gillette Avenue, just south of Main Street (torn down in May 1937), and, seasonally, movies were also run at the Cedarshore Club starting in 1914.  In addition to movies (usually three nights and two matinees each week, never on Sunday), the Novelty was also available for special events.  The theater and two stores in the front of its bulding were destroyed by fire that began next door in the DeGraff Steam Laundry on August 28, 1918 and reconstruction was begun within three weeks.  At about the same time, it's name was changed to Sayville Theater. In May 1930 the Prudential Chain took over the theater and introduced specials, such as on Tuesday nights giving attendees a piece of china until they acquired their entire set.  In April, 1935, it was rebuilt in the stadium style and refurnished, increasing its capacity from about 500 to 750; a new marquee with a modernistic neon sign was added...In 1947, the Sayville Playhouse, converted from, first, a Country Club and then a live theater, was again converted to an "Art Movie House" and showed films until it burned down in 1959...In  March 1950, the  Prudential Chain built a brand new fireproof  structure with a capacity of 700 on the south side of the existing theater  and then demolished the old one  to create a parking lot stretching back to Smith Street.  By 1988, when it was acquired by John Fickling, it had been divided up into a multiplex with three screens. A lessee later added a fourth.

 

 1935 photo from collection of George E. Spruce;1950 photo source unidentified

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146 Railroad Avenue (2013)

# 146, New York Telephone Company:  New York Telephone was established in 1876 to rent telephone machines to users who then had to provide their own wiring to connect (e.g., to their factory and office so that they did not have to hire a private telegraph operator). The first New York/Chicago telephone line opened in 1892.  Three years later, a few isolated "hand crank" (necessary to crank, ringing a bell to attract operator) phones appeared in Sayville, serviced by the Patchogue office.  In 1898, Sayville's first central office was installed in Thornhill's drug store. The small switchboard had about 20 lines, mostly used by hotels, business and professional people.  In order to supply nighttime service, in September 1904, Telephone Central was moved to the Long Brothers Building, about 135 Railroad Avenue. The Long Brothers had built a two-story fruit and vegetable store on 40 acres in 1896; they farmed some of their own produce. Mrs. King, an expert chief operator, came from Brooklyn with her mother and father to live there; the mother and father were to help provide all-night service.  However, Thornhill's remained the principal pay station and two booths were installed there; in West Sayville there was one pay booth where locals who wished to use it paid $ 39 a year.  In the decade from 1915 to 1925, local lines increased from 292 to 738, resulting in construction of the building pictured above. New equipment here accommodated about 1,100 and the elimination of all remaining "hand crank" instruments. The regular staff included 12 operators, increased to 15 in the busy summer months. By 1960, the local staff had increased to 96 working at 25 switchboards or "positions" in the Sayville office. The Company deemed it time to switch from manual to an automatic dial system, utilizing as prefixes LT-9 for Sayville and HR-8 for Bayport to service the 8,000 phones in the local area. Another new building was constructed across the street at 145 and dial service came to town at 6 AM, April 2, 1961. On June 30, 2000, after several intermediate name changes, Verizon took over the local system.

Photo by Webb Morrison

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Garbarino Home & Store, 1936

 William Garbarino (2nd from left)

in his fruit and vegetable store, 1938

# 296, Garbarino Brothers:  Giuseppe (Joseph) and Madalena Garbarino came from Italy  before 1910. By 1926, their family already had six grocery locations on Long Island - Hollis,  Ridgewood, Jamaica, Woodhaven, Lynbrook and East Islip - all trading under the name of Garbarino Brothers.  As each store was established, Giuseppe and Madalena left that store to one of their eight children and moved on to the next one. They arrived in Sayville in the mid-1920s and built their home and store on land near the railroad that they had bought from the Fellows family. The first store was built on the south end of the lot. In 1931, they added a brick front.  In May 1934, they doubled the store size, building the north half addition adjacent to their home.  This last store was left to their youngest child, William.  Bill and wife Frances (and their three children who worked in the store) ran a full-service grocery, noted for its fancy fruits and fresh vegetables, for about 40 years. Bill and brother John, who managed the East Islip store, traveled to New York's Washington Market two or three times a week for the fruits and vegetables that they were known for.  In the mid-1960s, the business (not the building) was sold to Walter Rowland and operated as Rowland & Sons.  In the early 1970s, it passed to Joseph Rizzi and became Rizzi & Sons, continuing to remain a "grocery store".  In 1982, the store returned to the family. Bill's youngest son, Danny, ran the Pot Belly Deli, closing about 2000.

 

Photos from the William Garbarino Collection

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Greeley Avenue

E. Bailey Lumber Yard

on Greeley (photo to left) 

and Hardware Store at

116 Main Street,

February 1928 (above)

#138, E. Bailey & Sons Lumber Yard:  In 1870, Edwin Bailey, an Englishman from  Manchester, bought out the Smith Lumber business in Patchogue and expanded it to be the leading lumber company in the County with yards in Islip, Babylon and, in August 1902, in Sayville, where it acquired the Robert Nunns' saw mill and lumber yard on Greene Avenue adjacent to the Pearl House hotel. The mill was destroyed by fire in April 1906 but the yard remained intact. Bailey's  furnished building materials for the Vanderbilt mansion in Idlehour, the Bourne Mansion (now St. John's University) in Oakdale, and other more distant palatial residences as well as supplying most of the lumber for building Camp Upton during WWI. Initially, it brought raw lumber from Georgia and the Carolinas by coastal schooner (which it owned) to Fire Island Inlet where the schooner was lashed to a steam-driven paddle-wheel barge and brought across the Bay; at the local mill, it was dropped off in water for seasoning, then kiln dried, sawed and planed into plank lumber. In the early 1900s, railroad replaced this sea transport.  In 1908, Arthur F. Cambern, a long-time employee of Nunns and Bailey, left them to open his Sayville Lumber and Hardware Company at 116 Main Street in the removed Pearl House (see Main Street, Southside).  Eventually, Bailey bought him out and Cambern finally became chief of Bailey's Sayville operations. In 1926, Bailey moved its lumber yard to upper Greeley Avenue to take advantage of railroad sidings; in March 1934, it closed its store and consolidated it at the yard location. In October 1931, the Company had a shed in its old lumberyard off Green  to Troy Cooperage for use as a barrel factory and warehouse for storage of barrels  and containers for other industries. That building burned in March 1932; management was accused and acquitted of arson. Bailey's Patchogue Mill and operations closed on June 1, 1941.  However, Unit Structures continued to utilize the Sayville yard, with 120 men on three-shifts building laminated wood beams of enormous size out of North Carolina pine for truss construction; at the time with WWI, steel for building was impossible to obtain. However, it became apparent that the local climate was not conducive to producing laminated structures so, in late October 1944, Bailey's sold the Sayville yard to Frank Ripp of the Greiner Construction Company which constructed  store fronts and fixtures for Woolworth's 5 & 10 Cent stores.  They anticipated using 80 to 100 men in their normal operation.  The site, with a new building now the site of the Gospel Community Church.  

 

Photos: Yard courtesy of Jack Heinlein; Store  from collection of the Sayville Historical Society

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Inside factory, Clarence Sawyer heads barrel, 1946

Delivering barrels for Bluepoint Oysters

FMC/Virginia Barrel Factory, at Railroad Tracks:   Bayport Barrel was the first barrel company in this area, opening in April 1904; it burned in February 1918.  In October 1920, J. Frank Corey, previously manager of the defunct Bayport operation and now associated with Farmers Manufacturing Company (FMC) of Norfolk, Virginia, approached the Bluepoints Company with a proposal to establish a cooperage on their large houseboat, referred to as The Ark; this was acceptable for a brief period until activities were moved to VanPopering and DeGraff motor car body builders on Cherry Avenue at the railroad tracks. In July 1921, FMC bought from Patrick Mullins land southwest of the Sayville Freight House adjacent to a railroad spur for a 7,500 square foot factory which opened in September and began shipping to primarily oyster shippers but also chicken and duck farmers in the area.; Carey remained in control and the plant turned out 3,000 barrels a week. Although West Sayville and Sayville factories were merged in Sayville, the former was later re-activated as an auxiliary.   Corey died in September 1924 and his wife briefly supervised operations until relieved by William H. Stryker. In February 1927, FMC expanded and opened a new plant in Greenport. The West Sayville building was destroyed by fire December 23, 1933 but Sayville remained in business.  In September 1935, Virginia Barrel, an affiliate of Grief Brothers Packaging in Cleveland, leased land at VanPopering & DeGraff and began operations headed by Joseph Mussler, later picking up the adjacent Sayville plant. Simplisticly, barrel manufacturing involved giving the barrel its desired shape, using a windlass; putting the head on the barrel as it passes along the line, and then nailing down finishing touches. In the early morning of June 3, 1961 the Barrel Factory and its adjacent warehouse were totally destroyed by fire. (They appear in the preceding Bailey photo just below the tracks, divided by a wide field from the lumber yard.)  Arson was suspected; it was the 19th suspicious fire in town over six years but the first since January when the old Opera House had burned. By this time, industry was turning away from wooden barrels in favor of metal drums and the factory was not replaced. 

 

Left photo from Suffolk County News; right from Suffolk County News/Chuck Webber Collection

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