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Old Landmark Being Demolished

Footnotes to Long Island History

Old Landmark Being Demolished

 

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


 

By Thomas R. Bayles

 

Another historic landmark being demolished in the way of progress, Pfeiffer's Store, which is going under the wreckers hammer, was built about 1735 by one of the Brewster brothers, a grandson of Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, first minister of the old town church in Setauket in 1665.  The floors of the old building have been removed first, exposing the large hand hewn beams supporting them, which apparently are going to be salvaged.

            This building was for many years a stage stop and overnight tavern for the stages that ran through the middle of the Island from New York to the east end villages before the railroad was opened to Greenport in 1844.  Alexander Hamilton, in his book “Gentleman's Progress”, published by the Institute of Early American History and Culture in 1948, describes his stop at “one Brewsters” in Middle Island, July 11 1744.  “After riding 10 miles through woods we arrived at 8:00 pm at one Brewster's where we put up for all night, and in this house we could get nothing either to eat or drink, so were obliged to go to bed fasting and supperless.  I was conducted upstairs to a large chamber.  The people in this house seemed to be quite savage and rude.”

            For about 150 years until 1957 this was a country general store, which supplied all the needs of the farmers living for miles around.  It was really a department store as it carried besides groceries, hardware, boots and shoes, clothing, dry goods, feed and grain.  At the old hitching rail in front of the store the farmers horses and wagons were tied, and they brought their butter and eggs to trade for groceries.

            This was the social center for the community and the men and boys gathered around the old pot-bellied stove in the rear of the store, where the fate of the nation was argued and the old checker board was kept in daily use.  Those who didn't get there during the day made it in the evening, as the store was kept open till 9:00.  The post office was located here from 1901 to 1964.

            Now the country store has given way to the supermarket and the property has been sold to the Shell Oil Company.

            The corner across the road has also been sold to the Mobil Oil Corp. for another gas station, which will make four gas stations withing 500 feet of the Middle Country road.  Just why the Town Board grants permits for so many gas stations which are not needed is a mystery.  “Time marches on and the old order changeth.”  Is it all for the better?

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