East Hampton Historical Society’s Newsletter / March 2018


MARCH 2018

Spring has sprung at the East Hampton Historical Society!


     The East Hampton Historical Society is gearing up for a great 2018 season. We are busy planning programs, exhibitions, and parties for visitors, members and the entire community.
     This summer’s exhibitions include: “RSVP: 200 Years of Parties and Picnics in East Hampton”, at the Clinton Academy from June 24th through August 11th and “The Artist & The Fisherman: Highlights from the Collection”, at the East Hampton Marine Museum from April 30th through Columbus Day.
The Society welcomes new Executive Director
     The East Hampton Historical Society is proud to welcome a new Executive Director, Maria Vann. Maria was the former Director of the Maritime Museum at Battleship Cove and the Iroquois Indian Museum. Prior to that, she worked in museum education for institutions including: the Fenimore Art Museum, the Albany Institute of History & Art, and the New York State Historical Association. Maria has also served as an adjunct history professor at SUNY College at Oneonta. Vann’s impressive background includes capital projects fundraising, partnership building, successful grant writing, innovative program development, and staff and volunteer management.
      Vann who originally hails from Long Island is “excited to use her professional training and experience to lead the East Hampton Historical Society into its next phase of growth. The Society’s excellent reputation and solid foundation is poised for greater local visitor engagement. I am eager to get to know the community, work with the Board, and explore partnerships and collaborations”.
Treasures from the Bank Vault
Presented by Richard Barons
at the Historical Society Annual Meeting
Saturday, April 14 at 10:00am
Clinton Academy 
Nature and Nostalgia
in the Art of Mary Nimmo Moran (1842-1899)
Presented by Shannon Vittoria
Saturday, April 21 at 1:30pm
Clinton Academy
     This is a Landmarks Committee of the LVIS event for the community. Shannon Vittoria, art historian at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will share her extensive knowledge of Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran and the often, untold story of what enabled a late 19th century wife and mother to become a prominent member of the art world. Weather permitting, the Moran House will be open for attendees after the talk. The program is free but space is limited. Please call the LVIS at (631)324-1220 ext. 2 or email info2@lvis.org for a reservation.


     You are invited to celebrate the grand opening of this National Historic Landmark after 5 years of careful restoration. The Studio, described as a quirky Queen Anne style-studio cottage, built in 1884, marked the beginning of East Hampton as an artist’s colony.
     The Historical Society will open the Thomas & Mary Nimmo Moran’s Summer Art Studio with a week of special community programming July 2nd through 8th, including a gala party. We will be announcing the exciting details in the coming weeks! Please check our website for updates.
Summer Hours:
Thursday through Saturday tours at 10:00am and 1:00pm.
Fall Hours:
Fridays and Saturday tours at 10:00am and 1:00pm
     We are also preparing school programs which will be available beginning Fall 2018.
     We are excited to announce that the charming and enlightening East Hampton Marine Museum will be available to the local community during the upcoming school spring break.
     The museum will be open during the week of April 2nd through the 6th, and then weekends through Columbus Day.
     The hours of operation are 10:00am – 4:30pmand the entrance fees are as follows: $2 for students, $3 for seniors and $4 for other adults.
     We look forward to welcoming you to this wonderful place!
2018 Summer Camp
     We are delighted at the community response to our summer camp at the Marine Museum. We are almost filled to capacity and please contact education@easthamptonhistory.org for more information and to register for one of the few remaining spots below.
July 30 – August 3 Students 12-15 years old $655.00
August 6 -10 Students 6-8 years old $655.00
Object of the Month
     “Reward of $10,000 for Caruso Jewels” read the headline in the June 20, 1920 edition of the New York Times. Enrico Caruso, the world famous Italian operatic tenor, and his wife had rented the Georgica Pond estate known as “The Creeks” for the season and had fallen victim to a major robbery.
     The crime occurred on June 8th at 9:45pm and was announced when the alarm was tripped on the steel safe-box in Mrs. Caruso’s bedchamber. A loud siren sounded and the thieves clamored down the main stairs with the safe and vanished as they sped down the drive. The safe-box was found later by a staff member – empty.
     Newspapers across the country carried the story. The value of the stolen jewelry was a staggering one million dollars, and included diamond, pearl and emerald pieces. Mr. Caruso, who was in Cuba at the time, wired that he was happy there were no injuries. Interestingly, the were virtually no clues to work with. One detective felt that the safe-box had actually been taken earlier in the day by using a stolen key. He thought the men who there that night were part of a diversion and hired to confuse.
     Also hindering the police were the differing accounts given by the 10 servants. One claimed to have seen a man on a bike, and the butler, Frank Ferreri, seemed confused about when and where he had seen George Fitzgerald, the Caruso’s chauffeur. Mrs. Caruso’s maid, Endrichetti Ristori, collapsed when police questioned her. Also, there were rumors of Mafia involvement and letters from perspective kidnappers.
     As protection for his wife, Enrico Caruso had given his chauffeur a revolver prior to the burglary. Mr. Fitzgerald claimed to have fired three times at the escaping bandits. Needing an arrest, the police finally put Fitzgerald in jail for using an unregistered gun. Mr. Fitzgerald wired Mr. Caruso in Cuba, “Arrested for having gun you gave me. Madam refused to go my bail, Frtz.”
     The case’s hearing was held at Old Majestic Hall, and more than 200 people, some seated on the floor, enjoyed the spectacle. The highlight was when the safe-box was brought in. It was designed to emit a loud gong-like sound at the slightest touch, except if you knew the mystery of how to open it. Attorney Leroy M. Young, who was conducting the inquiry, set it off and the loud clanging was greeted with great approval by the spectators. Mr. Fitzgerald was subsequently released.
     Harry L. Toback was arrested on October 16, 1920 trying to sell a small portion of the Caruso jewels. He approached two women about buying $30,000 worth of diamonds, and claimed the stones had come from the Caruso heist. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Caruso jewelry was never recovered and the crime never solved. One last headline appeared when the insurance company settled with Mrs. Caruso in March 1921 – the same year Enrico Caruso died.
     We are pleased to have this photograph taken by George Grantham Bain and titled, “Enrico Caruso Fishing on Georgica Pond, July 22, 1920” in our collection.
     Field Trips and Educational Outreach
     We are currently booking programs with school groups for Spring 2018. Please contact education@easthamptonhistory.org for more information. Also, the Historical Society offers a variety of educational walks and hikes in East Hampton and surrounding parks and preserves. Please contact us to learn more.
     An example of our outreach with the local schools is our new Trailing Through History Program that we created at Cedar Beach County Park in 2017. The students will be walking 3 miles of trails through Long Pond Greenbelt while learning about its history and biodiversity. The Greenbelt is an ancient glacial trough with a string of coastal plain ponds stretching six miles from Ligonee Creek in Sag harbor through the oak forests and old field habitats of Bridgehampton and ending at Sagg Pond. The Greenbelt comprises 600 preserved acres and houses more endangered and rare species of plants and animals then any other location in New York State.
Life is Good
     The Historical Society participated in a special contest with the Life is Good Company.
     For the contest, students, aged 4-21, were asked to draw why “Life is Good” for a chance to see it reproduced on a t-shirt and help kids in need. Our Director of Education, Stacy Myers, coordinated the submissions for 110 local students. Each entry automatically generated $1 to be donated to children in need.
     In addition to having the winning image printed on a Life is Good t-shirt benefiting the Life is Good Kids Foundation, each student has the opportunity to win: a $2,000 scholarship, a suit of art supplies and a $100 LifeisGood.com gift card.
Our New Education Director
     We are very pleased to welcome Stacy Myers to our team as Director of Education. She joined in January and among other responsibilities she is creating exciting programming for adults and school children in our community.
     Stacy brings with her over 2 decades of experience working in education. For the past 20 years she worked with the Cornell Marine Program as part of the Cornell Extension Suffolk County. Her efforts included educational outreach to students from kindergarten through College in Suffolk County.
     Stacy has extensive experience teaching natural science, environmental studies, Long Island geology, marine biology, maritime history, water quality, biodiversity and coastal environments. In the last five years she has specialized in tailoring programs for local private and public schools that meet national science standards and Common Core curriculum. Some of the schools she has worked with have installed extensive outdoor learning laboratories as part of their programs. Still others have worked with Stacy to use local trails, preserves and historic buildings as their learning laboratories.
     Stacy truly believes that educational moments are all around us and we look forward to her bringing her enthusiasm to our programming. Stacy is thrilled to join the East Hampton Historical Society and to work collaboratively with the team to expand education efforts.





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