Patchogue is my adopted hometown. I was raised in Bohemia. But Small Rob is native born. So why not start our blog at home?
Rob’s mother left for the gym. I wasted no time packing the little guy up for our usual walk into town, lest he degenerate into a complete meltdown. I’ve come to look forward to our routine walks. On especially cold mornings, we duck into Roast for some tea. Other times, we simply stroll down to Main Street and loop back north.
Whatever the destination, Patchogue is pleasantly quiet and peaceful in the morning. And soon enough, so is little Rob. Oh sure, he screams when you put his winter bear suit on, and bellows when you plop him into the stroller seat. But very quickly, he calms himself and takes in the scenery as we head south.
Patchogue has seen a tremendous amount of growth over the last ten years. The village hasn’t looked this good in decades. Main Street is alive again and people are coming in droves to live in a beautiful downtown. And though the village has worked to preserve much of its past, some history has been lost to the wrecking ball. For example, the Sweezy’s building, built in 1879, was demolished to make way for the new apartments on the Four Corners. We are fortunate that a good deal has survived. Some, like the Carnegie Library, are obvious examples. But others require a closer look.
Small Rob and I rolled past Copper Beech Village. At first glance, we thought it was just another set of modern townhouses in Patchogue.
The homes sit in a perfect row along South Ocean Avenue, north of Gerard Street. Rob and I admired the sharp landscaping on the property, including a gorgeous weeping beech tree that sits on the corner. Most would think nothing of it.
Yet here lies small history.
In 1930, E. Agate Foster was elected mayor of Patchogue. Foster lived in a house on the corner of Gerard Street and South Ocean Avenue, which can be seen in this 1926-1947 map from the Sanborn Fire Insurance collections.
Prior to his election, Mayor Foster was instrumental in acquiring the village’s Andrew Carnegie Library in 1902. He is also remembered as the first village resident to own an automobile, which can be seen sitting in front of his home at 148 South Ocean Avenue.
In another photo, we are able to see a familiar-looking tree on the south side of the home, closest to the corner.
The drooping branches are unmistakable. This is the tree that survived the demolition of the mayor’s home and the uprooting of every other plant on the block. The noble tree was not only spared, but went on to give the entire housing development its namesake- Copper Beech Village. These trees are known for their beauty, but also their longevity. They can live up to 200 years.
At this point, I began to envy Small Rob in his comfortable bear suit. My fingers had grown numb from the biting cold. We resolved to walk east to the gym, where we were lucky to catch his mom in her car. We caught a ride home, leaving behind us the arctic freeze that griped Patchogue and the Mayor Foster’s beech.