Oyster Bay spy’s home is locale for a big thank-you

Raynham Hall unveils new logo at reception


Raynham Hall Museum, in Oyster Bay, hosted a garden party on June 22 to honor those who have contributed to its capital campaign — and the generosity of the town. The museum also gave a nod to Solomon Townsend — the older brother of Robert, a member of George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring — by unveiling a new logo that features the elder Townsend’s image.

“I would like to thank the people that have been true friends to Raynham Hall,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, the museum’s executive director.

Around 100 people, including donors, members and friends, enjoyed an early evening of hors d’oeuvres and wine outside the museum house, surrounded by the Victorian gardens.

The new logo was crafted from a 1775 paper silhouette of Solomon Townsend from the museum’s collection. But instead of the traditional black and white style, the image of Townsend is white against a blue background. It reflects the changes that are being made at Raynham Hall, which is broadening its offerings.

In February, an upstairs bedroom, once slave quarters, was unveiled. The room, on the second floor of the house, acknowledges the lives and legacy of the many slaves that once lived at Raynham Hall. “The slave gallery opened thanks to the capital project,” said John Collins, the museum’s board president. “We were able to restore the interior servants’ rooms and the attic and grounds. But we still need several thousand dollars to complete all of the work that needs to be done here.”

Funds from the capital project will also be used to complete work on the Education Annex, which is planned for the building next door, at 30 W. Main St. Programs for children and adults will take place there, as well as exhibitions. The building will also provide much-needed office space and storage.

The capital project’s goal is to collect $1,735,500. Currently, it still needs $500,000. “It’s important to continue our work here, because historic preservation increases town pride and property values,” Clark said.

But June 22 was an evening to celebrate those who have already donated, to help move the plans for the museum forward.

“This reception has been long overdue for the town,” said Theresa Skvarla, the museum’s public relations director. “It has been our top donor, helping us to secure the Education Annex. The building cost a half a million.”

“Great leaders help us to make all things possible in our community,” Clark added.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino, Assemblyman Michael Montesano and Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino were there to celebrate Raynham Hall’s contributions to Oyster Bay. Assemblyman Charles Lavine sent a representative, who said that Lavine was dedicated to helping to further the work at the museum.

After being described by Saladino as someone who “put the hamlet of Oyster Bay on the map,” Marcellino spoke. “I am pleased to live in one of the prettiest towns in New York,” he said. “You have history unparalleled here. This building represents a historical beginning of this country.”

Montesano agreed. “Raynham Hall is a great asset to the Oyster Bay hamlet,” he said. “It brings history to life. I think it’s important for young people to have a place to go to, to see our origins.”

The former home of the Townsend family, one of the founding families of Oyster Bay, Raynham Hall is historically significant because it was the home of Robert Townsend, a spy for Washington and a member of the spy ring. He is credited with helping the Colonies win the Revolutionary War.