Want to learn about Rockville Centre history? Start here.


Have you ever wondered when the village of Rockville Centre was founded? Or who its original inhabitants were? Or how it got its name? We have the answers!

We would like to introduce — or for many, we hope, reintroduce — the Rockville Centre Historical Society and the Phillips House Museum.

The Phillips House Museum is a classic yellow Victorian home with a wraparound porch at 28 Hempstead Ave., across the street from the St. Agnes school parking lot and just northeast of the Tudor apartments. You’ve probably passed the Phillips House a hundred times and weren’t even aware of its history. It was the family home of a former ship captain, Captain Phillips (not the captain that Tom Hanks played in the movie). He was from Maine, but came to Rockville Centre in the 1880s.

Rockville Centre was a small village in the mid-1800s when Robert Petit’s general store opened the first post office in town, and named it after a local preacher and mill owner, Mordecai “Rock” Smith. Rock owned and operated a mill on what is now Smith Pond. The Village of Rockville Centre was officially incorporated in 1893.

We’d love to have you visit the Phillips House and explore the history of our village. There is so much to appreciate, including old black and white photos and maps of the village showing the downtown as it existed a century ago, antique household items, period clothing and so much more. Our docents are here to answer your questions — like, was Hempstead Avenue once a river? Was there a reservoir where the John A. Anderson Recreation Center now stands?

One of the missions of the historical society’s board of directors is to keep the Phillips House operating. Even though the village helps to cover some of the expenses, we must still rely on events, donations and fundraisers to cover the remaining expenses on an annual basis.

Consider a visit. Explore the unique history of our village and the events that have made and shaped Rockville Centre into the wonderful community it is today. We’re hoping to keep that appreciation alive in the next generation of village residents.

The Phillips House Museum is open by appointment. Please contact us at (516) 670-5737, or at Admission is free. Small donations are appreciated. 

Please visit us at our website, Also, follow us on Instagram, @rvchistoricalsociety, and Facebook, at Rockville Centre Historical Society. We regularly post interesting historical photos and stories about Rockville Centre

If you’d like to donate to help keep the Phillips House running, and be added to on our mailing list, please email us.
We look forward to seeing you!

Jim Belling is a member of the board of trustees of the Phillips House Museum and the Rockville Centre Historical Society.