In my town of Huntington, New York numerous signs are posted that state George Washington slept here or this was part of the Washington Spy Trail. I had no idea what this all meant but was always a bit curious. I’ll head to Europe or Thailand and visit historical monuments and memorials, and here I have history at my back door, so it was time to learn a bit more.
Luckily I found a walking historical tour that was right up my alley…
For $20 I met up with a group of 20 people at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building on East Main Street. After browsing around some artifacts and photos in the building, our tour guide led us into the cemetery behind the building.
The oldest grave known is from 1712. 1200 names are recorded, but it is estimated that more than 8-10,000 bodies are buried on these grounds. During the Revolutionary War, the British destroyed the head and foot stones and used them to make ovens for their bread. They boasted that the bread often had the imprint of the tombstone.
After the war, an effort was made to replace the stones in the appropriate spots.
The tour continued with more anecdotal stories and highlights of some of the oldest buildings in Huntington Village. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building was built in 1892 to honor the 39 Huntington citizens who died during the Civil War. A statue of a union soldier stands proudly in front of the building. Rumor has it that all union soldier statues face south, and the confederate soldier statues face north. This statue faces west so it may just be a rumor.
The Old Town Hall and Fire Department were pointed out to us along with photos of what it looked like 100 years ago when they were built in Huntington.
Finally, we got to the first bar. Appetizers and drink specials were available and consumed by the group.
We learned that Pancho Villas used to be a hotel and that Teddy Roosevelt visited Huntington when he was president to celebrate the 250th anniversary in 1903, the same year that the federal government gifted Huntington the cannon in front of the memorial.
We continued our walk over to Finnegan’s bar, the oldest bar in Huntington Village.
Before entering, our guide talked to us about the mural painted outside, by a local artist Philip Jordan. He originally painted the mural in 1978. He took photos of the bartenders and regular patrons and included them in the mural. He even did a cameo of himself with the paint brush.
The tour continued with more photos and at least one more bar but some of us had to work in the morning so we called it a night.
I would recommend this tour to my local friends or find out what is going on with the historical society in your neighborhood. I love to learn something new and sometimes we all just need to get out there and do it.