Spy Trails and Memorials – right here at home

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…

Huntington Historical Society’s popular historic walking tour and pub crawl of Huntington Village.

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.

Huntington Village cemetarySoldiers and sailors memorialHuntington village memorialhuntington village memorial

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.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building
Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building

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.

Huntington Village Tour

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.

cannon in Huntington Village

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.

Finnegan's mural
Finnegan’s mural

Finnegan's mural

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.

Spy trails on Long Island New York


24 Responses

  1. This sounds like such a fun tour!! I absolutely love learning about history and the stories behind certain murals, buildings, or places!! How amazing to see a grave from the 1700’s too. I’m so glad it was a fun tour. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. sometimes we forget that on our own doorstep is mystery like this…and you discovered it. The idea of adding the pubs makes it more entertaining, as we don’t always want to just hear a story – and taking some breaks brings out even more sometimes, among the people who walking with you…

    1. Yes – it was a lot of fun to hear the stories and talk to other people on the tour. So much history around us all, if we just take a moment to listen.

  3. I really need to do more local travel within the United States. I am sure my boys would love it! My three year-old would probably name everyone in the mural.

  4. This looks like such an interesting walk! I would absolutely love to spend a day doing this!

  5. Interesting insight! We have so many tours like this in the U.K. that I wouldn’t have thought to search them out elsewhere. However this looks like fun and definitely something to note down for our next visit.

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Runaway Widow
Join me, Kristin, on my journey to adjust to the sudden death of my husband and learn to live as a young, middle-aged, remarried widow.

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