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MY VISIT TO THE NORTH SHORE HISTORIC MUSEUM
By STEVE VILARDI 1/19/13
Thanks for the email and notice about the opening for the North Shore Historical Museum. I attended the pleasant event with an old friend.
The event was hosted by the North Shore Historical Museum and its President Brian Mercadante and other members of that group. Local dignitaries including Ralph Suozzi, the current Mayor of the City of Glen Cove attended. It might be noted that Brian Mercadante’s Uncle Luke was a Mayor of Glen Cove at one time, also a US Army Major in WWII, and the military governor in Luxembourg during reconstruction.
The North Shore Historical Museum is still in an early stage of assemblage. The building is registered as a New York State Registered Landmark built 1907-09 in a town that was originally formed in the 1680s before the American Revolution. Glen Cove Became a City in 1917. The brick exterior of the museum has a strong Dutch influence in the facade. The rear of the building was at one time a lake front. The front facade distantly resembles a canal townhouse in Amsterdam, Holland. Sometime in the Fifties the lakes and ponds were filled in for sake of community development. This historic city hall/court and jail building served at one time as a mini hospital, also a senior recreation center and police headquarters. It is nearly completed architecturally as a museum but at this time installations are minimal.
Upon entry to the museum there is a spacious high ceiling dark wood trimmed hall that was once the City of Glen Cove Court and has been restored as that. In this hall are currently some Civil war displays and some historic photos of the building as it was on January 19, 1909. The one item to be added at a future date is the low wood fence between the Judge and the court room. Remember that gate that was always swinging in the Perry Mason episodes? Well, Perry Mason was not filmed here, but the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie “North by Northwest” with Carry Grant, James Mason and Eva St Marie was partially filmed in that very courtroom. The beginning of that story evolves around Glen Cove and vicinity. John Belradino played the part of Glen Cove Police Sargent
Emile Klinger and Judge Anson B. Flynn were played by Alexander Lockwood whose acting credentials are surprisingly much longer than any of the above actors. Coincidentally Lockwood was in many Perry Mason episodes.
The former judges’ quarters and offices have been turned into an art gallery with a really magnificent display of a series of paintings done by George Gách 1909 – 1996. Gách was a Hungarian immigrant who settled in Glen Cove right after WWII.
The paintings are all expressionistic oils of the Glen Cove and Sea Cliff areas with a strong taste of Eastern European refinement and culture. I am sure Gách’s brushstrokes were influenced by the great Hungarian Portrait painter Philip Alexius de László. I personally would like to return to the museum to see those paintings again. The strong brush strokes, heavy impasto, rich color and a magnetic likeness to the area with a strong sense of realism put these paintings in a special class of their own. I can see why the family of George Gách still owns these precious artworks.
The second floor has a large room for future displays. Currently some early Glen Cove Maps are on display. The old lakes and ponds are clearly indicated on the scale illustrations.
For all the couch potatoes in this world there are a number of video displays in the museum with Glen Cove history on the headlines. I am not sure if the videos are on the web site, also.
Another treat for the children and adults, as well, is in the basement. The original jail cell is there and someone in the organization located the original heavy steel jail door in a local scrap yard. The owners of the yard never melted it down when it was removed years ago. The door has a small window to pass food and water into the room. There is much room in the basement for future development of display areas.
The museum is now officially open two days per week including Saturday 11 -2 and Wednesdays 2 – 6. Admission is $5.00. 516 801-1191