1928 – 1929: Plans Drawn and Construction Begins

by Patricia and Edward Shillingburg


Architectural Sketch: In August 1928, solicitations for the building of the Community House were in full swing. The Community Club produced a four page booklet, 4 by 5 ½  inches which included a sketch of the building by architect William La Fons and floor plans. Both the sketch and floor plan appeared in the Suffolk Times on August 28 with no further explanation.

Unless otherwise noted, the source for this material is the Suffolk Times.
    1928 opened with a Community Club Pinochle Party in early January at Mrs. Benjamin Sherman’s home, which was well attended.
    The Club announced a number of fund-raising events in the upcoming months, and the community was asked to mark them on their calendars: On January 24, a Waffle Party at Mrs. Moses Griffing’s; on January 31, an afternoon “42” Party at Mrs. Stanley Thompson’s; on February 13, a Valentine Card Party at the Wayside Inn (now the Historical Society building known as Heartease); on February 29, a Leap Year Dance Party at the Forest Inn; on March 17 a St. Patrick’s Day Vaudeville in the High School Auditorium; on March 26, a Card Party at Mrs. Irving Clark’s; on April 14, a Minstrel (actually it took place on April 21); and on April 30, a Card Party at Mrs. Ella Bowditch’s. (It actually took place on May 23.). Tickets for most events were 50¢.
    All went off without a hitch and added significantly to the fund for the new Community House.
    Also in early June, Mrs. Bowditch hosted a Silver Tea Party, which brought in about $15.
    The Chamber of Commerce entertained the Island on the Fourth of July in the School Auditorium. The Community Club assisted them, probably with refreshments.
    On August 28, 1928, the Suffolk Times published a sketch and floor plan of the proposed new Community House by architect William La Fon of Southampton. The main floor consisted of a vestibule, an auditorium and a stage with dressing rooms on either side. The lower floor included a banquet hall and bowling alley.
    The major fund raising activity of the Club that year was a quilt that the ladies had made throughout the year. “The club is selling shares [and] will be shared off on Saturday, September 1 at the New Prospect.” (The New Prospect Hotel, which was built in 1872 as the Prospect House, was renamed the Poggaticut in 1921, and was renamed the New Prospect Hotel in 1923. It burned down in 1942. It was in the middle of what is now Prospect Park across Grand Avenue from the tennis courts.)
    1929 began with a Shelter Island Band Concert on January 16 at the High School Auditorium to benefit the Community House Fund.  “Mr. F. A. Myers, who was the announcer for the evening, explained the Community Club Drive for funds for the new Community House, the proposed plans of which were printed and distributed among the audience. The drive among the Shelter Island summer residents was very successful, due to their generosity and support of this undertaking, which is so greatly interesting to everyone connected with Shelter Island. Every woman on the Island is invited to become a member of the Community Club in order to make the house an entire community plan. Applications should be addressed to Miss L. Loper.
    “The Community Club wishes to extend its appreciation to the Band and every person who directly or indirectly helped to make the evening a success, and to the community whose constant support is making possible the completion of the club’s plans.”
    On Wednesday, February 20 at 3 pm, the Community Club gave an old-fashioned Barn Dance and Card Party at the Shelter Island House. Prizes were awarded by the best costumes. Tickets cost 50¢. The committee consisted of Mrs. Gardiner Dickerson, Mrs. William Dickerson, and Miss Lillian Fisher. It was “one of the best attended and most successful of the Community Club’s affairs of the season.”
    The following week, the Community Club held one of its frequent meetings, and later the Club’s dramatic committee staged a “side-splitting comedy, The Trials of a Wife.”
    The March 8 edition of the Suffolk Times listed those people who had contributed recently to the Community House Fund: Fred. W. Schnakenburg, J. G. Nelson, Adolf Kuttroff, Miss C. Horsford, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Crook, Miss Anne Nicholl, Mrs. Gertrude Barr, Mrs. George Burrell, Mrs. A. E. Foundain, Miss L. Wieners, Otto Kahn, Mrs. Myers, H. Baldwin, Harry Belknap, T. D. Green, H. E. Harrison, Mrs. P. McManus, Dr. and Mrs. Fred Prime, Sylvester Prime, A. T. Gibbs, S. Callora, Carl Pickhardt, and Mrs. George M. Boardman.
    On  April 2, the Community Club held the most extraordinary social event at Miss Lillian Loper’s home: A Poverty Party. “Rips, tears and old shoes were much in evidence. Mrs. William Dickerson was voted the most poverty-stricken person present and was awarded a ball of darning cotton.  The nail hunt was won by Mrs. Graham Reevs' who found the lucky nail. Mrs. Carrie Burke guessed the nearest to the correct weight of a bag of carpet rags and won two clothes pins. The evening was spent sewing rags for a rug for the club. Refreshments of poorman's pudding and poverty cake were served.”
    The house-to-house canvas for the Community House Building Fund was begun on April 1 and continued for two weeks.
    The Community Club gave a Bonnet Dance and Card Party at the Forest Inn, on Wednesday evening, April 3. Mrs. Gardiner Dickerson won the prize for the funniest bonnet. Music for dancing was furnished by the Shelter Island Orchestra. This event was well attended. (The Forest Inn was located on West Neck Road and burned down in 1954.)
    Mrs. Ella Bowditch gave a donation to the Community Club of one cake each week for a year. The cake would go each week to the highest bidder who could specify the type of cake desired.
    In early May, William La Fons, the architect, was on the Island to complete the specifications for the new Community House.
    Contributions were still being solicited and received.
    That year, Decoration Day became Memorial Day. There was a brief service at the Memorial Boulder, followed by a dressing of the grave of veterans in the Center, and then a parade to St. Mary’s Church to decorate the graves there.
    The Community Club held a bake sale in the Heights on June 7.
    The 1929 Summer Season on Shelter Island was extraordinarily gay. The 1920s had indeed roared, and 1929 was no exception.
    On July 15, the sealed bids for the construction of the proposed Community House were opened at a meeting of the Club at the home of its president, Mrs. Moses Griffing.  The bids were opened by the architect William La Fons. The contract for the construction of the building was awarded to Francis A. Myers of Shelter Island, who was the lowest bidder. (Mr. Myers was a very prominent contractor on the Island. Among other buildings including many houses, he built the ferry slip on Bridge Street, the Ram’s Head Inn and the Pridwin Hotel. He was the son of Emily French, proprietor of the Oxford House, and the grandfather of Emily Hallman.)
    In early August the Community Club held a sale of silk and cotton remnants at the Chequit Inn. “The remnants were in various lengths and colors and were in considerable demand.”
    The last weekend in August was devoted to the Community House Fund. On Wednesday, August 28, there was a dance at Forest Inn, courtesy of Mrs. Strobel, and on August 30, a concert at the New Prospect House with over 200 in attendance. Bernard Olshonsky, the Russian baritone, was the featured entertainment.
    The Community Club met every Tuesday evening to conduct business, but often shared a meal.
    September 29: “The Community Club have had donations of various articles for the Community House, among them a piano, some chairs, tapestry, curtains, a desk, an oil stove, a range, chandeliers, sewing machine, stain for the woodwork, and other articles. Any donations of articles useful for the Community House will be gladly received. Some have expressed willingness to help by giving of their time on the Community House job. Anyone wishing to do this will please make it known to the President, Mrs. Moses Griffing. The Community Club wishes to express their hearty thanks for those businessmen of Greenport who helped the Community House Benefit Concert, at the New Prospect Hotel, August 23rd, by purchasing tickets. Among those who showed their interest were: Lipman Bros., L. Jaeger & Son, S. B. Horton, F. Langton Corwin, R. J. Tappert, Warner's Bakery, W. Pliny Brigham, Krancher's Shoe Store, F. Claudio, L. I. Levinson, J. Loper, Dr. Heath, Harry Reeves, H. Sweet, Mills & Co., A. Brown, B. Van Popering, People's Bank, First National Bank, Elliott Young.”
    In early October Walter E. Clark dug the well for the Community House. It was to be located in the basement near the furnace room.
    October 25:  “The Community Club is meeting regularly every Tuesday evening with good attendance at each of the meetings. A business meeting of the club was held last week after the supper, which was served at the home of Mrs. E. Bowditch. Plans were made at this meeting to hold a series of plays, entertainments, card parties and suppers throughout the coming months for the benefit of the building fund. The first of these public entertainments will be given in the early part of November.
    “The project of building the Community Hall is underway, and interest is being manifested in the plans and progress made. It would be a great help if, now that the questions concerning the house are being discussed at the meetings, all the members would make a special effort to attend. The committee in charge of the supper at Mrs. Bowditch's consisted of Mrs. E. Bowditch, Miss B. Bowditch and Mrs. M. B. Griffing. “
    November 8: “The Community Club held a business meeting and a Hallowe'en party at the home of Mrs. Moses B. Griffing on Thursday evening, October 31. A large number of members attended the meeting. Several Hallowe'en games were played, and Mrs. A. Anderson won the Hallowe'en Cat Game prize. Refreshments were served after the games. The committee in charge of the entertainment was Mrs. Graham Reevs, chairman; and the Misses Helen Capon, Anna V. Behringer and Juliana Behringer.”
    “The Community Club gave a dance at the Forest Hall, on Saturday evening, November 9th, at 8 o'clock. The music was furnished by Mrs. E. Walthers, piano; Attillion Chiarimonte, saxophone; Roger Walthers, drums; and William Dickens, cornet. There was an elimination dance won by Miss Jones and Herbert Sherman, and a spot dance. The committee was composed of Miss Belle Bowditch, and Mrs. F. Reeves, assisted by Mrs. F. A. Myers and Miss Helen Capon.”
     The Community Club served a progressive supper on Wednesday evening, November 20th. The first course was served at the home of Mrs. E. Bowditch, the second at Mrs. Moses B. Griffing, and the third at the home of Mrs. Alice Clark. A card party followed.
    During Christmas week, the Community Club sponsored two plays put on by the Al Trahern Stock Company, both at the School Auditorium: Applesauce on December 25 and Laugh If Off on January 1, 1930.

1923 Community Cookbook