Second Half of 1930: Opening Ceremonies

By Patricia and Edward Shillingburg

The Community House: This is how it appeared upon its completion in July 1930. Note the three French doors across the front and the Palladian window above. The architect was William La Fons of Southampton and the contractor was Francis A. Myers. Once it was completed it immediately became the center of all Island activities. All of the hotels were open only for a few months in the summer, and this was by far the largest space for year-round community gatherings.

Unless otherwise noted, the source for this material is the Suffolk Times.
    On Friday evening, July 11, the new Community House was inaugurated. “A short address of welcome was made by Miss Anna V. Behringer, and the speaker of the evening was Mr. Ralph G. Duvall. Other numbers on the program were vocal solos by Mrs. Walter King, and Miss Flora Jennings; Tap Dance by Miss Florence Coley, and a short concert by the Shelter Island Band. Chiarimonte's Orchestra donated the music for the dancing which followed the program. Miss Behringer in her speech of thanks in behalf of the Community Club, expressed the gratitude and appreciation of the club toward all who contributed to the program, all those who assisted in any way in the construction of the building, and everyone, who by word or deed had made the realization of the Club's dream possible. M. A. Duvall furnished a number of chairs for the occasion, and Mr. Frank White selected and arranged the chairs. A special vote of thanks was extended to Mrs. R. G. Duvall, who made a donation of $500 with which chairs and furnishings were purchased. A large crowd attended the opening of this new hall, and everyone expressed their admiration for the new hall. The commodious, airy building will be a great benefit to Shelter Island.”
    The plans for the building include a fully finished basement with a bowling alley, but throughout the period under study, although there are many activities taking place at the new Community House, bowling is not mentioned. Dorothy Bloom, who remembers the excitement about the building and attending many children’s parties there, believes that the basement was not finished and the bowling alley installed until well after WWII.
    On July 22, the Community Club held its regular weekly meeting, not in a member’s house, but this time in the Club Room at the Community House. We believe the Club Room was up the stairs and above the vestibule. “The room is reached by a stairway from the lobby and has a small kitchenette opening from it at one end. The main floor of the house is all in shape for use. Mr. Reeves recently completed and installed the ticket booth in the lobby. On the left hand side of the main entrance is a large cloakroom. On each side of the stage is a comfortable dressing room and the stage itself has been made a size to suit any ordinary play.”
    “The Community Club has just been given a handsome American flag by Mr. Joseph Mack, for use at the Community House. Another greatly appreciated gift came from Mr. Thomas Young and his helpers, Messrs. Filmore Griffing, Merton Byington, and Harold Jennings, in the row of lights that have been put along the front and sides of the veranda of the club house. Mr. Young gave the material and his men gave their time. These lights will fill a long-felt need.”
    The Community Club held its annual fair on Friday, August15 at the Community House. “There were cake, candy, flowers, fancy work, vegetables, etc., for sale.” That evening, instead of the originally planned dance, there was an Old Time Jamboree Minstrel Show by the boys of Quinipet Camp, given in the hall, for the benefit of the Community Building Fund. The show put over all the latest jokes and songs. The chorus numbered 45 voices. Miss Plympton's junior orchestra also played at the entertainment. Tickets were 50¢. This minstrel show was very well attended and enjoyed by everyone.”
     A novelty dance was held at the Community Club on Thursday evening, September 4. Halsey's Orchestra furnished the music, and Mrs. Emerson Mitchell was in charge of arrangements.    
    Frank White made the Community House a very useful gift when he fixed a leader and gutter at the northwest comer of the house so as to keep the rain off that side of the porch.
    The Community Club held a Pinochle Party on Thursday, October 2 at the new Community Hall.
    The Club held a supper Thursday evening, Oct. 16, at Mrs. Bowditch's. Tickets were 50¢. There would be no end to fundraising. “The committee in charge consisted of Miss Belle Bowditch, Mrs. C. Burke, Mrs. H. Reed, Miss Lillian Loper. The supper was attended and enjoyed by everyone present.
    The Community Club held a Hallowe'en Masquerade Dance at the new Community Hall, on Thursday evening, October 30. Chiarimonte's Orchestra furnished music for dancing. Prizes for costumes were awarded and several contests took place. Mrs. William McDermott was chairman of the committee consisting of Mrs. William Dickerson, Mrs. John Oliver and Mrs. Gardiner Dickerson.
    October 31: “A stairway has been completed by Contractor Reeve from the lobby to the basement of the Community House. William MacDonald and men are finishing the chimney.”
    Tuesday evening, Nov. 4, the Shelter Island Band and the Riverhead Band will give an hour's free concert at the Community House. The Club are discussing giving a play before New Year's. The Club members are jacks of all trades and ever ready to try some new thing. Cider being required for the Hallowe'en ball, the committee speedily learned to run a cider press. No so long ago one member shelled peas for supper while she coached a rehearsal of a play. Now the ladies are wondering whether they could qualify as furnace tenders and wood choppers.”
    “A Hallowe'en Masquerade Dance, opening the winter social activities on the Island, was held at the Community Hall, on Thursday evening, Oct. 30. This event, which was attended by over 150 people, and which was the first affair of its kind held by the Community Club at their new hall, was a very successful one, and created a friendly community attitude. The hall was nicely decorated under the supervision of Mrs. McDermott, and the Hallowe'en decorations were loaned to the Club for the occasion by Mrs. Strobel,  Forest Inn. The majority of those who attended the dance were in costume, and costumes were original and unique. After the grand march prizes were awarded to Miss Dorothy Dickens for funniest lady; Thomas Young funniest man; Misses Anna and Juliana Behringer, best dressed ladies, and William Robinson, best dressed man, by the judges, Mrs. F. A. Myers, Miss Burke, Austin Dawson and Donald Clark. The door prize was won by Charles Case. Dancing for remainder of the evening followed awarding of prizes. Chiarimonte's Orchestra furnished excellent music for dancing and everyone appreciated the orchestra's generous response to their request for more music, which was offered gratis. Refreshments-pie, hot dogs, coffee and cider, were sold by the committee. The cider was donated to the club by Mrs. M. B. Griffing. The committee, which consisted of Mrs. William McDermott, chairman; Mrs. William Dickerson, Mrs. Gardiner Dickerson and Mrs. John Oliver, deserves much credit for their efficiency and the huge success of the evening.”
    “The Holland Furnace Co.'s men were in town this week to finish putting in the heater at the Community House. Donations from Mrs. Kathryn Becker, Miss Martha Becker, William Becker, and Miss Cornelia Horsford, have been received toward the heater. Thomas Young and men have been wiring the basement. Last Thursday evening a Committee of the Community Club cleared up the basement floor and piled all the odd bits of wood near the heater. The Club has also been fortunate enough to receive donations of cord wood cut by volunteer workers at the Ram Island Estates woods, sawed by another volunteer and carted by a volunteer truck.”
    “On Tuesday evening, November 11, Peg O' My Heart was presented at the Shelter Island Community Hall before an audience of about 250 people. This great American comedy drama, which was presented by Gladys Mann and the Mattituck Blue Triangle Club, was enjoyed by everyone. The play, directed by Al Trahern, was under the management of Mrs. Gordon Cox, president of the Blue Triangle Club, assisted by Mrs. May C. Lupton, Mrs. May Wines and Mrs. Harold D. Hallock. The entertainment was in charge of Mrs. Thomas T. Young, who was assisted by Mrs. William McDermott, Mrs. F. A. Myers, Mrs. William Dickerson, Mrs. Burton Reed, Mrs. Emil Savard, Miss Lillian Maurey, Miss Belle Bowditch, Miss Anna C. Behringer, and Miss Helen Capon. Mrs. Emerson Mitchell, Philip Halsey and Walter S. Clark furnished music between the acts and for dancing which followed the play. It may be interesting to know that Laurette Taylor, who made Peg O' My Heart famous on Broadway a number of years ago, visited Shelter Island immediately after her return from Europe two years ago, and was a dinner guest of Miss Mary Wilborg and party of ‘The Dunes,’ Easthampton, at the Shelter Island House.”
    “The ever-increasing interest shown by the Shelter Island summer residents is a reward to the Community Club members for their efforts to make the Community Hall a success, and they wish to publicly express their appreciation for the contributions which have been received, and the support which is being given them. It was a pleasure to the club to see Miss Cornelia Horsford among those present on Tuesday evening. Generous donations toward the heater fund have been received from Mrs. J. F. Becker, Miss C. Horsford, Miss Martha Becker, and William U. Becker.” Charles A. Angell, at that time president of the Heights Association, also made a generous gift toward the heating system.
    A Thanksgiving Barn Dance was held at the Community Hall, on Thursday evening, November 27. Chiarimonte's Orchestra furnished the music for dancing.
    A Pinochle, Euchre, and Bridge Card Party for the benefit of Our Lady of the Isle was held at the Community Hall on Monday evening, December 1 at the Community Hall, which was donated for the use of the church for the evening. Mrs. William McDermott was chairman of the committee which very successfully arranged the party, and she was assisted by Miss Helen Capon.
    One of the most successful Bazaars in its history was held by the Dorcas Society of the Presbyternian Church, at the Community Hall, on Tuesday evening, December 9.
    The first basketball game of the Shelter Island Town team was played at the Community Hall on Wednesday, December 17. It was followed by a dance, with music furnished by Chiarimonte's Orchestra.
    The Chamber of Commerce held a Christmas party at the Community Hall on December 25, and it voted to hold all Chamber meetings there in the future. 
    A New Year’s Eve Dance, sponsored by the Community Club, was held at the new Community House on December 31, 1930.
    All the joy of completing a task that had taken nearly a decade was clouded by the ill winds of Depression that were sweeping the nation.  In addition to reporting the merry events on Shelter Island in the new Community House, the Suffolk Times was also reporting the hunger and fear of winter’s cold for so many of the North Fork’s citizens, many of whom were now unemployed. These were not good times.

1923 Community Cookbook