Photo of the Week
—– May 30, 2020 —–
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
John Aldrich, Celebrated Builder of ‘Costly Country Homes’
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Double Bays, Watercolor, by Bernard Springsteel. (From the Museum Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society. Image copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
In this lovely watercolor painting by Suffolk County artist Bernie Springsteel titled Double Bays, we see the artist’s rendition of the historic Aldrich house that stood on Main Road in Aquebogue. The home was demolished about five years ago, in the summer of 2015 (see news story here). In spite of the structure’s deterioration over the years, its never-fading beauty hinted to passersby that this nearly 145-year-old house was at one time a work of architectural wonder. That’s because it was built by local master carpenter John Elliot Aldrich in the early 1870s, a celebrated builder of “costly country homes.”
Aldrich was born in Riverhead on March 22, 1842. His name appears in the Civil War Draft Registration Records (1863-1865), where he reported his age as 21, his profession as “carpenter,” and his location as “Upper Aquebogue.” He married Frances Fournier of Southampton in 1867, and together they had four children. According to an 1890 article in the Long-Islander, Mr. Aldrich was “doing business on a large scale,” contracting “to build thirty-five houses of various kinds from Flushing to Sag Harbor.” Mr. Aldrich died in 1906 and is buried in the Aquebogue Cemetery, not far from where the magnificent Main Road home depicted here stood from the 1870s to 2015.
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