Friday, October 02, 2009

Loren Spots Irony

This is really ironic discovery in regard to historic Patchogue resident, Elizabeth Oakes-Smith. As I wrote in a previous post, Elizabeth Oakes-Smith and her husband, Seba Smith are buried in Lake View Cemetery about 200 yards away from where their home, The Willows, once stood in the 1860's. Now a YMCA is being built on or adjacent to that site. Originally I suggested that the couple would have been shocked to see how their property has changed, but now I think they might be happy about it.

Elizabeth Oakes-Smith wrote a very popular novel in the 1850's called The Newsboy, which I have not yet read, about slum conditions in New York City. It turns out that she was an advocate of the Young Men's Christian Association, attending their meetings and working with them to brainstorm ways to improve the lives of boys living in poverty in NYC. Oakes-Smith believed that their deplorable economic state forced these children into a life of crime. The Unitarian men who founded the YMCA awarded her with honorary membership on the board. Their early meetings were held in the upper part of a barn in the city. (I know, the idea of a barn in NYC is hard to imagine.) Think of the movie Gangs of New York with Leonardo DiCaprio.

This is a very interesting coincidence. This is even more of a reason to see if the new Patchogue Village YMCA will let me put some kind of plaque on on their property near Main street recognizing Seba and Elizabeth Oakes-Smith. How weird.

The Newsboy is considered a rare, out of print book. It is available through one publishing house that reprints rare books of historical value. You can buy it here.

--YMCA Headquarters in 1869
(Located at the Southwest corner Fourth Avenue and East 23rd Street New York, N.Y. 10011)

"The Young Men's Christian Association was organized in 1852 to help develop the social, spiritual, social and physical well-being of young men. A merchant philanthropist, William E. Dodge, Jr.; financier J. P. Morgan; and a young immigrant, Robert Ross McBurney, were among the founders. The YMCA headquarters, located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and East 23rd Street, was a four-story, French Second Empire-style building (with an inhabited mansard) designed by Renwick & Sands and opened in 1869. Included in the building were reception rooms, reading rooms, parlors and dressing rooms. There was a two-story, 1640-seat lecture room, as well as smaller lecture rooms, a 12,000 volume, triple-height library, gymnasium, bowling alleys, baths, a concert hall, artist studios, and a gallery. Louis Comfort Tiffany was an early tenant, renting his first studio in the building." -

The above picture of the YMCA NYC Headquarters, and information in quotes is copied from here.

To read more of my research on the life of Elizabeth Oakes-Smith and Seba Smith, click on the label that lists her name at the top of this post. If you know how I can go about getting some kind of plaque, and perhaps a tree planted on the site of the old Oakes-Smith estate, please send me a comment or email me. My email address is located through a link on the sidebar of this blog called "Contributors." Thanks for visiting and happy weekend.

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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