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New book on Shelter Island’s nine historic sites

COURTESY PHOTO |  The latest book by Patricia and Edward Shillingburg on Shelter Island’s histroic sites.
COURTESY PHOTO | The latest book by Patricia and Edward Shillingburg on Shelter Island’s histroic sites.

“This was really an accidental treasure trove,” Edward Shillingburg said about “Shelter Island’s Historic Places,” the just-published book he and his wife Patricia compiled.

The couple became interested in the Island’s historic places by researching the process Mashomack Preserve would have to go through to be registered with the New York State and the United States National Register of Historic Places.

Doing his homework, Mr. Shillingburg discovered there are nine places on Shelter Island already listed with both the state and federal historic registers. He gathered the information and presented it to Patricia, who quickly saw an opportunity to compile it for a book — pieces written by other historians about each of the honored sites.

They also included photographs — some taken by Islanders, but most shot by photographers commissioned by New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation.

“I was really stunned to see nine places” on Shelter Island listed with the state and federal registers, Mr. Shillingburg said.

When Ms. Shillingburg looked at the material her husband had uncovered, she quickly saw an opportunity to “sneak in” work she had done identifying areas of commonality among the sites.

The Island’s historic places are:
• The Shelter Island Windmill on Manwaring Road, one of nine structures that are grouped together as the Wind and Tide Mills of Long Island Thematic Group
• Union Chapel
• James Havens Homestead — headquarters of the Shelter Island Historical Society
• The Shelter Island Heights Historic District
• Manhanset Chapel
• Camp Quinipet
• Smith-Taylor Cabin on Taylor’s Island
• The Shelter Island Country Club at Goat Hill
• Sylvester Manor

One fact revealed in the book that many Islander’s might be unaware of, the Shillingbrugs said, is that the design of the golf course at Goat Hill was inspired by the Saint Andrew’s course in Scotland, according to Shelter Island Country Club Board President Ron Lucas, who wrote the section on the country club.

Sylvester Manor was added to the historical registers in 2015, and might not have made the cut had it not been for the many archeological digs on the grounds, Ms. Shillingburg said.

The Smith-Taylor Cabin could have been rejected had it not been for P.A.T. Hunt and a crew of dedicated volunteers who won approval from the Town Board to restore the cabin several years ago. Taylor’s Island had been given to the town by S. Gregory Taylor, but until the committee of volunteers stepped forward, the cost of restoring the building seemed too steep for town coffers. Between work carried out by the many volunteers and grant money they were able to secure, most of the restoration is now complete.

The couple have collaborated on a number of projects on Shelter Island’s history, including volumes on the Nicolls of Sachem’s Neck, letters written by members of the extended Dering family and most recently, to make their earlier volumes more palatable to some, two short books extracted from the Dering Letters.

Throughout much of their collaboration, Mr. Shillingburg has done the research while his wife concentrated on the writing.

“It’s been a serendipity kind of thing” Ms. Shillingburg said..

The book is available from the Shelter Island Historical Society or Amazon.com for $20 at both locations.