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What’s happening at Sylvester Manor

DONNAMARIE BARNES PHOTO | Sylvester Manor house.

There’s a lot going on at Sylvester Manor this summer including an archeological excavation, wigwam construction and a new exhibit.

Exhibit opening

Sylvester Manor hosted an exhibition reception Saturday, June 8, to celebrate the 2019-20 exhibition that examines the three cultures that came together at the time of the establishment of the Manor on Shelter Island in 1651 — The European businessmen who bought Shelter Island, the Indigenous Native American Manhansett Tribe who made the Island their home for a millennium and the enslaved Africans brought from the West Indies as the labor force. A selection of artifacts uncovered during the archaeological digs conducted by teams from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1998 through 2006 will be on display within the Manor house along with photographic print enlargements of artifact pieces hung on the walls.

The accompanying exhibit catalogue and tour narrative highlights the stories behind the artifacts and tell the early history of Shelter Island and the coming of the Sylvester family who have lived on the property for 11 generations. With documentation from wills, census and town records, the exhibit also tells the stories of the enslaved people listed on Nathaniel Sylvester’s and other descendant wills and inventories.

Exhibition tours

The exhibition will be on view at the Manor house until November 2020. Programs in support of the exhibition will include guided group tours led by docents of the grounds, wigwam structure, the historic manor house and the artifact exhibition.

Public guided tours for $25 will be held on Saturdays June 15, July 6, September 7, and September 28 from noon to 3 p.m.

Self-guided tours of the house exhibit and grounds will be available June 20 through 22 and July and August on Thursdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $10 per person. No reservation is necessary.

Private guided tours are available on weekdays through November 8 and reservations are required. A private tour for $150 for up to 5 people or $30 per person for groups of six or more are also available. The grounds and trails are open to the public seven days a week, May through October, from dawn to dusk at no cost.

Native wigwam construction

On the Manor grounds, a Native American wigwam structure will be constructed by David Bunn Martine, a Shinnecock Nation Tribal member and artist. Mr. Martine began the construction on June 1 and will continue through June 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The wigwam, a traditional domed saucer shaped dwelling, used historically by Long Island Native Americans, will be constructed out of collected reeds and wooden poles from the property. Manor House tours and programs will highlight the culture and traditions of the local native peoples.

“Ultimately, there will be an entire camp set up similar to what would have been a traditional set up for the local Shinnecock, Manhansset and Montaukett tribes,” said Tracy McCarthy, the Manor’s director of operations.

Archaeological dig in the garden

Archaeologist and Sylvester Manor Educational Farm Board Member, Dr. Stephen Mrozowski, returns to lead a group of graduate students from the University of Massachusetts Boston on an archaeological dig in the garden area of the Manor to continue their findings on the grounds. Visitors are welcome and encouraged to observe the dig while it is in progress and can visit the site on weekdays, from June 17 to 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

For more information visit sylvestermanor.org or call (631) 749-0626.