‘My focus was always to get more people involved, kids especially, because if they’re not interested in history, then the next generation is just going to forget about it.’
“I’ve been interested in history pretty much all my life. I was a docent during the bicentennial at the Old House and Schoolhouse. Then I got sidetracked with college and a career.
“Before I retired, I joined the Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society as a volunteer and became the curator and collections manager there. I was donating a family quilt. It was a significant item from the 1870s with their names and place names; they were kind of founders of Mattituck.
“When I went to donate it, the vice president took me through the Tuthill House, built in 1799 by Jesse Tuthill, and added on by his son Ira in 1841, their main museum. Because of my intense interest in history, I knew more about the items in the house than she did, and she invited me to be the curator because they had recently lost theirs and they needed someone.
“When I retired in 2020, I was able to give a lot more time to the society, and I really took to it. My focus was always to get more people involved, kids especially, because if they’re not interested in history, then the next generation is just going to forget about it.
“I was planning on not working but when this job came up to be executive director of Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Council. I applied for it and got it based in my experience with Mattituck. The council owns the Cutchogue Village Green. On the green is one of the oldest houses in the U.S. linked to the Revolutionary War.
“There are multiple buildings — an old schoolhouse from the 1800s, another home, a barn with agricultural equipment and a carriage house.
“One of the ways to promote the Cutchogue council is to tell the stories of the properties on the Village Green. I wanted to make them come to life, so I decided to dress in period clothes. My brother Rory MacNish is a professional photographer, so we did a photo shoot, and I picked a few out and shared them on Facebook.
“We’re a nonprofit, and COVID dealt a blow. Board members and volunteers fell to the wayside. I’m trying to make a comeback to tell everyone that we’re still here, and we’re still part of the community. And we’re using it to be more inclusive with the stories that we tell and connect more with the community.”
Interviewed by Rachel O’Brien – Morano