Quogue, NY – It was a happy holiday event as guests and Quogue residents participated in a special Holiday House Tour which included Quogue houses festively decorated for the holidays. The tour was followed in the evening by a cocktail reception from 6 to 8pm, at one of the residences on December 12, 2015.
I was happy to speak to Benefit Co-chairs Melissa Cook and Maureen Leness about the Holiday House Tour Event and the history of Quogue.
Cognac Wellerlane interviews Melissa Cook, Maureen Leness and Quogue Historical Society President, Chester Murray at the Quogue Historical House Tour Cocktail Reception on December 12, 2015.
Cognac: Welcome back darlings I am Cognac Wellerlane and we are here at the fabulous event tonight. It’s all about the Holiday House Tours that were presented by the Quogue Historical Society, and I am talking to the two co-chairs that coordinated this event for the Quogue Historical Society, Melissa and Maureen. They are going to talk about how spectacular this event really is and this beautiful cocktail party at this wonderful home. Introduce yourselves ladies.
Melissa: I am Melissa Cook.
Maureen: And I am Maureen Leness.
Melissa: We are both board members as well as co-chairs of the house tour.
Cognac Wellerlane chatting with Melissa Cook and Maureen Leness.
Explain to my audience what this event is about, the Holiday House Tours, how many houses were involved and how you picked each house to be in the house tour?
Melissa: We have five houses and one of the houses is the venue for the cocktail party.
Which I might add I think is my favorite house. Right now I think Bing Crosby is going to be singing right at that piano.
Maureen: It is an early 1900’s….It was a farmhouse. I am sure Jeff told you about everything. They have restored it and it’s absolutely fabulous. This is the fourth house tour that Melissa and I have co-chaired, if you can believe it. She reminded me this week that it is our fourth and we have five houses and a cocktail party and everybody really loves it.
Melissa: It has been great. In fact the first two were back to back. We did it one year and then we skipped a year and people asked us why we weren’t doing the house tour. So we do it every other year now. It just takes a lot of time and effort.
I can imagine. What determines to have a house on a tour like this? How do you pick a house? Because there are so many beautiful houses here in Quogue.
Maureen: They have to be a unique property and look beautifully decorated.
Melissa: Also, It has to be available. This is somewhat of a seasonal community so some of the houses may not be available for the holiday season. The owners go away or they don’t open up their houses in the winter time. Some of it is just luck. Some of it is just a board member talking to somebody and somebody talking to them. We already have three houses lined up for two years from now.
Oh my goodness.
Melissa: Once people start realizing how wonderful it is they want to be involved.
There is a house that my Husband and I saw, I forget what road it was on I think it was Quogue Road…
Maureen: Quogue Street
Melissa: Quogue Street
There is a big spectacular Victorian home. That house looks amazing.
Maureen: There are a lot of those houses and interestingly enough we are just about ready to create a historical district in Quogue. A lot of those houses will be part of the historic district. We are spread out a little bit. Quogue goes back to 1659.
About four hundred years old.
Melissa: Almost four hundred years old. People that owned cattle use to bring their cattle over from Southampton and bring it to Quogue because we have these great salt marshes here and that is why we have such a wide avenue of Quogue Street, because it had to take care of these huge herds of animals… so it has an interesting history.
What made you decide to live in this community? Were you born here? When did you take residency here?
Melissa: 2002, We are newcomers. We are very much newcomers here. There are people in the community who go back generations.
Maureen: My husband’s family goes back generations. His family came in the early 1940’s and so that’s the reason why we are in Quogue. Getting back to the house tour what I find so fabulous is how involved the homeowners get, how enthusiastic and cooperative they are. I mean when you see what these people did here it’s amazing.
This by far is probably…between this and the Tudor house this is like my favorite house. It’s just so beautiful.
Maureen: Did you take pictures?
Yes, I did. I took many pictures and I will continue when the party gets underway. I will take some more pictures of people celebrating the holiday season. I am very happy to be here at this event for the Quogue Historical Society and to promote it. I want people in Long Island to know how special each village is and each history of each village….that is so important. Don’t you agree?
Melissa: Yes I do and another thing that is interesting about our house tour is it was instantaneously a new tradition. People look forward to it and it is going to continue on. We have lots of houses. Some of the houses are not necessarily historic but they are as Maureen said “Interesting in their own way.” I think a lot of that is what the homeowners have done to their houses. They start out one way…there is an addition…then there is another addition and they just keep growing in this organic way until you have a very unique building.
And we want to preserve that. It is so important
Melissa: We absolutely want to preserve that. One of the things the Society likes to talk about is instead of tearing down an old house work with that house. You can bring the inside up to the 21st century in terms of your kitchens…
You are right but make sure you keep the integrity of the house.
Melissa: We are very committed to trying to educate the community about doing that.
You are doing a marvelous job ladies and I am really happy to be here and I think this house is just spectacular.
Maureen: We are happy for you to have the opportunity to see it too.
Cognac with Quogue Historical Society President, Chester Murray.
During the end of the interview Co-chair Melissa Cook stated, “This historic district has taken a lot of time and effort and it is one of our biggest accomplishments. It is not exactly signed on the dotted line but the state has. We are giving it a couple more months. I think there is about a hundred houses in it. That I think is something that is a real achievement for the Historical Society. About five years ago we were able to open up what is called the Pond House that you visited today. It is an old building where we have a place to put our collections and we opened up the lower level last summer. We have a lot of artifacts and we want to keep rotating them so people can see them. This building has been fantastic for us. The Quogue Historical Society was founded back in 1947 as part of the Quogue Library. We have started to do a lot more charity events then we use to do. We are making a lot more efforts to expand our reach in the community.”
The Society believes that the preservation and enhancement of Quogue’s historic resources are central to maintaining the unique character and gracious charm of the Village.
The Society is committed to furthering this preservation ethic through such efforts as educational outreach; documentation of Quogue’s 18th, 19th, and early 20th century buildings and sites; and the recognition of historic structures that reflect Quogue’s rare and precious architectural past.
The majority of the Society’s total annual operating budget comes from Member donations.
Your contribution directly supports educational programs, collections care and research, and our work to further historic preservation. It’s really true, they couldn’t do it without you.
To learn more about how you can support, participate, and contribute please visit the Quogue Historical Society.