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Patchogue: Past and Present

01/13/2022
Patchogue Welcome Sign

Kate Nalepinski L.I. HOME

It’s fair to say one of Long Island’s most popular downtown destinations for dining and nightlife is Patchogue Village, where bars, clubs and eateries have expanded greatly in both quantity and quality over the past decade. Or course, hospitality is nothing new to Patchogue, which once served as a thriving hotel hub and has nurtured a rich history that dates back to the 1700s and continues to evolve today.

•In 1756, Humphrey Avery purchased what is now Blue Point and Patchogue from the Winthrop family for 2,600 pounds, or roughly $858,335 in today’s dollars. According toThe Patchogue Story by Frank J. Mooney, Avery decided to sell his land in a lottery. The property was divided into 36 plots and about 8,000 lottery tickets were printed for sale. One of the winners was Captain Thomas Clarke, the grandfather of Clement Clarke Moore, who penned “T’was the Night Before Christmas.” Mooney writes, “Captain Clarke’s prize was an area that covered 50% of the most valuable real estate in the lottery—what is today Patchogue’s central business district.”

•Beginning as early as 1750, the Patchogue area began to flourish as a leading industrial center. Early settlers operated grist mills, sawmills and other mills that produced paper, wool, carpet, twine and lace. Guy DiLauro, historical society trustee, says many of the crafted materials were used to create Long Island’s Gold Coast mansions. Some of these ancient materials are currently on display in the Greater Patchogue Historical Society Museum, located on the bottom floor of the Patchogue-Medford Library’s Carnegie Library on West Main Street.

•Patchogue’s Blue Point Brewing Company, founded in 1998, created the world-famous Toasted Lager brew, which in 2006 won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup in the American-Style Amber Lager category.

•From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Patchogue’s hotel industry began to boom, says Linda DiLauro, vice president of the Greater Patchogue Historical Society. “Before the Hamptons were the Hamptons, it was Patchogue,” she says. “People came from all around to shop here, too.” Hotel rates reportedly went for $15 a week in Bay Avenue’s Clifton Hotel.

•David Kennedy, president of the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, says many Long Islanders don’t know of Patchogue’s connection to Fire Island. Patchogue offers ferry service to the Brookhaven Town–operated Davis Park and Watch Hill, both part of the Fire Island National Seashore. The ferries for both are within walking distance from the Patchogue Long Island Rail Road station at Division Street and S. Ocean Avenue. “[Watch Hill] is very serene, beautiful beach. It amazes me how many people are not aware that it’s there. Even on the busiest beach day of the summer, you’ll have yards and yards of room around you because it’s so large and so unknown,” Kennedy says. “I do feel it’s a true hidden gem that I wish people knew more about.”

•Various celebrities have called Patchogue “home,” including Billy Idol (as a toddler, for about two years) and rapper and hip hop icon Biz Markie, who lived on West Avenue. Markie, who died July 2021, was honored in 2021 in Patchogue with a parade and street-renaming ceremony.

•Patchogue Village is home to the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, which for more than 90 years has provided a stage for performances of all kinds. It originally opened as Ward & Glynne’s Theater in 1923, and at the time hosted Broadway productions, silent films, burlesque and vaudeville performances, and live music. Admission was 40 cents for adults and 20 cents for children. “As a kid, growing up in the Village, it was great,” says Gary Stephani, Greater Patchogue Historical Society trustee born in East Patchogue. “We had the movies, we had the 5- and 10-cent stores. It was a hot place growing up.”