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Explore A History Of Three Cultures At Sylvester Manor

Ryan Lappe

All That Has Been: Our Roots Revealed debuts in June. (Photo: Porter Gifford/Sylvester Manor Educational Farm)

From Saturday, June 8 to Friday, June 28, Sylvester Manor is hosting a plethora of interesting events for the public. The Manor itself was once a Native American hunting and fishing ground and has been home to eleven generations of its original European settler family since 1652. Over time, the location has been transformed from a slave-holding provisioning plantation, an Enlightenment-era farm, a pioneering food industrialist's estate, and today it serves as an organic educational farm responsive to, and supported by, neighbors and friends worldwide. In light of this history, Sylvester Manor envisions a farm, a community, and a world where people celebrate food, arts, and inventiveness in the everyday, with a spirit of fairness and joy.

The excitement kicks off with the All That Has Been: Our Roots Revealed Exhibition Opening Reception on Saturday, June 8. The event itself will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. and will examine the three cultures that came together at the time of the establishment of Sylvester 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) via a selection of artifacts uncovered during the archaeological digs led by Dr. Stephen Mrozowski, Ph.D., a Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Andrew Fiske Memorial Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Sylvester Manor Educational Farm Board Member, who is attending the opening. Admission to the event is $50 per person.

"The exhibit features the artifacts uncovered during the years that archaeology teams from the University of Massachusetts Boston conducted field school excavations at Sylvester Manor finding close to a million artifacts," Donnamarie Barnes, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm Curator/Archivist, shared. "The artifacts include building materials, bricks and nails, personal adornment items, such as buttons, buckles and chains, pipes and ceramic shards, sewing needles, pins and thimbles. Also uncovered were Native American pottery, and stone implements. Artifacts will be displayed in the Manor house with enlarged photographs of a selection of the pieces hung on the walls."

The exhibition encompasses artifacts uncovered during the archaeological digs at the Manor. (Photo: Porter Gifford/Sylvester Manor Educational Farm)

Sylvester Manor will present "Native Wigwam Construction" from Saturday, June 1 through Friday, June 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the Manor grounds, a Native American wigwam structure will be constructed by David Bunn Martine, a Shinnecock Nation Tribal member and artist. 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. Admission is free.

Additionally, from Monday, June 17 through Friday, June 28 (on weekdays), there will be an "Archaeological Dig in the Garden" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dr. Mrozowski will lead a group of graduate students from the University of Massachusetts Boston on an additional archaeological dig in the garden area of Sylvester Manor to continue their findings on the grounds. Visitors are welcome and encouraged to observe the dig while it is in progress. Admission is free.

Exhibition tours are also available at various times throughout the year. All That Has Been: Our Roots Revealed will be on view at the Sylvester Manor house for two seasons, ending in November 2020.

"Having the artifacts return to the Manor this year as well as the beginning of a new dig and the construction of a Native Wigwam on the property, is a way for us to honor and explore our past, telling the stories of all the people of Sylvester Manor as we move forward," Barnes added. "Viewing the pieces makes imaging the early life here at Sylvester Manor and the existence of the inhabitants, Native American, European and Enslaved Africans come alive. This will be the most exciting season at Sylvester Manor we have ever had."

Sylvester Manor is located at 80 North Ferry Road in Shelter Island, NY. For more information about the Manor or the events, visit www.sylvestermanor.org.

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