Stony Brook Village Center
Stony Brook Village Center is a privately maintained commercial center in Stony Brook, New York. The center was created by philanthropist Ward Melville as a "living Colonial Williamsburg" in the style of a traditional New England village with clapboard buildings. Several historical structures in the vicinity were moved into a crescent shape while additional structures were built to match. Completed in 1941, it is owned and operated by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, a privately operated nonprofit corporation
The Stony Brook Post Office, centerpiece of the main crescent of shops
|Location||Stony Brook, New York|
|Address||111 Main Street, Stony Brook, NY|
|Owner||Ward Melville Heritage Organization|
Beginning in 1939 with the creation of his Stony Brook Community Fund (later renamed as the Ward Melville Heritage Organization), Melville used his wealth to begin the transformation of the hamlet into his idea of an idyllic New England village, with white clapboard buildings and quaint stores. The focus has been in the previous center of commerce, which now consists of a village green and a crescent of stores embellished with stone walkways and seasonal gardening.
To accomplish the construction, Melville had many of the existing shops in the plot moved together into a crescent shape and modified their details for consistency, in a design model similar and often compared to that of Colonial Williamsburg. As a centerpiece to the crescent, Melville built the Stony Brook Post Office, decorated by a large eagle that flaps its wings to mark each hour. Construction was completed in 1941.
The center was conceived as a "living Williamsburg" and originally functioned as an active village center with such shops as a butcher, a baker, and a hardware shop. To the chagrin of many local residents and students, the original shops have since nearly all been replaced by boutique shops geared toward the affluent.
The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is a privately operated nonprofit corporation that was created as the Stony Brook Community Fund in 1939 with the task of operating the Stony Brook Village Center and various historic properties in its vicinity. The organization has been a center of local controversy for operating entirely without public input and for pushing long-term businesses out of the village center. A number of local residents believe that the corporation has failed in its original task of maintaining a living village, having since replaced it with a center that predominantly consists of high-end boutique shops and maintains almost no activity beyond the late afternoon.