The Dr Daniel W Kissam House is a focal point for many of the Huntington Historical Society’s outreach and education activities. Aside from housing the Kissam family history in a room on the property and housing the Society’s costume collection in the attic, the wine tasting and annual meetings are held on the property and barn.
Its mostly red exterior with white trim along Park Avenue is home to a great deal of history, as well as a large yard, a period garden, and a barn where many events are held.
Dr Daniel W Kissam House at 434 Park Avenue, Huntington, New York has helped many a Huntington student learn what it would have been like to be alive and doing chores during Colonial times during its summer Passport to the Past programs, and the spring, which is coming up this year May 1.
Dr. Kissam built the house in 1795 at the site of a house built in 1663 that was burned down, probably by the British after leaving Huntington after the Revolutionary War.
Robert “Toby” Kissam, executive coordinator of the and a 10th-generation descendant of the home’s original owner, Dr. Daniel Kissam, said the house is painted white on the front and red on the sides, reflecting the pragmatism of early settlers. “White paint was more expensive than red paint, which was cheaper and made with local coloring ingredients,” Kissam said. “So they painted the front of the building, toward the road, with the more expensive paint and then painted the rest with red.”
House additions have occurred over time, with a “new” kitchen built in 1840 when the kitchen storage room was doubled in size. Despite having 14 children by two wives, the Kissams were thrifty and reused the original windows, woodwork, and rear door for the renovated kitchen.
Dr. Kissam lived in the house for many years with his wives, Elizabeth Treadwell and Phebe Oakley (he had seven children with each wife), and then with his son-in-law, Charles Sturgis, who married an older daughter who died, and then married Sarah Jane Kissam.
Sturgis turned the original kitchen into a formal dining room and added a “new” kitchen to the rear of the house in 1840. The Sturgis family lived in the house until 1857, Kissam said, after which it was owned by the Owen, Fuller, and Taylor families until it was purchased from Hilda Taylor in 1967 by the Huntington Historical Society.
A kitchen with modern conveniences had been added over the years, so the society restored it to its 1840s layout in 2006. The house has been restored to resemble what it would have looked like in the 1840s, Kissam said. A noteworthy feature is detailed woodwork in the second-floor bedroom, called the front bedroom parlor, where the wife entertained her friends. It is one of the few examples of molding from that time period that have survived on Long Island, according to Kissam.
Kissam said Taylor, the last owner of the house before the society purchased it, built a second-floor studio for her to use as a studio.
The room now houses the family history, timelines, photographs, and most recently the family Bible of Maria Louisa Kissam, whose grandson was William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the man who built the Eagle’s Nest house in Centerport, now a museum and planetarium.
The Dr Daniel W Kissam House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is open for tours by appointment, cost of $5 per person; tours also are given during events at the property. Group tours may be arranged with Cathi Horozwitz, the outreach coordinator.
In the barn behind the home, the summer camp program and special events are held, and the museum’s antiques and collectibles store and kitchen are located next to the barn. The museum store is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Consignment items are taken Tuesday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
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