Kaitlyn Sage and Luke Farrell spent a year researching the speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt on July 4, 1903, in what was then an open field just north of the present day intersection of New York Avenue and Gerard Street in Huntington village. It was a massive undertaking, but the two recent Huntington High School graduates have been rewarded by the New York State Archives with a Certificate of Merit.
TR was on hand as the guest speaker at the 250th anniversary celebration of the town’s founding. The research conducted by Ms. Sage and Mr. Farrell spurred the installation of a historical marker at the site during a ceremony last September.
After the Huntington duo brought the fruits of their research and the issue of the lack of adequate commemoration of the historic event to the town’s attention, officials agreed that erection of a permanent historical marker recognizing President Roosevelt’s speech was in order.
The Huntington High School student government help fund the acquisition of the historical marker. Ms. Sage and Mr. Farrell were guided through their research by Joseph Leavy, Huntington UFSD’s chairman of humanities. The historical marker unveiling was attended by town and school district officials and Huntington Historical Society members.
“This New York State Archives honor is reflective of the extensive work these two alumni put in during their senior year at Huntington High School, toward extending all of our knowledge and pride in our Huntington community,” Mr. Leavy said. “A presidential visit and the initiation of our famed Huntington Historical Society all right here in our village.”
Mr. Farrell is now a Hofstra University freshman studying psychology in preparation for a career as a school counselor. Ms. Sage is pursuing a degree in animal science and she preps for a career as a veterinarian.
“The plaque was done in the new style that is similar to the washed-up whale plaque in the town, rather than the standard blue plaque to help truly commemorate the event that occurred,” said Mr. Farrell last September. “This will end up being a great lesson for those who wish to learn about our special history and how our small town played a big role in shaping our nation for years to come.”
Speakers at the unveiling event included Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky, Town Councilman Eugene Cook and Town Historian Robert Hughes along with Ms. Sage and Mr. Farrell.
Film actor Leer Leary was on hand at the unveiling dressed as Theodore Roosevelt. He animatedly read a short excerpt from President Roosevelt’s July 4, 1903 speech and later posed for photos with the Huntington students and presided over the unveiling of the historical marker.
Mr. Roosevelt arrived in Huntington on the presidential yacht, which sailed from his estate at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay. He was transported from the waterfront to the stage at the empty field where he spoke by horse drawn carriage.
The Library of Congress’ collection includes a nearly three minute silent film clip of Mr. Roosevelt on stage in Huntington and his departure by the same horse drawn carriage that ferried him to the site. To view the film visit this link: https://www.loc.gov/item/99407348
The town celebrated the 250th anniversary of its founding with a three-day celebration over the Fourth of July weekend in 1903. The speech by Teddy Roosevelt was the highlight of the event.