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The Charles Gillette House - history - 10/6/2009
Connie Currie

Today the Gillette House plays a prominent part in the life of the community. Just as Charles Gillette and his daughter, Ida did during their lifetimes.

Charles Gillette, born in Blue Point on January 12, 1827 bought and sailed the Neptune’s Bride a sea going vessel built in Port Jefferson. Captain Gillette made many coastal trips in the “Bride” as well as three to the Mediterranean Sea. He brought home many beautiful things. Some of these, the Captain gave to his wife for their beautiful home.

Captain Gillette played a part in the Civil War when his ship and that of his brother in law, Charles Liscum were purchased by the US government. The Neptune’s Bride as a blockade ship, and his brother in law, Charles Liscum‘s ship, the Charles F. Farland was bought to run supplies to Admiral Farragut’s fleet in the Mississippi River. As Captain Liscum was ill at the time, Captain Gillette was asked to command the Farland. He stayed with the ship, sailing up the Mississippi River, pushing flaming bales of hay away from the Bride. After the fall of New Orleans to the Union in 1862, Gillette invited Admiral Farragut to the John F. Farland, at which time he handed the Admiral his resignation.

Returning to Sayville, Captain Gillette had the Grand Central store where Montauk Highway (Main Street) and Middle Road meet, built. He also had a new house, the house we know as the Gillette house, built. The house we see today, was built in stages. The original house was erected sometime after 1862. In May of 1870, Captain Gillette was having a large 2 story addition to his house built by Terry & Crum. In September of 1916, Ida Gillette had commissioned architect, Harry R. Benjamin to draw up plans for a Colonial style house with porches. Nelson Strong was the builder. At the same time, Ida bought houses across the street from her house and had those houses moved, creating the park of today.

Interested in politics, the Captain, a Republican served as Sayville Postmaster and was elected Islip Town Supervisor for two terms. The Captain‘s letters appeared often in the Suffolk County commenting on the state of affairs in his home, Sayville.

Charles had married Phoebe Edwards, daughter of Reuben Edwards. Reuben Edwards home was to become the home of the Sayville library. The Captain and his wife had six children, three of them, Ida, Lucille and Charles Edward lived to adulthood. Captain Gillette died in 1906, his wife Phoebe in 1912. The family is interred in Union Cemetery.

Ida Gillette inherited from both her parents and her cousin, Margaret Brush who was the daughter of Jacob Smith and Elizabeth Edwards Smith. Both Margaret’s father and husband owned substantial amount of real estate in Sayville.

Ida a staunch Episcopalian, communicant of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church donated the property across from St. Ann’s Church to the Church Charity Foundation. An orphanage was built in memory of Margaret Brush’s only child, a son who died as a youngster. Ida also donated space for the Sayville Public Library. Not finished, Ida donated Gillette Park to the town, as well as the land upon which Sayville’s war memorial sits.

Ida died in 1936 willing the house to the Church Charity Foundation . It was to be used as a home for the aged. After much local opposition, the Church Charity Foundation turned the house over to the Town of Islip.

Connie Currie for the Sayville Historical Society

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