On View Now
“Spies’ Nest: Revelations of Maj. John André’s Activities in Oyster Bay”
November 12, 2016
This lecture and associated exhibit discuss two recently-discovered letters written in 1779 during Raynham Hall’s occupation by the British, from Maj. John André, Benedict Arnold’s chief intelligence contact among the British, to Gen. Henry Clinton, then stationed in East Hampton, providing proof for the first time of André’s stay in Oyster Bay.
“Christmas at Raynham Hall”
December 1, 2016 – January 5, 2017
Visit during the holiday season to see the house festooned with Victorian Christmas finery. Legend has it that the Townsends were the first family in Oyster Bay to have a Christmas tree, which they proudly displayed in the window of their home.
Free with regular museum admission.
“Slavery in the Townsend Homestead”
February 4, 2017
Over a decade of research has resulted in the identification of seventeen enslaved persons who, between the years 1755 and 1812, lived and labored in the house now known as Raynham Hall Museum.
There has yet to be discovered documentation to prove where the Townsends’ slaves resided, but smaller rooms and attics were typically used as quarters for slaves who were responsible for household tasks in northern states such as New York. This February, for the first time, an upstairs bedroom at Raynham Hall will be interpreted as slave quarters, acknowledging the lives and legacy of these occupants of the house, whose numbers far outnumbered those of the Townsends themselves, but whose existence, until now, has been invisible to the visiting public.
The opening of the exhibit on February 4th will include a presentation by Raynham Hall Historian Claire Bellerjeau, who will discuss details of the newly interpreted space. The talk will also share new discoveries, including the museum’s connection to Long Island’s earliest recorded manumission; a Townsend descendant’s fascinating recollection of an Oyster Bay man with both African American and Native American heritage, and a disturbing family connection to the brutal business of slave trading in Africa.
The exhibit will include historical documents that shed light on the lives of these residents, as well as other local Oyster Bay slaves who regularly visited the house to make purchases on behalf of their owners. While so much is unknown about the details of their everyday lives, their struggles, and whether they eventually gained their freedom, by making a place for them within the house, Raynham Hall Museum strives to inform the public and honor the lives of these members of our historic community whose stories have remained untold for too long.