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Restoring Pieces of Local History

David Fortuna has helped multiple local organizations recreate historical fencing and maintain their properties.

In honor of National Good Neighbor Day on Sept. 28, we are refeaturing this profile of David Fortuna, a Three Village local who exemplifies the spirit of the occasion. It originally ran April 12.

It's perhaps a subtle detail, but an historic one, and it can be seen all around town: period-specific fences that lend even more authenticity to the historic places in Three Village.

David Fortuna has installed them at places such as the Stony Brook Grist Mill, Frank Melville Memorial Park, Stephen B. Matthews Preserve, the Jergensen Satterly House, Setauket Neighborhood House, East Setauket Pond Park, and more. His work replicates two- and three-rail colonial-style fences, which in those days was important because it kept farmers' animals from wandering away or kept them out of gardens.

"I’ve tried to research and recreate authentic colonial fencing," he said. "I feel honored that they’ve entrusted these properties to me. This is serious stuff they’re trying to protect."

Beyond the fencing work, Fortuna has also played a big role in the maintenance of many local properties. For instance, he treated a moss problem on the roof of the Thompson House; overhauled landscaping at the Stony Brook Village Center; and he "keeps an eye on things" at the Brewster House, Grist Mill, the building which houses the newly established Long Island Spy Museum, and more.

Fortuna's work for local organizations such as the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, the Three Village Historical Society, Three Village Community Trust, and others has not gone unnoticed.

"What this man has done for all of these area organizations ... is extraordinary," WMHO president Gloria Rocchio said. "He wants to give back to the community and in these times it’s an outstanding gift that all of us should recognize, and we at WMHO certainly do.”

Fortuna, 68, is a Setauket resident since 1977. He originally came to town as a certified tennis instructor, first settling in Port Jefferson in 1973. But in 1985, he decided to take his career in a different direction: he established Swan Cove Landscaping Inc. Over the years his business has enjoyed success, and he said these contributions to local organizations is his way of giving back to the community.

"I guess it just boils down to wanting to bring attention to the historical properties of the area," he said, "and this was just my way of trying to do that."

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