The old hamlet of Stony Brook is about to get another helping of history.
A new museum, the Long Island Spy Museum, is slated to open within the next couple of months at 275 Christian Avenue, a property once owned by Ward Melville.
The museum's administration has spent the past two years applying for licenses and permits, achieving nonprofit status, and developing exhibits for the museum, which will cover national and international intelligence practices over the course of the nation's history.
"We put a lot of time into the exhibits," said Michael Gilbert, chief operating officer of the museum. "We thought historically this was a very good location because of the Washington spies."
The Washington spies – known as the Culper Spy Ring, which has its roots in the Three Village community – is the focus of a Three Village Historical Society exhibit at that organization's headquarters on Main Street in Setauket.
Gilbert said the Long Island Spy Museum's administration visited the TVHS exhibit, described it as "fabulous," and said the two organizations will likely have a mutually beneficial relationship. While the scope of the Long Island Spy Museum will include the Culper Spy Ring, it will also detail a history starting before the Washington spies' era stretching up to the Civil War, World War I and II, the Cold War and beyond.
"We think it would have great synergy" with the TVHS, Gilbert said.
One example of an exhibit is "spies in the cinema," which will cover James Bond and other films that have featured spies over the years.
"We understand that people enjoy that. It’s part of culture," Gilbert said. "It kind of mimics reality in some ways. It is part of the public lexicon."
The museum will feature a "Spy Bus," a school bus that can pick up students from their schools for field trips and thereby offset the cost of transportation to the museum from the schools. The museum will also coordinate a series of "Spy Symposiums" at the , the first one of which is set for Feb. 17, which Gilbert said falls under the museum's educational mandate.
The museum's chairman of the board is Michael J. Sulick, a 28-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and former director of the U.S. National Clandestine Service. The museum said in a statement that Sulick is "a wealth of knowledge in regards to the history of intelligence in America." Sulick will be the presenter at the Feb. 17 Spy Symposium.
The museum is leasing the 6,000-square-foot property on Christian Avenue – which is located relatively close to the Three Village Inn and Stony Brook Village Center – from the . Gilbert said the building is reported to be a former fire station; the next step is to renovate the inside.
"We hope it’s going to be a really interesting, interactive experience for the public," Gilbert said.