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Spying a New Attraction in Stony Brook Village

The Long Island Spy Museum is coming to town.

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.

Anne R January 19, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Sounds like a great project. Can't wait to attend the conference! Annie R
peter January 19, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Spies are the real heros! Patriots who serve their country in silence. P
jane January 19, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Great Article. What a welcome addition it will be for the Stony Brook area.
Andrew January 19, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Awsome idea for a museum ,never had any idea stony brook had such a rich spy history..should help tourism
Roy January 19, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I met Michael Sulick at the Veterans Day Memorial last year; a real gentleman. Best of luck!
Andrew January 19, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Finally a museum you can bring the kids to)
Chuck Sulick January 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Mike, Congrats on the new museum and thank you for your service to our country. As you know, I'll always be your biggest fan. The family is proud of you and Shirley. Cousin Chuck S.
Ellen Benedetto January 21, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I remember going to Setauket and Stony Brook each year when I pushed-in to a 4th grade class. The kids were always enthralled by the Revolutionary Spy aspect and also the Freedom Quilts. I think this is a great addition - we teachers are always looking for new "living history" things for the kids that they will enjoy as well as learn from.
Andrew January 23, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Great museum idea for schools and something to do with the children on the weekend never had a clue that the stony brook area was such a importent revolutionary war site.who was the chief of the spy group back then?
Christine Sampson (Editor) January 23, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Andrew, here's a helpful link to the Three Village Historical Society's comprehensive history of the Setauket spies, written by Beverly Tyler. http://www.threevillagehistoricalsociety.org/spyring.html
Andrew January 23, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Will do thanks.I love historical information sites that cover history and locations I can see everyday.really neat that former spies are involved Andrew
Three Village Historical Society January 23, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Thank you Christine for your "pitch" for the Three Village Historical Society's Spy Museum. It is a great resource for ages 7 and up. The tours of the exhibit are led by docents who have been given background training.
Andrew January 24, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Thanks Christine looking forward to visting the long island spy museum with my kids and learning about espionage thru history.
David L. February 02, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Great idea for a museum and should bring some much needed tourism to three village.

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