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Saturday, December 20, 2014
Forward to the past
Museum gives a taste of vintage RVC
By Jimin Kim
Jimin Kim/Herald
Marilyn Devlin and Frank Seipp showed off a servant’s tospy-turvy doll.

A nearly century-old radio plays today’s talk show.

The Phillips House Museum on Hempstead Avenue is a slice of life in 19th and 20th century America. To keep the rich history of Rockville Centre alive, the museum boasts a working 1920s radio among other Victorian antiques.

The house, originally on 191 North Village Avenue, was owned by Captain Samuel Phillips in 1882. After commanding his first ship at 21, Phillips became a civic leader in RVC. He purchased the land for the first high school on the South Shore, the original South Side High School, which became Village Hall.

By 1975, the house had become a rickety rooming house on the verge of demolishment for more parking spaces. The village physically lifted and relocated the house to 28 Hempstead Ave., where it stands today.

However, none of the pieces in the museum belonged to Phillips.

“There was very little of Captain Phillips’ presence when we got the house,” said Marilyn Devlin, archivist for the RVC Historical Society, which runs the museum. “There were none of his furnishings or anything like that.”

It’s believed that Phillips brought his possessions with him when he and his family moved to Oceanside in 1908.

Over in the kitchen was a collection of more than 200 vintage cooking utensils. One of them was a raisin seeder.

“Today they don’t even bother with them because you can only buy seedless raisins,” said Frank Seipp, president of the Historical Society.

Devlin opened what appeared to be a two-section mahogany closet. It was actually a 1920s refrigerator. Ice would be delivered and stored in the top compartment to keep the food fresh.

The adjacent room contained a parlor set designed in a Little Bo Peep theme complete with porcelain dolls. The chairs were composed of rosewood frame, which was bent using steam.

“Ikea doesn’t know this,” Seipp said.

Devlin walked over to the fireplace. The ornamental design on the top wooden panel was once masked with paint.

“It had so many coats of paint on it that when we had it stripped and redone, this appeared,” said Devlin, pointing at the decorations.

Upstairs was an exhibit commemorating the many sailors who settled in RVC.

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