Franklin Square Historical Society receives $127K to support community initiatives


The Franklin Square Historical Society, a cultural corner stone of the community, recently received a $127,000 check from the Boost Nassau Small Business Loan Program to support its initiatives.

The historical society focuses on community education through its museum located in Rath Park, which came to fruition in 2019.

“I have the hope that it’s long lasting, appreciated by the students who will come, visit, and learn about the past generations of the past who have created the community,” said Pat Realmuto, chair of the board at Franklin Square Historical Society. “We want to remain a part of the educational future of the community.”

Realmuto said that students from first and fourth grade in the Franklin Square school district come to visit the museum on a field trip. Then, they come back with their families and teach their parents what they learned. This year, the Social Studies Honor Society from XXX also paid a visit.

Nancy Youngfert, president of the historical society, is concerned for the future of the museum. She believes it is crucial to get young students involved with the history of their hometown.


“Unless the kids come, the history dies,” she said.

But the kids are coming back — in greater numbers than before. The museum is growing, thanks to the check from the county, the historical society will be able to build a new classroom at the museum.

Currently, the museum is running out of storage space for all their artifacts. It is also difficult for the older members and curators to get up the stairs into the storage attic in a building with 12-foot high ceilings. With the funds from the county, they can start planning, designing and building a new space to fit more storage.

There’s a lot of history in Franklin Square. The first bank credit card was invented here. Walt Whitman served as a teacher in District 17 in 1840.

“We’re a community founded by immigrants,” Paul van Wie, village historian, said. “Most of the people who founded Franklin Square did not speak English when they got here. And that’s a really wonderful American story, don’t you think?”

One of those immigrant families was the Kalbs. Barbara Kalb, a seventh-generation resident of Franklin Square, is proud of all of the museum volunteers.

“If the members we now have did not work as hard as they do, it would not be as advanced as it is,” Kalb said.

On display at the anniversary dinner was a uniform from WWII worn by Bill Wydner from 1940-45. After serving his country, he came back and lived in Franklin Square again for the rest of his life. He was subsequently the president of the historical society for four years.

At the dinner, the historical society held raffles for 38 prizes, plus a few “super prizes.” The Plattdeutsche Restaurant served a three-course meal and highlighted the ceiling edges in blue lighting. Van Wie is strongly encouraged by this accomplishment.

“We started as a very small organization,” van Wie said. “There were only a dozen of us. Our first annual dinner had exactly 15 people. Now we’re up to 150. It was not at a restaurant, we each brought a dish.”

He explained that the historical society is very involved with community education. Not only do the students come for field trips, but most of the museum’s docents are retired teachers.

“Everything we do is volunteer,” van Wie said. “We’re an organization of volunteers serving our community.”

The museum is open the first Sunday of every month. In September it hosts the annual Fall Fest and in December it hosts the annual Winter Fest.

At the anniversary dinner, the historical society gave the Trustee Award to Boy Scout Troop 93. This troop has lasted for an entire century, a milestone the historical society wanted to celebrate.

“Most troops probably last about 10 years,” said Mike Priolo, the public relations representative for the troop. “They can’t get the adult leaders after the first initial leaders and sponsors. When they leave, they try to get somebody to take over the positions, and that’s mostly where it fails.”

Priolo and his son have both been Eagle Scouts in the troop. Priolo joined the Cub Scouts in 1959 and graduated to Troop 93 Eagle Scout in 1966. His son became an Eagle Scout with Troop 93 in 2002.

“There’s quite a few father-son scouts in the Eagles, but here’s not too many in the same troop,” Priolo said. “A lot has to happen: the troop has to be around. You have to have a son. Your son has to want to join the Boy Scouts. And your son would then have to earn the rank of Eagle. So there’s not too many father-son from the same troop.”

At the anniversary dinner, the historical society honored VFW Post 2718 of Franklin Square, which happens to be the sponsor of Troop 93.

“The veterans are the lifeblood of the community,” Youngfert said. “If they hadn’t served, we wouldn’t be here today. The ones who are here are kicking and going strong.”