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More Than Furniture

Wed, 08/16/2023 - 17:52


For fans of local history as well as of early American furniture, the opening today of the new Dominy Shops Museum on North Main Street is an exciting moment. The exhibits are reflective of East Hampton’s contribution to 18th and early-19th-century craftsmanship, and yet, there is much more to think about.

Dominy family and shop records themselves give us insight into the ordinary daily life on eastern Long Island. They point to the multiethnic nature of East Hampton from its very beginnings, where Indigenous people and people of African heritage brought their skills to bear, often against their wills, in building this community. For example, a Black man named Shem, believed today to have been formerly enslaved in East Hampton, worked to cut the timbers to build the iconic Hook Mill — the Dominys’ most iconic surviving accomplishment. Shem worked side by side with several Montaukett men whose names are not known today.

As you tour the museum — and we hope that you do — keep in mind the many hands that sustained East Hampton and, indeed, all of the Colonial and early-republic United States whose contributions history is only just now beginning to acknowledge.


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