Social Media Wish Results in WWI Memorial Garden at SCHS

WWI Memorial in Riverhead
Courtesy of Suffolk County Historical Society

When Suffolk County Historical Society Executive Director Victoria Berger made a birthday wish, she didn’t really expect it to come true.

Berger had noticed that recent road construction had severely damaged the 100-year-old World War I monument on the busy corner of the museum’s property at the intersection of Riverhead’s West Main Street, Court Street, and Osborn Avenue. She posted on her social media accounts that in lieu of gifts, the SCHS would accept donations toward plants for the Memorial.

Well, as happens on social media, the post went viral. Her appeal gained momentum, raising over $1,000 and gaining the attentions of Home Depot District Manager Dawn Marie Vanterpool, and the Riverhead Store Manager Denise Luck.

On Thursday, May 13, the Suffolk County Historical Society received a completely replanted and restored garden surrounding the centenarian World War I Monument, courtesy of the folks at Home Depot, who orchestrated truckloads of plants and gardening materials, along with a gardening crew to assist the SCHS staff with replanting the garden in time for Memorial Day.

The garden has been beautifully restored with shrubs and spring plants, and the additional private donations will go towards a park bench and further enhancements to the garden.

The WWI Monument garden also captured the interest of local Riverhead High School art teachers, who are planning to have Riverhead High School students create over 200 ceramic poppies to be set in the garden as an art installation planned for May 27, in preparation for Memorial Day ceremonies.

The historic WWI Monument was erected in 1920. The local paper declared: “Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Distinguished Soldier, Son of U.S. President, Dedicates WWI Monument in Riverhead on Memorial Day 1920.” It has been enhanced through the years with a World War II memorial plaque and an Eternal Flame. But the surrounding garden had languished in recent years, and after last year’s cancelled Memorial Day ceremony due to COVID, Berger was anxious to see the garden restored in time for this year’s Memorial Day, for visiting Veterans.

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