The Bayles-Swezey House (Circa:1800) was built on the Bayles’ family farm by Ebenezer Bayles (1773-1854). He lived and worked here with his wife Mary Homan and six children until his death in 1854. At the end of his life the house passed to his second youngest child. Ency Bayles and her husband Stephen Swezey inherited the house and held it until 1890. Their daughter Ann Maria Swezey, never leaving home, lived in the house for a decade following her parents’ death. Upon her death in 1901 the house left the families’ possession.
The 20th century marked a new beginning for the house. In 1902 the house passed to a distant relative and owner of the surrounding lands; one Laura E. Rowland. The house remained in her and her husband’s family until 1933 when it was sold a total of five times between 1933 and 1961. In 1961 the house sat just south of its current location where the Telephone Company Building is currently. For the price of $1.00 the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA) purchased the Bayles-Swezey House and moved it north to its current location next to the Thomson House. This served as the headquarters for SPLIA from 1962-1997. In 1998 through the involvement of Assemblyman Steven Englebright the Three Village Historical Society was able to purchase the Bayles-Swezey House using a $325,000 grant from New York State’s Community Enhancement Facilities Assistance Program. The society continues to operate out of the house today.
Where Many Heads Have Rested
When the house passed to Laura E. Rowland and her husband Woodhull Satterly Rowland in 1902, there existed two other houses on the property apart from the then vacant farm house. The newly acquired Bayles-Swezey house, for the period of 1901 through the 1920’s, served as a boarding house. People such as Dr. McAullife of New York City and jitney driver Willis Winters boarded for stretches here in Setauket. There are even stories of several families living in the house at one time. The rural two story residence has had 12 owners in over 200 years and has served as a home to many more.
The early 19th century American side gabled farmhouse boasts a number of architecturally significant features. Among these are a central chimney and gable, as well as the original fireplace and corner cabinet located in the meeting room. The east facing concrete addition to the house was added by SPLIA in 1961 in order to safely house the many records and artifacts belonging to the organization. Today the addition is home to the TVHS physical archives and The Sailing Circle Exhibit.
The Bayles-Swezey House of Setauket nostalgically overlooks North Country Road. This two and one half story side gable farmhouse represents the rich heritage of Long Island’s sister industries of agriculture and maritime shipping. Upon first glance the restored structure and property tells of an agrarian life here in Setauket. The house currently serves as the headquarters and offices of the Three Village Historical Society. Additionally, a gift shop and exhibit operates out of the house, which is open to the public.