Long Island's Hidden Past: Hicksville Gregory Museum

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HICKSVILLE -

Although much of Hicksville's historic structures have been lost over time, there is one structure that still remains. News 12 Long Island's Danielle Campbell and Brian Endres take you there in this month's Long Island's Hidden Past.

A courthouse from the 1800s, looks as if it has been forgotten in time as cars, trucks, and trains speed through the busy crossroads of Hicksville.

The building dates back to 1895 when the area was Queens County. 

Don Curran, curator of the Gregory Museum, which is located inside the courthouse, say it is the oldest intact structure from Hicksville's past. 

In 1834, Valentine Hicks, a businessman from Jericho who bought and sold land, created a farming community on the Hempstead plains and called it Hicksville.

It was a small community population with farms all around - pickles were big business. Heinz Pickles once had a big farm and factory in Hicksville. Heinz also made coleslaw using vinegar from apples bought from orchards in Greenlawn.

Hicks, who also served as the second president of the Long Island Rail Road, brought the train to what was considered the middle of nowhere - making it easier for farmers to bring their cash crops - potatoes and pickles - into the city.

In 1849, industrious German families settled there by the dozens and Hicksville quickly became a bustling and thriving town. Back then, Broadway was a two-lane road lined with trees, mansions and hotels.

The hotels were the hot spots back then, with dancing and dining. Along with the fun, once in a while, there was a bit of trouble. The courthouse and jail were built in order to deal with the trouble makers.

Residents that lived near the jail would cook for the prisoners, so they got a home cooked meal. Sometimes it was so cold in the jail that the constable would let the prisoners upstairs into his private residence. 

The courthouse was used until the mid-1960s. It was bought by Gardiner Gregor who restored in and it became an earth science museum.

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