If your last name were Pagan, would you keep it or change it?

Robert and Ellen Pagan emigrated from Scotland to the Town of Hempstead in the late 1830s. As Ellen was a devout Methodist, her last name was a source of concern to her. Thus, her family changed its last name to Payan. The family was then tasked with choosing another name. When seeking to have a post office established in the community, Ellen’s husband Robert was told he needed to choose a name for his town. He picked Valley Stream based on the area’s topography. It has been called that name since 1843. As it is known today, the Village of Valley Stream was incorporated in January 1925.

Although a group of individuals expressed an interest in maintaining the area’s history as far back as 1958, the Valley Stream Historical Society was not formally incorporated until January 17, 1973. The organization’s goal was to establish a museum to house artifacts. This particular goal was realized in 1977 when the village took title to the Pagan homestead on Hendrickson Avenue and entered into a lease with the Valley Stream Historical Society. From 1977 through 1992, a Restoration Committee toiled to bring the house up to code. In August of 1983, the building was designated as a historic landmark by the State of New York. On September 8, 1983, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The house had been expanded over the years by prior owners, and the Valley Stream Historical Society chose not to remove those expansions. It was eventually restored to appear as it was during the period of 1900 through 1916. The society also chose to revert back to the original last name of the first owners of the house. It is now referred to as the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration or Pagan-Fletcher House. One of the Pagan daughters had married a Fletcher around 1847. At that time, a second floor was added to the house presumably as a wedding present, hence the addition of Fletcher to the museum’s name.

The Valley Stream Historical Society holds general meetings, in which speakers cover historical topics as well as subjects of general interest to the public. The meetings are held at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Valley Stream. Events also take place at the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration. On the Sunday of Presidents’ Weekend, members of the society dress in colonial costume and invite the public to see the one piece of George Washington memorabilia in the museum’s possession. Another anticipated occasion is Halloween, when the Valley Stream Historical Society holds an annual contest that awards prizes for the best costumes. In December, the society sponsors a gingerbread house contest and decorating class as well as a candlelight tour of the Restoration. At Christmas, it collects canned goods to support its local food pantry.

The Valley Stream Historical Society also publishes a newsletter called Panorama, which details the subject matter of the upcoming general meeting and features articles of interest to its members. One of its recent accomplishments was the erection of a historic sign near the Home Depot in Green Acres commemorating Curtiss Field and its importance to early aviation.

The Pagan-Fletcher Restoration is open to the public every Sunday (except certain holidays) from 1-4pm. Additionally, the society offers tours to schools and Scout groups during the week by appointment. At the request of local organizations, society members present a slideshow based on early images of Valley Stream. The Valley Stream Historical Society has also conducted more than 125 interviews to share community memories. These oral histories are available at the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library.

The Valley Stream Historical Society strives to provide the children and residents of Valley Stream with an idea of how the area evolved from farmland into its current community of one and two family residences. Learn more at www.nassaulibrary.org/valleyst/vshist.html.

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