Historical society to look at history of Merchant Marine Academy

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An early print shows the Walter P. Chrysler estate in Kings Point, now the home of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The history of the school will be the focus of the next Great Neck Historical Society program on Wednesday, November 29, at Great Neck House. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Historical Society)

Hidden behind a gate and security guards at the end of Steamboat Road in Great Neck, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy may not be well known within the community – but a program from the Great Neck Historical Society seeks to change that.

The Great Neck Historical Society will look at the reasons for the founding of the academy and its early years, including its construction on the grounds of the Walter P. Chrysler estate during World War II, and its impact on the village of Kings Point and the Great Neck community today.

The interim director of the American Merchant Marine Museum, Dr. Joshua M. Smith, will discuss the history of the school and answer questions at the next program presented by the Great Neck Historical Society, free and open to the community. It begins at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Great Neck House, 14 Arrandale Avenue.

Dr. Smith is a professor of humanities at the Merchant Marine Academy and the author and editor of a number of publications dealing with maritime history, including “Battle for the Bay: The Naval War of 1812,” published by the Gregg Centre for the Study of Way and Society.

His other publications include “Borderland Smuggling: Patriots, Loyalists, and Illicit Trade in the Northeast, 1783-1820,” which won the John Lyman Award in American Maritime History, and “Documents in American Maritime History, 1492-Present,” a two-volume sourcebook in maritime history created in conjunction with the National Maritime Historical Society.

The following Great Neck Historical Society program, titled “Distinguished Composers from Great Neck,” will feature a presentation by Historical Society Board member Mischa Schwartz on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Further information about the programs can be found by visiting the Historical Society website, www.GreatNeckHistorical.com or calling (516) 288-6124.

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