High-tech, past to meet at Hallockville Museum Farm

Walking around Hallockville Museum Farm may be like taking a step back in time, but the experience will soon be enhanced by futuristic technology.

Thanks to a grant, Hallockville, located off Sound Avenue in Riverhead, will offer visitors the chance to follow what it calls a high-tech, virtual Sustainability Trail. The trail will make use of some 30 informational guideposts that dot the grounds. Each sign will be fitted with a QR code, the sort of black and white patterns found on products in stores. When scanned by a tour taker with a camera app on a smartphone, an audio narration will pop up along with photos or videos — in some cases, both.

“Members” of the Hallock family, which had the property in its name from at least 1801 until 1979, will be heard talking about how the farm operated, with details about such things as how they recycled gray water, fed garbage to pigs and used their rainwater capture system, said North Fork historian Richard Wines, who is writing a book about Hallockville.

“There’s a lot to learn,” said Mr. Wines, a former Hallockville board president who grew up in the community and is working on the trail project. “I had great fun, using sometimes real quotes from members of the family and sometimes making them up. They’ll be able to hear family members talking the way they used to talk.”

Hallockville executive director Roberta Shoten said, “While you’re taking your walking tour of the campus here, you’ll be able to hear and/or see some of the things that have been going on here since 1765.”

On view will be early-20th-century photos, the work of Bessie Hallock, who “realized that their farm was already anachronistic, so we have all these wonderful pictures,” said Mr. Wines.

This summer Hallockville was awarded two grants by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. One grant, for $9,788, is to be used to create the trail. The other, for $2,000, goes toward general operating support during these difficult times for nonprofit historical venues.

“As a not-for-profit in the year 2020, it’s extraordinary,” Ms. Shoten said. “We wouldn’t be able to undertake a project like this without the help of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. Ultimately, the grant will help us put a virtual tour on our website. So, if you can’t get here, but you’re doing research for your high school American history class, you’ll be able to find something on it on our website.”

Hallockville, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, provides a peek back to Long Island’s family farming roots. And for Mr. Wines, that’s one of the neatest aspects of the place.

“When I take visitors [for a tour], I love taking them there and taking them out behind the barn and saying, ‘Look, you know, this is what all of Long Island once looked like,’ ” he said.

“It’s a real tangible connection with our shared past, and that’s the sense I get, and it’s a fascinating one,” he continued. “You can learn about architecture there. You can learn about culture there. You can learn about the way women lived. You can learn about marriage customs. You can learn about all kinds of health crises … Tragedies in the family. Connections with the [American] Revolution. There was a local battle there in the War of 1812. There are connections to the Civil War.”

Ms. Shoten said Hallockville comprises 28 acres with 19 historic buildings, three cows, a couple of sheep and two chicken coops. But there is more. It’s the source of a variety of activities. Even during a pandemic, Hallockville has drive-in live music (“Bluegrass in the Barn”). Hallockville has also held a talk about the trees on the property, a virtual tea party and a yard sale. Ms. Shoten said there will also be a virtual Potatolicious Festival, celebrating one of Long Island’s famous crops. Hallockville’s 40th country fair, usually held in the last week of August, has been rescheduled for the first week of October.

Hallockville’s summer day camp for children will conclude in two weeks, and then talk will commence about offering tours to the public on a limited basis, said Hallockville vice president Suzanne Johnson.

The deadline for completion of the Sustainability Trail is December, but Ms. Johnson believes the aim is to have it ready by October.

Hallockville’s history is well documented and the property has remained largely unchanged for over 100 years. “Basically what was there in 1910 is almost all still there,” Mr. Wines said. “It is amazing.”