Head of Gracie Mansion Conservancy named head of Oysterponds Historical Society

Paul Gunther began coming out to Orient a dozen years ago, staying in a cottage overlooking Long Island Sound. The property held all the magic of Orient, with its open fields and woods and the added benefit that the northwest facing view was a showcase to stunning sunsets.

As a longtime veteran of the New York City nonprofit world, Mr. Gunther is the executive director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, which oversees the history and architectural integrity of Gracie Mansion, the home of New York City’s mayor with roots back to 1799. 

On April 18, Mr. Gunther will assume a new post that is very much an outgrowth of his career in history and art: he will become the executive director of the Oysterponds Historical Society.

“I have always been interested in the local history in Orient,” he said in an interview. “I will come to this job with passion and humility to learn more and understand more — the full record of the history there.

“My career has been a varied one, but in the nonprofit sector, in land use, art and history,” he said. 

He will retire from the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, where he worked since 2015.

“This is a natural time for me to turn the page … My heart is in Orient,” he said. “That will be the center of my professional life.”

Paul Gunther. (Credit: Oysterponds Historical Society)

The Conservancy website describes Mr. Gunther as a longtime participant in the cultural riches of New York City. “He has worked as a consultant on a number of local arts and historical organizations and has a written for professional publications on topics ranging from architecture, landscape design, preservation, land use and art history often through a sociopolitical lens,” according to the website.

At Oysterponds, Mr. Gunther will succeed Sarah Sands, who retired as executive director last September.

In the interview, Mr. Gunther made it clear Orient is a place with a very rich history, where there is much more to be learned. 

“And it’s such a strong community,” he said. “The society has very committed volunteers. There is a tight bond in the community and a strong sense of being stewards of the history. We want to make sure a new generation is there to appreciate that history and continue the tradition.”