An Interview with Bert Seides

 

Bertram Seides was born and raised in Center Moriches. His father was a mink farmer and went on to become a chemistry teacher at Center Moriches high school.

Bert was always interested in old buildings. He first got involved with the Ketcham Inn after the Inn suffered a fire in 1989. He contacted the owner at the time, and asked him what it would cost to purchase inn. The original selling price was $125,000. Bert started a foundation to raise money and received a matching grant from New York State Parks in order to make the purchase. Three years later, when the sale of the Inn went to closing, the price had increas

ed and the Inn was purchased for $165,000.The Ketcham Inn was built in 1693 as a settlement cottage and expanded over the years. The size of the house was doubled around 1700. By 1790 the house had tripled in size and had 2 chimney stacks. Inside there were 6 bedrooms, 3 parlors, a winter kitchen, a summer kitchen, a dinning room, and a ball room. The parlors were furnished with a bed, a couple of chairs, and a table. The bedrooms were just big enough for a bed. Some original pieces of furniture that have been returnedto the Inn for the restoration.Travelers would stop at the Inn when they saw that it had two chimneys because they knew that it was large enough to accommodate them. Former presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were some of the famous people that patronized the Ketcham Inn. It cost about 1 shilling to stay at the Inn. In the early 1900’s the Moriches area became a tourist spot with over 30 hotels. The largest being the Brooklyn Hotel. Tourists tended to stay at these more modern hotels. The local merchants and doctors would stay at the Ketcham Inn. Since there were few houses in the area, people riding their horses would frequently stop by the Inn to say hello. The Ketcham Inn was also a working farm. Local Native Americans worked the farm.By 1912 the Ketcham’s had passed away. The Inn has had many different owners since then. It has been a restaurant, a private residence, a tea house and a house for battered women. Once the restoration is complete, the Inn will serve as a living history museum and cultural center. The tavern and another room will be available for holding fundraising events. A significant amount of money has already been spent on the restoration project. Bert continues to raise money for the restoration of the Ketcham Inn through grant writing and fundraising. A grand ball was held at the Masury Ballroom, and there are weekend book sales, which draw many people. Bert estimates that it will cost approximately one million dollars to completely restore the Ketcham Inn.

~Written by Jillian B.

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