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Freeport History Encyclopedia: V

Freeport History Encyclopedia includes authoritative information about Freeport's past. This guide is perfect for anyone wanting to know more about our village.

Van Blerck, Joseph Jr.

Joseph Christian William Van Blerck, Jr. (1911-1974) was a champion speedboat driver and a designer of marine engines at his boat yard at 397 Woodcleft Avenue.  He was born in Detroit and Van Blerck later graduated Pratt Institute.  Van Blerck worked with his father, a pioneering marine engine manufacturer, at the family business, Joseph Van Blerck and Son, located at 397 Woodcleft Avenue and 15 Henry Street, Roosevelt.

In 1947, Van Blerck won the around Manhattan Island Marathon setting a record in his hydroplane, Aljo V of 39 minutes.  In 1948 and 1949 he won the 43-mile regatta at Ocean City, NJ and the Delaware River speedboat championships.  He set the one mile record in Maryland in 1949, and followed this achievement by winning the championship in his class at the Buffalo Launch Club regatta in 1950. Van Blerck also won a race sponsored by the Maryland Yacht Club.   In 1951, he was elected to the Gulf Marine Racing Hall of Fame.

Van Blerck was a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers, the National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers, the American Power Boat Association, and the Freeport Exchange Club. He, his wife Alice (d. 1996), and his son Joseph III, lived at 840 South Grove Street (now Guy Lombardo Avenue). 

Van Blerck died at the age of 63 at Doctor's Hospital. He is buried in Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury, NY.



"Van Blerck Dies." The Leader.  July 11, 1974, 2. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Zipper, Joseph "Doc". "In the Spot-Lite." The Leader. August 6, 1959, 12. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 11, 2021.

Van Blerck, Joseph Sr.

Joseph C. W. Van Blerck, Sr. (Josephus Christianus Wilhelmus Van Blerck) (1876-1949) was a pioneer in the design and manufacture of boat motors and was called "the father of the high speed marine engine."  Born in Holland, he came to the United States in 1900. Settling in Detroit, Van Blerck was an acquaintance of Henry Ford and worked in Ford's experimental laboratory.  He later established the Von Blerck Motor Company.  He later founded Joseph Van Blerck and Son at 397 Woodcleft Avenue and at 15 Henry Street, Roosevelt.

In 1911, Van Blerck's "Big-6" marine engine, the first six-cylinder engine built, revolutionized the field of power boating.  This 1,400 lb. engine had a 100 horsepower capacity and ran at 1,200 rpms.  It originally cost $1,500.  Van Blerck also built the first eight and 12-cylinder in-line marine engines in the United States. In 1914, he held the water speed record of 60 mph.  

During World War II, Van Blerck's business in Freeport manufactured exhaust lines and mufflers for the Navy's Elco PT boats.  It was reported that the U.S. government paid Van Blerck $33,000 for plans to his design of a new marine engine and that he constructed pontoons for the Wright brothers' first flying boat.  Along with William Hacker, Van Blerck built the first hydroplane in the United States.

In his spare time, Van Blerck, built cross bows which he used to hunt sharks in the ocean.  It was reported that he could split a half dollar at 50 paces.

Van Blerck lived at 117 Gordon Place. His first wife, Dinphina, died in 1943. He died in Fort Lauderdale and is buried in Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury, NY.



Shelland, Harry. "Afield and Afloat." Nassau Daily Review-Star. January 7, 1952, 15. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Shelland, Harry. "The Waterfront." Nassau Daily Review-Star. September 7, 1949, 19. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Zipper, Joseph "Doc". "In the Spot-Lite." The Leader. August 6, 1959, 12. Accessed May 11, 2021.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 11, 2021.

Van Riper's Block

Van Riper's Block (also known as Van Riper's Brick Block) was located on South Main Street with the rear of the property abutting Church Street (though its exact location is unknown).  Its earliest mention is 1892 when it was reported that Mrs. C. W. Smith opened a meat market at this location.  Other businesses include: a bicycle store owned by George Bennett Smith (1897); fruit store owned by Carl James and Albert Post (1896); a store owned by Mrs. A. J. Scott; F. B. McLean's Auction-Sale; Elbert W. Verity Wall Paper and Mouldings; and Aaron Raphael Shaving and Hair Cutting Parlors (1897).  In 1897, a fence was erected at the rear of the property on Church Street. 



Aaron Raphael Shaving and Hair Cutting Parlors [advertisement]. Queens County Review. August 7, 1896, 2. Accessed April 18, 2019.

Elbert W. Verity [advertisement]. Queens County Review. January 1, 1897, 2. Accessed April 24, 2019.

F. B. McLean's Auction-Sale [advertisement]. Queens County Review.  September 11, 1896, 2. Accessed April 24, 2019.

"Local." Queens County Review. May 14, 1897, 3. Accessed April 25, 2019.

"Local." Queens County Review. June 12, 1896, 3. Accessed April 24, 2019.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, April 30, 2019

Van Riper, Harry E.

Harry Edward Van Riper (1877-1955) was a Freeport realtor, developer, and hotel operator.  In the early 1900s, Van Riper managed the Grove Park Hotel (Imperial Hotel) and, later, the Woodcleft Inn and the Long Beach Inn.  In St. Petersburg, Florida, Van Riper managed the Clarendon and Park Hotel.  He was an early member of the South Shore Yacht Club.  Additionally, Van Riper was a member of the Exempt Firemen's Association and the Freeport Elks Club.

Van Riper once worked as a salesman for the Morris O'Mera Paper Company that sold commercial paper to the Brooklyn Eagle. He also headed the Long Island Paper Bag Company.  Van Riper was also a deputy sheriff of Nassau County.  For many years, he had a real estate office on the corner of Sunrise Highway and Grove Street (now Guy Lombardo Avenue).  His office was designed like a miniature house.

In 1943, Van Riper and his wife, Marie, (nee Heenan) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  They were married at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Seaford, NY.  The Van Riper family lived in Freeport at various addresses:  99 Rose Street, 336 South Ocean Avenue, and on Swezey Avenue.  Harry Van Riper died in 1955 at the Meadowbrook Hospital at the age of 82.  He buried in Greenfield Cemetery, Uniondale, NY.

See Also:

Imperial Hotel



"Borough, Freeport Couples, Observe Golden Wedding." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle.. October 18, 1943, 7. Accessed April 25, 2017.

"Freeport Couple Will Celebrate Golden Wedding."  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 12,1943, 12.  Accessed April 25, 2017.

"Harry E. Van Riper Dies at Meadowbrook." The Leader. December 8, 1955, 4. Accessed April 25, 2017.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, April 25, 2017.

Van Riper's Hall

Van Riper's Hall ​was a building used for public meetings.  Owned by Isaac Van Riper, the building was located on Main Street opposite the Freeport Bank.  On June 18, 1892, twenty Freeport citizens met at Van Riper's Hall to appoint a committee of seven to take steps towards the incorporation of Freeport. The village government rented an office in Van Riper's Hall for $34 a month.  This hall was also where the Episcopal Church held its first religious services after organizing in October 1892.

Click here for images related to Van Riper's Hall.



"As Others See Us." Nassau County Review. December 22, 1911, 3. Accessed August 5, 2016.

Cacciatore, Anna Jean. The Village of Freeport, New York, The Municipal Government In Its Formative Years, 1892-1897. Hofstra College, 1957.

"History of the Episcopal Chuch." Nassau County Review. September 19, 1919, 1. Accessed August 6, 2016.

"Village Offices, Freeport, Moved to New Building." Nassau Daily Review. February 11, 1929, 2. Accessed August 6, 2016.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, August 9, 2016.

Vanderpoel, W. Irving

W. Irving Vanderpoel was the nineteenth president (mayor) of Freeport (1925 to 1926).

Vanderpoel was preceded by Raymond J. Miller and succeeded by John Cruickshank.

Click here for images related to W. Irving Vanderpoel.

Researched by Cynthia J. Krieg, May 29, 2016.

Varmus, Harold

Harold Eliot Varmus (1939-) is a Freeport-born microbiologist and Nobel laureate.  His parents were Beatrice (nee Barasch) and Frank Varmus.  After graduating from Freeport High School in 1957, he received a B.A. at Amherst College and a M.A. in literary studies from Harvard University.  He graduated with an M.D. from Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1966.  Between 1966 and 1968, he received clinical training at Presbyterian Hospital, New York, and research training from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He then joined the department of microbiology at the University of California, San Francisco.  Between 1984 and 1993, Varmus was a professor of molecular virology with the American Cancer Society.  He returned to the NIH as director (1993-1999). In 2000, Varmus was appointed president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  Beginning in 2009, Varmus served as co-chair of Presidential Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.  The following year, President Obama named him as director of the National Cancer Institute.

In 1989, Varmus and J. Michael Bishop were co-awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.  

Varmus was featured in the PBS show Finding Your Roots, Season 6, Episode 7.



Denman, Michael. "Varmus, Harold Eliot." Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 2nd ed., vol. 20, Macmillan Reference USA, 2007, 477.

"Harold Eliot Varmus." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 15, Gale, 2004, 436-437.

"Varmus, Harold Elliot." American Men & Women of ScienceA Biographical Directory of Today's Leaders in Physical, Biological, and Related Sciences, edited by Katherine H. Nemeh, 31st ed., vol. 7, Gale, 2013, 399.

Voyageur, 1957 (Freeport High School Yearbook).

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, January 30, 2023.


Vasil, Eddie

Edward (Eddie) A. Vasil (?-1969) was a long-time columnist for The Leader.  His first column appeared in the Webster Times (MA) in 1932. His syndicated articles appeared in newspaper across the United States.  His first documented column in The Leader was published in the August 19, 1948 issue and was titled "Around Town." In 1950, Eddie Vasil and Wallace Campbell, publishers of The Freeporter, the official publication of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, acquired The Leader.  Vasil became the circulation manager of the weekly newspaper and published the column "Man About Town.". In February 1951, Vasil left The Leader and The Freeporter to publish the Nassau Reporter. In December of that year, while at the Freeport Bank, Vasil suffered a heart attack.  He recovered at the Meadowbrook Hospital.  

In 1946, Vasil and Lyman Duryea created the Duryea Orchid Award which was bestowed on deserving women in recognition of their community service.

Vasil attended Northeastern University and New York University, majoring in law and journalism. While in college, he won the Lawrence Daley Journalistic Scholarship Award for his poem about Charles Lindbergh.  Vasil did post-graduate work at Cornell University. It was reported that he spoke five languages.  During World War II, Vasil served in the Navy.  He was a public relations officer for the Sea Bees and the public information officer for the Naval Special Devices Center and for the Chemical Corps. 

In 1947, Vasil worked as a tax counselor with an office at 64 South Grove Street.  That same year, he opened the Long Island Oil Company, a service station at Henry Street and Sunrise Highway.  It was reported that Vasil spent $20,000 on the property's "beautification".

Vasil was a featured radio headliner and news commentator on WGBB, WKIT, WPHO, WTAG, WORC, WKBE, the Yankee Network, and CBS. His wire services included United Press International, Standard News Service, Associated Press, and National Press Syndicate.  He was a member of the New York Press Club, New York Newspaper Reporters' Association, National Editorial Association, and Sigma Delta Chi, the National Professional Journalistic Society.  He returned to The Leader and began publishing columns such as "News and Views" and "Vasil's Varieties."  His columns focused on local personalities, restaurants, and merchants.  

While working in the public relations field, Vasil's clients included Guy Lombardo, Joan Caulfield, Alan Ladd, Ronald Reagan, Paramount Studios, Warner Brothers, Century Theatres, Virginia Mayo, Michael O'Shea, Princess Ming Chu, the Boy Scouts, and the Red Cross.

In 1962, Vasil was a member of the Freeport Historical Society's executive committee.

At the time of his death in 1969, Vasil was the editor of The Leader.



"Announcement Regarding 'The Freeporter" Magazine." The Leader. February 22, 1951, 3. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"Eddie Vasil Starts Service Station." The Leader. August 28, 1947, 4. Accessed December 28, 2017.

Edward A. Vasil [advertisement]. The Leader.  February 6, 1947, 8. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"A Few Words About Vasil." The Leader. January 25, 1968, 1. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"In Appreciation." The Leader. June 26, 1969, 3. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"It Happened... Years Ago." The Leader. September 29, 1988, 13. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"Leader During the 50s and 60s." The Leader. October 26, 1995, 16. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"The Leader Staff Wishes Eddie Vasil Speedy Recovery." The Leader. December 6, 1951, 1.

Long Island Oil Company [advertisement]. The Leader. September 11, 1947, 6. Accessed December 28, 2017.

"Passing in Review." Nassau Review-Star. October 4, 1950, 2. Accessed December 28, 2017.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 28, 2017.


Venice of Freeport

"Venice of Freeport" was the title originally used to describe the Woodcleft section of Freeport.  Later, around 1929, this moniker was applied to the Meister Beach development.

See Also:

Meister Beach




'Woodcleft As Seen From Brooklyn." Nassau County Review. May 29, 1914, 5. Accessed December 12, 2016.

"Public Notice of Sale of Lands for Unpaid Taxes: Incorporated Village of Freeport." The Nassau Daily Review. [n.d.], 1938, 28. Accessed December 12, 2016.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 12, 2016.

Verity Skiff

Verity Skiff see: Verity's Skiff

Viebrock, Cord

Cord Viebrock was the owner of Viebrock's restaurant, president of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Village Planning Board (1946-1948), a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (1948), a village trustee for eight years, a member of the Freeport Merchants Association, and Chairman of the Freeport Housing Authority. During his tenure with the Housing Authority, the Moxey Rigby Apartment building was built.  Viebrock was also associated the Freeport Elks Club, the Masons, Freeport Republican Club, and was a Gold Star father.

Viebrock came to the United States from Hanover, Germany at the age of 14.  He entered the candy and soda fountain business in 1909 as an apprentice to his cousins.  Five years later, with $500 he saved and a $8,000 loan, Viebrock opened a store of his own in New York City.  He and his wife, Henrietta, opened another store in Astoria.  Around 1933, he opened Viebrock's in Freeport on South Main Street.  He was often referred to as "Pop" Viebrock by his customers.

On December 22, 1944, Viebrock's son, John C. died during the Battle of the Bulge as a member of the United States Army infantry.

In 1955, Viebrock served as the chairman for a fundraising drive for South Nassau Communities Hospital.  Viebrock retired to Florida.  He is buried in Greenfield Cemetery, Uniondale, NY.

Click here for images related to Cord Viebrock.

See Also:

Freeport Chamber of Commerce

Freeport Merchants Association

Freeport Republican Club

Rigby, Moxey




Carroll, John C. "The Freeport Picture." The Leader. April 28, 1955, 7. Accessed June 4, 2018.

Cord Viebrock obituaryThe Leader. May 5, 1988, 15.  Accessed May 29, 2018.

Vasil, Eddie. "Eddie Vasil Introduces... Cord Viebrock." The Leader. March 16, 1950, 1. Accessed June 4, 2018.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, June 5, 2018.


Viebrock's restaurant was located at 40 South Main Street.  The business was opened by Cord Viebrock (1894-1988) around 1933.  Later owners included Helen Weekes (Cord Viebrock's niece), Otto Krause, and Walter Itgen.  In the 1960s, Viebrock's employed 50 and had seating for 225 people.  The restaurant also had a large private dining room for special occasions.  Viebrock's motto was "Where friend meets friend."

Click here for images related to Viebrock's.

See Also:

Viebrock, Cord



Caplan, Geoff.  "In the Spot-Lite Viebrock's." The Leader. January 3, 1965, 3. Accessed May 29, 2018.

Cord Viebrock obituary. The Leader. May 5, 1988, 15.  Accessed May 29, 2018.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 29, 2018.


Villa Rosa

Villa Rosa was an Italian restaurant located at 244 East Merrick Road. It was opened in 1952 by the owners of the Marconi Restaurant on Mulberry Street in New York City. At one time, Constantino J. Pacilio  owned the restaurant.  Later, the Villa Rosa was owned and operated by Michael Carrature (1919-2004) and his family, including his daughter Mary Pacilio.

It was reported that Guy Lombardo got his pizza from Villa Rosa.  The restaurant was demolished in 1997.

Click here for material related to Villa Rosa.



"Along the Main Streets." The Leader. November 11, 1954, 6. Accessed January 17, 2018.

Joseph Crisci obituary. Newsday. March 24, 2001, A02. 

Michael Carrature obituary.  The Leader. May 13, 2004, 18. Accessed January 17, 2018.

"Rights Held for Constantino J. Pacilio." Newsday. October 5, 1961, 43C.

Villa Rosa [advertisement]. Nassau Daily Review-Star. July 11, 1952, 6. Accessed July 13, 2020.


Researched by Regina G. Feeney, January 17, 2018.

Updated by Regina G. Feeney, July 13, 2020.

Village Hall

Village Improvement Society

Village Improvement Society was organized in 1894 as Freeport's first civic association.  Its officers included: J. W. Fitzsimmon, president; George P. Bergen, vice president; George T. VanRiper, secretary; and George W. Bergen, treasurer.

The objectives of the Village Improvement Society were:

  1. The cultivation of public spirit and village pride
  2. United action in advancing village interests

All residents of the village, 21 years of age or older and of good reputation were eligible for membership.  Meetings were held on the first Wednesday of each month.  Soon after its inception, this organization disappears from newspaper reports.

In 1911, the Village Improvement Society was re-organized with the mission to "look to the advancement and improvement of the village and to take up all matters of interest on the plan of the greatest good to the largest number."  Temporary officers included: Captain James Hanse, chairman; J. Huyler Ellison, secretary; and Ernest S. Randall, treasurer.  This organization, like its predecessor, soon disappears from local media reporting.

See Also:

Bergen, George W.

Hanse, James

Randall, Ernest R.



Cacciatore, Anna Jean. The Village of Freeport, New York The Municipal Government In Its Formative Years, 1892-1897. Uniondale: NY, Hofstra University, 1961.

"Freeport." The Sentinel. April 5, 1894.  Accessed May 26, 2017.

"Freeport." South Side Messenger. February 10, 1911, 8. Accessed May 26, 2017.

"Freeport." South Side Observer. May 18, 1894. Accessed May 26, 2017.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 26, 2017.

Village Seal

The village seal was designed by local artist Louis F. Fleming and adopted in 1928 during the Clinton M. Flint administration. The seal includes the words: "Freeport - Nassau County - New York - The Heart of the Sunrise Trail - Incorporated 1892." Freeport's location on Long Island is indicated by a star. An airplane flies above Long Island, while in the east there is a rising sun. To the left is the Statue of Liberty and to the right is a large ship with sails.

In his book Freeport As It Was, Village Historian Clinton Metz claimed that Freeport's seal was the first Village seal adopted on Long Island.

See Also:

Fleming, Louis F. 

Flint, Clinton M.



"Freeport Seal Symbolizes Growth."  The Nassau Daily Review. August 7, 1955, 12. Accessed February 4, 2018.

Metz, Clinton E. Freeport As It Was. Freeport, NY, 1976.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, February 3, 2018.

Viking (Fishing Fleet)

Viking fishing fleet was established in Freeport by Carl G. Forsberg in 1936.  Viking II, a 36-foot vessel, was the fleet's first boat (there was no Viking I).  In 1955, Forsberg moved the fleet from Freeport to Montauk. 

Click here for images of the Viking fleet.



Carl G. Forsberg [obituary]. Newsday. July 17, 1972, 31. 

Hanning, Leo P. "In the Open." Newsday. August 23, 1943, 21.

Keating, Frank. "The Forsberg 'Super Boat.'" Newsday. July 31, 1977, D3. 

Viking Fleet, About Our Captains.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, March 7, 2020.

Viking Grille

The Viking Grille was a diner located at 20 Front Street in the 1950s and 60s.



Vasil, Eddie. "Freeport's Greatest Natural Asset: Fabulous Waterfront." The Leader. July 8, 1965, 1. Accessed September 10, 2018.

Viking Grille [classified advertisement]. Newsday. November 20, 1952, 113.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, September 10, 2018.

Von Tilzer, Albert

Albert Von Tilzer (1878-1956), born Albert Gummblinsky, was a songwriter, publisher, and performer famous for composing Take Me out to the Ball Game. Von Tilzer lived at 255 Southside Avenue.  He and his brother Harry were charter members of the LIGHTS Club and were both active in the club's shows and benefits.  

Click here for images related to Albert Von Tilzer.



Cullen, Frank. "Albert Von Tilzer." Vaudeville Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Krieg, Cynthia J. and Regina G. Feeney. Freeport. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, April 16, 2018.

Von Tilzer, Harry

Harry Von Tilzer (1872-1946) was born Harry Gummblinsky, was a songwriter, publisher, and performer.  His songs included A Bird in a Gilded Cage and I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad. Von Tilzer lived at 487 South Bayview Avenue.  He and his brother Albert were charter members of the LIGHTS Club and both brothers were active in shows and benefits put on by the LIGHTS Club.  

Click here for images related to Harry Von Tilzer.



Cullen, Frank. "Albert Von Tilzer." Vaudeville Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. New York: Routledge, 2007.

"Freeport." The Nassau Post. April 5, 1918, 5. Accessed April 16, 2018.

Krieg, Cynthia J. and Regina G. Feeney. Freeport. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, April 16, 2018.