Freeport Actors' Colony
Vaudeville in Freeport
This site is under construction.
With over 500 theatrical people to research and document, it will take time to populate this guide. Please check back often for more information and updates.
In the early 20th century, Freeport was the Hamptons before the Hamptons became the Hamptons. It was where the famous, soon-to-be famous, and those dreaming of fame, came to relax near the beach while remaining close to Broadway.
In 1900, John Stromberg (1853-1902) was one of the first persons connected to the theater to come to Freeport. After his death, the area around his home on Grand Avenue was developed into Stromberg Park. This development included names of Stromberg's theatrical friends including vaudevillians and theater managers Joe Weber and Lew Fields (Weberfield Avenue); actress Lillian Russell (Russell Street, Lillian Avenue, and Leonard Avenue); and Russell's companion Jesse Lewisohn (Jesse Street).
In a time before airconditioned theaters, many show-business people found Freeport a perfect place to spend the summer. In the 1910s and 1920s, over 500 actors, acrobats, composers, and musicians came to Freeport. Tom Smith, Leo Carrillo, and Victor Moore all called Freeport home. Freeport's actors would form an actors' organization that became world famous - The LIGHTS Club (Long Island Good Hearted Thespian Society). Its clubhouse, replete with a lighthouse tower, was built on Fairview Avenue. Its members often gave far-reaching publicity to Freeport when they mentioned the village in their stage shows. The LIGHTS Club had a number of non-Freeport members, including: Will Rogers; John Philip Sousa; Gentlemen Jim Corbett; Al Jolson, Richard and Alf Ringling (Ringling Bros. Circus); Flo Ziegfeld; and Irving Berlin. Many local LIGHTS Club members performed fundraisers for the Catholic Church and Jewish Synagogue.
Documenting the history of the Freeport Actors' Colony was the passion of village historian, Cynthia J. Krieg (1936-2023). This guide is built on the tremendous research conducted by Cynthia over two decades. I hope it serves a testament to her commitment and love of the Village of Freeport.