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ROCKVILLE CENTRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Learn more about our past

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THE BEGINNINGS

How RVC Got its Name

A year or two before 1850, Mr. Robert Pettit set up a country store on Merrick Road, not far from Smith's Pond to serve a sparsely settled community called Near Rockaway. Near Rockaway then included the area of what is now Rockville Centre, Lynbrook and East Rockaway. It had been called Near Rockaway since about 1660 by the settlers of Hempstead because it was nearer to their town than Far Rockaway. 

Robert Pettit decided to apply for a post office as there was none in the region other than Hempstead. He was required to submit a name of his Village to officials in Washington, D.C. and he decided to honor the outstanding citizen of the region, a fine old patriarch 80 years of age who was a preacher, justice of the peace and owner of the local grist mill. His name was Mordecai Smith and his nickname was 'Rock' Smith because he came from the Rock branch of the Smith family. 

Pettit considered the name of Smithtown but was told that there was already a Smithtown. He subsequently submitted the names Smithfield, Smithburg, and Smithville, but they were already taken. The name Mordecai didn't seem usable so Pettit decided to try his nickname and submitted "Rockville." Once again, he was turned down. The name was already taken and so it would be a duplication. 

In desperation, Pettit added the "Centre" to it and it received approval. In 1849, he hung out the sign for "Rockville Centre Post Office." 

The Village of Rockville Centre first advertised lots for sale in 1854. It was not incorporated until 1892 

HISTORIC RVC POSTCARD IMAGES

These postcards are courtesy of the Frank Seipp collection.

Scroll through for images of times gone by.

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ROCKVILLE CENTRE GENERAL STORE AND POST OFFICE

ca. 1850

Robert Pettit's general store and original Post Office, located on the south side of Merrick Road, between Village and Lincoln Avenues.

CONTACT

28 Hempstead Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY 11570

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