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The Hamlet Of Southold

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The hamlet of Southold was settled in 1640 by English Puritans from New Haven Colony in Connecticut. It is reported to be the first English settlement on Long Island and the oldest English town in New York State. Celebrating its 350th birthday in 1990, it will celebrate its 375th birthday in 2015! A quaint village surrounded by farms, vineyards, and beaches, with Long Island Sound to the north, Southold Bay to the east, and Little Peconic Bay to the south, it is ideal for summer vacationers, retirees, and full-time residents alike.

The Southold Historical Society, founded in 1960, is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of Southold. Mrs. Ann Hallock Currie-Bell was elected the first President. According to Geoffrey K. Fleming, Director, “Since that time the Society has grown from a one-building operation with a few hundred objects to one that has four separate sites, 19 buildings, and over 24,000 objects in its permanent collection.” Southold Town’s famous summer residents include Helen Keller who resided near Cedar Beach during the summer of 1936, with her companion Anne Sullivan, who died that same year and Albert Einstein who summered on Nassau Point in 1937, 1938, and 1939. Enjoy their Summer Gala Fundraiser at Brecknock Hall on July 12.

The Horton Point Lighthouse, located on a cliff in Southold above Long Island Sound, was constructed in 1857. President George Washington originally commissioned it in 1790. It was lit until 1933, when it was deactivated. Restoration of the lighthouse began in 1976 and the lighthouse was reactivated in 1990. The lower level of the Keeper’s House was then converted into The Southold Historical Society’s Nautical Museum. In 1994, the lighthouse was listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Nautical Museum was completely renovated in 2006.

The oldest public observatory on Long Island, The Custer Institute and Observatory, opened in 1939 at 1115 Main Bayview Road. It was the brainchild of Charles W. Elmer and his future partner Henry Perkins, both avid amateur astronomers, who established an astronomy organization in 1927. It was named after May Custer, the wife of Charles Elmer, who was the grandniece of General George Armstrong Custer. Barbara Lebkuecher, Treasurer of the Institute for 34 years, notes the Custer Institute features a large collection of telescopes, including a 25” telescope contained in the 22’ galvanized steel dome. The 36th Annual Astronomy Jamboree with lectures from renowned speakers, exhibits, and workshops will take place in the fall. It is open every Saturday night from dusk until midnight, weather permitting.

In an unusual irony, The Southold Indian Museum, built in 1962 is across the street from The Custer Institute at 1080 Main Bayview Road, owned and operated by the Incorporated Long Island Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association. The Museum has the largest collection of Algonquin ceramic pottery that exists and also features a Clovis Point and Folsom Point approximately 10,000 years old! Dr. Lucinda Hemmick has helped curate their summer exhibit, “PaleoIndian Arrival and Challenges.” Enjoy their August fundraiser featuring an aboriginal feast. Open Sundays.

Southold is known for its beautiful beaches, parks, preserves and wineries. Goose Creek Beach is on Southold Bay, while Southold Town Beach, McCabe’s Beach, and Kenney’s Beach are on Long Island Sound. Enjoy Cedar Beach County Park, a 68-acre park with over 2,800 feet on Shelter Island Sound. Observe ospreys over Arshamomaque Pond Preserve, a 54-acre wooded preserve with winding trails along the wetlands of the pond.

In the heart of wine country, Southold boasts eight fabulous vineyards from Duck Walk Vineyards North, Corey Creek Vineyards, Mattebella Vineyards, Croteaux Vineyards, to Sparkling Pointe, Onabay Vineyards, One Woman Vineyards, and The Old Field Vineyards. Southold produces some of the best wines on the North Fork.

Tom Scalia of Albertson Realty says, “The real estate market in Southold is good, with more transactions so far this year over last year.” Tom reflects, “Small properties and walk to beach are hot.” Founders Landing, Goose Creek Beach, and Paradise Point, a private beach, are among the best beaches in Southold. Enjoy wine tasting and visit KK’s The Farm, a family-owned organic farm on the Main Road.

Marie Beninati of Beninati Associates observes, “The Southold rental market is extremely active both for the full season and for full months.” Marie remarks, “There is great demand now and predicts a strong spring selling season. Waterfront is always hot, especially with a dock or association beaches.” Enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking and phenomenal paddleboarding. Experience great dining at The North Fork Table & Inn, Alure, Michelangelo’s, and Founders Tavern. Or pick up some fresh fish at The Southold Fish Market.

Discover the beauty, peace and serenity in the seaside village of Southold. With spectacular sunsets over the sound and gorgeous sunrises over the bay, Southold is an enchanting escape.

Ruth Thomas, a freelance writer on the East End enjoys history, music, literature, art, nature, the beach, and her cute dachshund, Clancy. She can be contacted at [email protected]