10. Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach

Sag Harbor Hills, site of one of Long Island's free Black communities
Courtesy of Donnamerie Barnes.

Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach Subdivisions Historic District (SANS) is a historic African American beachfront community in Sag Harbor founded following World War II. Some of the residents of SANS are descendants of free Black communities in East Hampton and Sag Harbor. From the early 1800s, the section of Sag Harbor known as Eastville was a community for free Blacks, many of whom attended St. David AME Zion Church built in 1839. Reverend J.P. Thompson was a friend of Frederick Douglass, and it is believed that the church was a stop along the Underground Railroad. Many Sag Harbor whalers are buried in an adjacent cemetery. The community consisted also of Native Americans and European immigrants, many of whom worked in nearby factories. Wives were often property owners so they could preserve their home and family in case a ship didn’t make it back.

SANS became a popular destination for African American families in the 1940s, starting with Azurest. Some built summer cottages on large lots, including major civil rights leaders. Maude Terry and her sister and architect Amaza Lee Meredith came up with the idea for a private community for Black families. The area attracted the likes of Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, and eventually over 300 Black families bought homes in Azurest and the surrounding municipalities. SANS is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and many historic homes have been preserved for the last few decades.