Preservation Long Island is pleased to present a 2020 Project Excellence Award to the community sponsors of the Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Subdivisions (SANS) National Register Historic District Survey and Nomination. This project demonstrates exceptional community-based advocacy for historic preservation and documents significant Jim Crow- and Civil Rights-era historic resources on Long Island.

We’ve partnered with Chris Kretz of The Long Island History Project to celebrate our 2020 Preservation Awards with a new podcast series. Listen to podcast about this award with Renee V. H. Simons, local homeowner and SANS Steering Committee Chair.

A recent community gathering on the beach at SANS. Image courtesy of the SANS Steering Committee,

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019, the SANS Historic District survey and nomination project was championed by community residents and homeowners. This project documents how SANS was established during the late Jim Crow era by African American families seeking summer respite on Long Island. African Americans began purchasing property in SANS for summer retreats during the late 1940s, a time when people of color faced widespread racial segregation, violence, and discrimination that prevented them from accessing beaches and resorts on Long Island and across the country. SANS quickly emerged as a popular African American leisure destination and a bastion of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.

The SANS Historic District is an important step forward towards greater representation of African American history within the National Register of Historic Places. As of 2020, only about 2% of the National Register’s 95,000+ entries formally recognize the historical contributions and experiences of African Americans.

This project was led by the community-based SANS Steering Committee chaired by Renee V. H. Simons, a SANS homeowner. Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Executive Director/Chief Curator of the Eastville Community Historical Society, served as an advisor to the Steering Committee for the project. Preservation Long Island’s Preservation Director, Sarah Kautz, also served as a project advisor as part of our mission-based Advisory Services & Technical Support program. The work of the SANS Steering Committee and its advisors received a New York State Historic Preservation Award in 2019.

This project was self-funded by SANS residents with additional grant support from the Preservation League of New York State’s Preserve NY grant program and a grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. The Sag Harbor Partnership served as a fiscal sponsor for the project’s grant funding. Dr. Alison Manfra McGovern was hired as a consultant to prepare and submit the survey and nomination materials for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Please click HERE to read more about the history and significance of SANS.

SANS beach ca. 1959. Image courtesy of the Donnamarie Barnes Archive.
Renee V. H. Simons, local homeowner and SANS Steering Committee Chair, pictured above on the beach at SANS. Photo by Anthony J. Causi for Newsday.
A SANS community gathering in Ninevah at the hand-built home of James and Barbara Brannen, form town trustee. Photo from the collection of John Pickens, courtesy of Sag Harbor Express.

Preservation Long Island’s biennial Preservation Awards are made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.