Attention Sag Harborites! Join us in supporting preservation of Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Subdivisions Historic District (SANS). If you live in the Village of Sag Harbor, please contact your local elected officials to let them know you support local historic district designation for SANS.

Why is SANS historically significant?

The SANS Historic District was officially listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 2019. SANS is one of Long Island’s most significant historic districts associated with the Jim Crow era and Civil Rights Movement. African American families began purchasing property for summer houses in the waterfront community during the late 1940s. Elsewhere at this time, people of color struggled to access beaches and resorts across the United States due to racial segregation, violence, and discrimination.

SANS quickly emerged as a popular African American leisure destination in the late Jim Crow era, becoming a bastion of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Many prominent black leaders and professionals became SANS homeowners, including Roscoe C. Brown Jr. (1922–2016), a decorated Tuskegee Airmen pilot, and Edward R. Dudley (1911–2005), a New York State Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Ambassador. Well-known celebrities like Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, and Harry Belafonte were also frequent visitors.

A recent community gathering on the beach at SANS.

Why is SANS endangered?

SANS is threatened by demolition and redevelopment as a result of intensive real estate speculation on Long Island’s East End. Speculative redevelopment is driven by existing zoning allowances and the possibility of variances that incentivize overbuilding, as well as a lack of up-to-date local historic designations. Every year, original SANS homes are demolished so their lots can be merged to allow for the construction of larger, more exclusive new luxury properties affordable to only the wealthiest of buyers.

SANS beach ca. 1959. Image courtesy of the Donnamarie Barnes Archive.

How can SANS be preserved?

The SANS Historic District was officially listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 2019. However, SANS is not yet designated as a local historic district of the Village of Sag Harbor. Local village historic designation is important because listing on the National and State Registers does not protect historic properties from destruction by their owners. Only designation by the Village of Sag Harbor as a local historic district can protect SANS from further demolition and intensive redevelopment.

Preservation Long Island joins our local partners in advocating for the designation and preservation of SANS as a village historic district.

How does historic designation work in Sag Harbor Village?

The process of historic designation is outlined by Article XIII of the Zoning Code, which governs historic preservation and architectural review in Sag Harbor. The village adopted its historic preservation law in the 1970s, which has protected Sag Harbor’s diverse historic places from demolition and redevelopment ever since. Historic preservation in Sag Harbor also benefits from village participation in the Certified Local Government (CLG) Program. The CLG Program is a federally sponsored initiative that offers participating local governments access to special preservation grants, services, and technical support from the New York State Historic Preservation Office. As of May 2021, the Village of Sag Harbor is one of only 10 CLGs in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Preservation Long Island’s Endangered Historic Places Program is made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.