Living & Eating on Long Island's East End 

             Excursions:    A Southampton History Lesson

My name is Monique.
I'm a 2-time Emmy Award winning TV Producer.
Having been in the business for over 15 years I've produced my share of live tv cooking segments, but never had much time to devote to cooking myself.

Last year when I got married, I moved out of New York City to the east end of Long Island, to ...wait for it...The Hamptons.

Now before you roll your eyes, there's more to the Hamptons than mansions and celebrities.

The Hamptons have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, miles of productive farmland, plus a rich clamming history that continues to this day.

When I moved out east and realized I was surrounded, not just by the bounty of the sea, but also local farms and vineyards, I couldn't wait to explore and sample my new environment.

That's what this blog is about.  Cooking, living, exploring and sharing those experiences.

You'll notice that my blog is a little of this and a little of that, kind of like a potluck meal.

"The Hamptons". You know, swimming pools, movie stars. Everybody thinks they know the Hamptons, thanks to gossip columns and those magazines that only carry ads and pictures of anonymous people posing at someone else's party. Who are those people?

But I digress. The Hamptons are actually so much more and it's really a shame that most of the world only knows them as the playground of the rich.

The Hamptons are a group of villages and hamlets in the townships of Southampton and East Hampton, which form the South Fork of New York's Long Island. As one of the country's preeminent historical summer colonies, they are still a popular resort area for many, especially New York City residents, with some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

Southampton was settled in 1640 by a group of English Puritans, who sailed from Lynn, Masschusetts and landed at what is now known as Conscience Point.

Southampton is the oldest English settlement in the state of New York and is named after the English Earl of Southampton.

The Shinnecock Indians also call Southampton home. Their reservation, established in 1701, is considered the oldest Native American reservation in the United States. The Shinnecock tribe worked with the early settlers, sharing their knowledge of planting corn, digging clams and scallops from the area bays.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, fishing, farming and duck raising were the predominant industries of Southampton, until the 20th century, when the area began attracting wealthy families, artists and writers from the city.

                         Rogers Mansion Museum

An organization that is working hard to preserve this history is the Southampton Historical Society. With their museums and Research Center, the SHS is making sure that the South Shore's historic integrity doesn't disappear. The museum began as the Southampton Colonial Society in 1898 and was incorporated in 1910.

Initially the Society collected and exhibited historical artifacts related to the history of Southampton. Then in 1951 they began acquiring and preserving homes, beginning with the Rogers Mansion. After that they acquired the Thomas Halsey Homestead and the Elias Pelletreau Silver Shop, both properties built in the 1600s.

The Southampton Society now includes four historic properties; the Rogers Mansion Museum Complex, the Halsey House, Pelletreau Silver Shop, and Conscience Point, located on North Sea Road.

                                Old Southampton

The Rogers Mansion Museum Complex now encompasses 12 historic buildings. The main building is the mansion, which was built in 1843 and is filled with furnishings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

On the grounds is Old Southampton Village, recreated with historic structures that include a 19th century paint store, a blacksmith's shop, a cobbler's shop, a one-room schoolhouse and a colonial era barn that was used by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

                          One-Room School House

The Thomas Halsey Homestead is a rare first period house built in 1660. Halsey was one of the original families who bought property from the Shinnecocks in 1640. Filled with 17th and 18th century furnishings, donated by local families, it is believed to be the oldest English-style house in New York State.

The Pelletreau Silver Shop, located on Main Street, is the only trade shop built in the 1600s in America that has been in continuous use ever since. It was originally  a dry goods store. Purchased in 1717 by Francis Pelletreau it became a place for him to produce oils and candles from whales. With grandson Elias Pelleteau it became a silver shop that was handed down within the family. Today it is occupied by jeweler Eric Messin, who conducts tours and jewelry making workshops.

                       Elias Pelletreau Silver Shop

The Conscience Point Historic Site is adjacent to the Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge with 60 acres of maritime grasslands and miles of nature trails. A monument there pays respect to the pioneers who left Lynn, Massachusetts and landed there to establish Southampton.

           Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge

The museum is open year-round with constantly changing exhibits on local historic topics. There is also a research center along with education programs for children and adults. It has become one of my favorite places to visit when I'm in Southampton. It's like walking back in time right off the street to a quieter and more retrospective time perhaps. 

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