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Jul 15, 2009 1:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Historical Society unveils heritage area plaques

Jul 15, 2009 1:56 PM

Quogue residents might be surprised to find a new sign in their village this week, one denoting a designated heritage area that runs along Quogue Street and a portion of Beach Lane that was recently approved by the Village Board.

The marker, which is near the western intersection of Quogue Street and Montauk Highway, was installed last Thursday, July 9, thanks to efforts of the Quogue Village Historical Society. The sign, which cost about $1,000, was purposely installed just prior to the village’s three-day, 350th anniversary celebration scheduled for this weekend.

The sign unveiling, it turns out, was bittersweet for Historical Society members after they discovered early Sunday morning that two additional heritage area signs—one on Beach Lane and a second on the eastern end of Quogue Street—were dug up by vandals and damaged. Those signs were also installed last week by village employees.

“We’re very distressed,” said Historical Society member and heritage area advocate Dick Gardner.

Mr. Gardner said the Beach Lane sign should be replaced before this weekend’s festivities. But the sign that stood near the eastern end of Quogue Street is still missing and Quogue Village Police are investigating.

Historical Society members said they chose Quogue Street and Beach Lane as the first heritage area because those are the oldest roads in the village. Both roads, which predate Montauk Highway, were used to lead livestock to grazing pastures and provided access to the ocean during the 17th and 18th centuries.

“They were there before there were people living in Quogue,” Mr. Gardner said.

Unlike a historic district, a heritage area places no restrictions on properties and is instead intended to highlight a hamlet’s or village’s rich heritage. Quogue Village has, on two occasions since 1981, rejected plans to create a historic district in the municipality, a zone that would prohibit property owners from making significant modifications to their houses in order to preserve their historical integrity.

Though they come with no protection power, heritage areas have value in that they recognize historic parts of communities, according to Historical Society members. Similar heritage areas have already been created in Eastport, Quiogue and Water Mill by Southampton Town.

“We think it’s important that we create a designation that would not be legally binding, but would honor our heritage,” said Quogue Historical Society board member Melissa Cook, who helped spearhead the effort in the village.

Quogue Street and Beach Lane, which were both collectively known as Quogue Road during the village’s earliest days and shaped like a Y, once extended all the way south to the crest of the dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, according to Mr. Gardner. The western arm of the “Y” extended to what is now known as Quiogue and the eastern arm extended to what is now Hampton Bays.

Quogue provided the only direct access to the beach between Rockaway and Southampton, via Beach Lane, prior to the construction of the Quogue Canal in 1896, according to “Heritage Road,” a booklet penned by Ms. Cook, Mr. Gardner and Quogue Village Historian Frances Ryan. When the canal was dug it created a barrier between the Quogue mainland and what is now known as Dune Road; the canal also connected Quantuck and Shinnecock bays.

Today, Quogue Street remains the village’s main road where many historical homes, such as the Jessup and Foster homesteads, still stand.

The three historical markers were cast by Catskill Casting, a historical marker manufacturer based in Bloomville, New York. Altogether, the signs cost just under $3,000, an expense that was split between the Historical Society and Quogue Village.

Mr. Gardner said she initially approached the Village Board to discuss the heritage area in October of last year, with the hopes of having the markers installed before Quogue’s 350th anniversary celebration.

“It’s part of an ongoing effort by the Historical Society to make Quogue’s 350-year history better known to the residents,” he said.

As part of those efforts, the organization also recently began offering plaques to residents living in Quogue’s oldest homes. Historical Society members noted that like the heritage area, the plaques place no restrictions on how homeowners can modify the exteriors of their homes.

Quogue Village Mayor George Motz said he was pleased with the steps that the Historical Society has taken to educate residents on the village’s history and remains hopeful that, as a result of those endeavors, residents are less likely to alter the character of Quogue.

“People moving into the village for the first time, they want that,” Mayor Motz said, referring to the village’s tranquil atmosphere.

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By The Real World (368), southampton on Jul 20, 09 4:30 PM
Sounds great to be historically recognizing these areas.
My family home during the 40's and 50's was "Meadowpink" on Beach Lane and "Wunnegin" on Club Lane, built by my Grandparents Dr & mrs JGW Greeff

Lee Greeff Swift
By swiftly (5), Hancock, Me. on Jul 24, 09 7:03 AM