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Bellport Village

Suffolk County, New York

Bellport Village Hall is located at 29 Bellport Lane, Bellport NY 11713.
Phone: 631‑286‑0327.

Bellport Historic District [1]

The Bellport Village Historic District includes buildings which line sections of South Country Road, Bellport Lane (which leads to the village waterfront park and dock), Bell Street, Brewster and Brown's Lanes. The district is primarily residential in character and contains few non-contributing structures. It surrounds Bellport's modern, compact central business district on three sides. The district's outermost boundaries end where modern, twentieth-century construction begins.

Bellport ... includes a large, architecturally significant residential district and the historically significant Bellport Academy. Bellport was settled during the 17th century and remained undeveloped through the 18th century. In the 1820's, ship building and fishing became major local industries, and the rural settlement grew into a small but thriving seaport community. By the 1850's, Bellport developed into a popular south shore summer resort. The Bellport Village Historic District represents both aspects of village growth. Its numerous early 19th century residences recall earlier seafaring days, and subsequent building reflects its popularity as a 19th and early 20th century summer retreat. The Bellport Academy was built in 1833, the village's first school. Although remodeled in 1919, the Academy is a well-recognized local landmark which played an important role in Bellport's development. The Bellport Village Historic District and the Bellport Academy represent some of the village's most important links with its 19th-century past.

During the 17th century, the land which Bellport now occupies was part of the vast Jonathan Rose Farm. Rose was a cooper, and offshore whaling attracted him to the area where he built barrels for shipment of whale oil to New York City. In the early 18th century, the Rose family moved to upstate New York and their land was divided and sold to several individual farmers. Bellport remained rural and undeveloped through the 18th century.

Thomas Bell, village namesake and sea captain, came to Bellport in the 1820's. Thomas and his brother John built a small dock into Great South Bay and established a shipping business. Later, they built a ship-yard and Bellport became a small, busy seaport community. The local population grew and its need for housing increased. The Bells bought open land for development and, in 1833, Dock Road (Bellport Lane) was opened for building construction. Cross Streets were also opened and the village continued to expand.

An 1837 winter storm ended Bellport's future as a busy seaport when the nearby inlet through Fire Island filled-in with sand. The long and narrow south shore barrier beach has always been unpredictable; inlets have opened and closed on numerous occasions.

In the 1850's, Bellport became a popular summer resort. Like so many south shore communities of the period, the village's waterfront location and proximity to New York City made it an ideal vacation retreat. The first summer visitors stayed at hotels, guest houses, and rented private residences. During the late 19th and early 20th century, many (vacation) houses were constructed and earlier buildings were converted for summer use. The building of fishing and pleasure boats remained an important local industry until the early 20th century.

The well-preserved residences which comprise Bellport's Village Historic District represent the village's early settlement, its development as an seaport community, and its popularity as a summer resort. The district's most significant buildings are situated on Bellport Lane and South Country Road. The more modest middle-income houses line Bell Street and Brown's Lane.

The Bellport Academy was the first school in the village, built by local residents in 1833. It offered co-educational high school courses, and attracted students from far beyond the small village. The Academy also housed the village's first place of worship. In 1901, a new school building was constructed and the Academy closed. In 1902, the Academy was moved from one side of Academy Lane to the other, and used as a carpenter shop. In 1919, the Academy was moved back across the street and converted into a private house. W. Granville Smith, a local architect, supervised the building's conversion. Although the Academy has housed a variety of uses, today it remains a well-preserved single family residence. It is a widely recognized local landmark, and figures prominently in Bellport's settlement and subsequent growth.

  1. O'Brien, Austin, Multiple Resources of the Village of Bellport (part one), 1980, nomination document, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.