BAYPORT, NEW YORK
Bayport, situated on the Great South Bay, was the south easterly part
of the William Nicoll Grant of 1697. The east line was Namkee Creek,
which separated the Nicoll Grant from the Brookhaven Grant. The west
line is Brown's River and the San Souci Lakes. It was not until 1791
that the first sales from the Nicoll Grant were made, when a commission
appointed by the state sold parcels to pay off the Nicoll debts. There
seem to have been a few homes in the area but they must have been
renters or squatters.
The land was sold in long strips about 500 feet wide and extending for
about one mile from the Great South Bay to the South Country Road (now
Montauk Highway). Farmhouses were built more or less in a row through
the middle of the farms. A large number of these farmhouses still stand
today dating back from 1800 to 1860.
In 1834 a road was built through the middle of the farms from Sayville
to Blue Point connecting the farmhouses, and was called Middle Road. In
fact, the community was called Middle Road Village for a while, then
became called Southport. It turned out that there was another village
upstate called Southport, so when the Post Office was set up in 1858,
the name was changed to Bayport. The present Post Office was built in
The railroad came to Bayport in 1869 and a man named William B. Arthur
moved a house from Blue Point Avenue to the east side of Bayport
Avenue, across from the Railroad Station, and he became Post Master and
Station Agent. The house stands today in the same location. The
original station was the building that is now The Bayport House
Restaurante. In 1904 a new station was erected at Snedecor Avenue, but
this station was torn down in 1963 and not replaced.
The first store on Main Street (Middle Road) was opened by Warren
Hawkins in 1860. It was bought by Isaac Snedecor in 1867, a retired
sea-captain. It was later operated by Isaac Snedecor and Sons, then by
Antos Brothers, then by Mr. Prall, then by Arthur Shand. Today the
store is called Little Albert's, but many people still call it Shands
because of Arthur Shand and his family's ownership of the store for
almost 60 years.
The first schoolhouse was a small one room building which stood on the
north side of Main Street, where the old firehouse was later erected.
The date was about 1810. In 1814, at the close of the War of 1812, a
young naval officer named Lieutenant Burrill, jumped overboard from one
of the British frigates that had been stationed in Garners Bay, and
swam ashore. He started making his way to New York City. Halfway there
he came upon the village of Bayport and found that they were looking
for a school teacher. He became the first schoolteacher in Bayport and
remained for thirty years.
The first school house burned down in 1825 and another was built on the
east corner of Main Street and Bayport Avenue, where Mantha's garage
was later located. In 1870 a larger two story school was built on
Middle Road at what is now Connetquot Avenue. In 1893 a fourth school
was erected on the east side of Snedecor Avenue. It was a large modern
school. This school burned on February 3, 1926. School was temporarily
held in the large White House on the bay, until the new brick school
could be built on Snedecor Avenue. In 1952 the Bayport and Blue Point
school districts were consolidated. There is now a Senior High School,
a Middle School, and three elementary schools in the district.
The Bayport Fire Department was organized August 15, 1891 with 18
members. Charles R. Post was made Chief. A plot of land on the north
side of Middle Road, next to Shands (Little Albert's) was purchased
from I. S. Snedecor for $500 and a Fire House built for $3000. There
was a belfry but this was removed in 1941. This building was sold to
Shand and a new Fire House was built on Snedecor Avenue and Railroad
Street in 1956. In 1896 they bought a hook and ladder truck so heavy
that there were not enough members to pull it to the fire.
The Methodist Church was completed in 1874 on the south side of Middle
Road. It is the only church in Bayport. The first pastor was a Mr.
Kristeller, a converted Jew. A large addition to the Church building
was added on the west side in 1963.
One of the oldest taverns in Suffolk County was the Manhattan House on
the north side of Middle Road just west of the old Fire House. It was
built in 1847. It burned in 1963.
The early residents of Bayport made their living from the bay. There
were oyster houses on the bay west of Seaman Avenue. The oyster
business was badly damaged by the hurricane of 1938. The last of the
oyster houses owned by the Rogers family was closed in 1940. In 1870
there was a fish factory on the bay, near Gillette shipyard on the bay
operated by Captain Smith Rogers. Brown's River was named for the
Edmund Brown family (1851-1930) who had an oyster and clam business on
the bay at Brown's River.
Later many "worked under glass" in the large commercial greenhouses
erected in the Bayport area, most of them built in the period between
1890 and 1930. The most important were roses, carnations, and
chrysanthemums. They had an annual export value of about $1,500,000
each year. Many of the greenhouses are still in operation.
In 1910 the old street car line in Sayville, was extended down Middle Road through Bayport, up
Oakwood Avenue, east along Railroad Street, to Blue Point Avenue, thence up to Montauk Highway to Patchogue.
As mentioned before, there were no sales in Bayport made by the Nicoll
Estate until after the Revolution. Between 1790 and 1850 most of
Bayport was sold and many of those original families survive in the
area today. Names still familiar today are Gillette, Smith, Overton,
Hawkins, Homan, Brown, Snedecor, Terry, Howell, McConnell, Seaman,
Steins, Lane, Pell, and Hicks. So far as we know the oldest home in the
area standing today was built by Zebulon Gillette in 1796. Another home
still standing also built by Zebulon Gillette is just across the
Brookhaven line east of Namkee Creek, built in 1812, and later sold by
Mr. Gillette to Joseph Avery.
About 1890 many of the old farms gave way to handsome summer estates
between Middle Road and the bay. Regis Post, Governor of Puerto Rico on
Ocean Avenue; Julius Liebman, the brewer, on Suydam Lane; Robert
Roosevelt, minister to the Netherlands, appointed in 1880 by President
Cleveland, on Brown's River, on land purchased from the Lane family in
1873; John Delaney, New York Transit Commissioner, on Fairview Avenue;
William H. Todd, ship builder, on Middle Road; John R. Suydam, who came
to Bayport in 1855, had an estate called "Edgewater" on the bay, and
was a minor founder of St. Barnabus Mission in 1866 (now St. Ann's
Church); John McConnell came to Bayport in 1870 and purchased all the
63 acres from Middle Road to the Long Island Railroad along what is now
McConnell Avenue, which is named after him. His daughter, Jennie
McConnell married Faank Melville, a shoe manufacturer. They built a
home in 1873 at #395 Middle Road, and were the parents of Ward Melville
of Stony Brook fame.
A girl scout camp called Camp Edey has been located for many years on
the east side of San Souci Lakes, on Lakeview Avenue. Many years ago
these lakes were known as the "cranberry marshes" because cranberries
for the market were grown there. In the winter ice was cut there to be
stored for the summer.
North of Montauk Highway the Nicoll estate had sold the land in 50 acre
tracts. Among the purchasers were Whitman Overton, Wallace Overton,
Edward S. Gillette, Warren Hawkins and Daniel Howell.
Probably no other community in Suffolk County has as many old homes
dating back well over a hundred years as the village of Bayport. Many
of the homes along Middle Road date back over 150 years. The Clark
Smith farmhouse on the northeast corner of Fairview Avenue was built
around 1800. Lawrence Edwards came from the island of Barbados and
bought a farmhouse where the Parmentier nursery is located today. In
1834 he built the three homes on the north side of Middle Road in later
years occupied by Miles, Chidester and Alvarez. Carmen Seaman built the
farmhouse on the southeast corner of Seaman Avenue about 1810. Seaman
Avenue is named after him.