June 17, 2019

Gillibrand Calls For Sans Historic District in Suffolk County to Be Placed On the National Register of Historic Places

Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach Subdivisions (SANS) Communities Are One of the Last African American Beachfront Communities in the United States; Inclusion of Iconic Historic District on National Register of Historic Places Would Help Protect Rich History of SANS Communities

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called on the National Park Service to place the Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach Subdivisions (SANS) Historic District in Suffolk County on the National Register of Historic Places. The SANS neighborhoods were among the very few beach communities on the East Coast founded by African Americans, and are one of the last African American beachfront communities remaining in the United States. Founded following World War II, the SANS communities served primarily as a summer retreat for middle-class African American families during the Post-WWII and Jim Crow era. The SANS communities feature historic properties that were developed by African Americans, including architect Amaza Lee Meredith, one of the first professional African-American women architects. The requested designation would expand opportunities for federal historic tax credits and other resources to help preserve the SANS Historic District.

“The Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach communities thrived as safe havens and retreats for African American families during a time of institutionalized racism, when African American families were excluded from so many other places. As one of the last remaining African American beachfront communities in the country, the SANS Historic District holds important historic value that must be protected,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Today, I am calling on the National Park Service to place the SANS Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, which would provide federal recognition and open up opportunity to secure resources to help preserve the legacy of these rich, iconic neighborhoods for generations to come.”

Increasing property values throughout Sag Harbor and the East End of Long Island have led to increased development in the area. This new development threatens to undermine the historical character of the community, displace residents, and prevent the continued discovery of historically significant locations. Placement on the National Register would create awareness of the historical significance of the SANS communities, helping to ensure the continued protection of these areas.

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter can be found here and below:

June 17, 2019

The Honorable David Bernhardt

Secretary of the Interior

United States Department of the Interior

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240

Dear Secretary Bernhardt,

            I write in support of the nomination of Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah Beach Subdivisions (SANS) Historic District in Suffolk County, New York to be placed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. This designation will create awareness of the historical significance of these communities, as well as ensure the continued protection of these areas.

Founded following World War II, these communities have for generations offered a diverse community for all races to live and vacation, serving particularly as a summer retreat for middle-class African-American families. These communities were among the very few beach communities on the East Coast founded by African-Americans, and the SANS communities have continued to attract African-Americans and others from all backgrounds to spend summers. The area features historic properties developed by African Americans, including architect Amaza Lee Meredith, one of the first professional African-American women architects, who built at least two homes in Azurest, including one that she called her own, during the summer months.

The requested designation will protect the modest mid-century residences that have come to define the character and heritage of the SANS communities. Increasing property values throughout Sag Harbor and the East End of Long Island have led to increased development in the area. This new development threatens to undermine the historical character of the community, displace residents, and prevent the continued discovery of historically significant locations. As one of the very first professional African-American women architects, any remaining examples of Meredith’s designs would be extremely significant. As unique communities that developed and thrived in an era of institutionalized racism, these areas should be recognized, celebrated, and protected.

I ask that you please give this application your full consideration. If you have any questions, or desire further information, please do not hesitate to contact my staff member, Dominic Sanchez, at (202) 224-4451.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator