Sag Harbor's Foster Memorial Beach is favored by the summer beachgoers among the East End's nearby Sagaponack and Bridgehampton, as well.
Take a walk on any summer morning (especially this week with temperatures nearing 100°) and you will see why. There are nearly two miles of sandy beach that connect Noyac to North Haven and offer room for everyone. Kids and dogs alike can enjoy the gentle bay beach, a popular morning walking route, and an active spot just waiting for them to get their fill. That has been the case for years with successive families enjoying Foster Memorial Beach's food and camping activities.
All Foster Memorial Beach fans will be thrilled to know that the Sag Harbor Historical Society is hosting a series of events to explore the history of the popular bathing beach. In this exhibit, curators Jean Held and Dorothy Zaykowski take a comprehensive look at one of Sag Harbor’s favorite places to relax — from its earliest recorded history right up to kids zoning for blowfish with Al Daniels.
You can expect to see familiar names and faces (like Bucking, Edwards, Youngs, Liccardi and Mulvihill) as well as a few that have slipped into history. You'll be taken back to memories of the McNally's, the Noyac Casino, and the Shack — a beachside food stand where 14-year-old Vincent Alioto sold homemade ham sandwiches a few days earlier. It offers a look at history rife with intrigue and squabbles over property rights, as well as information about how the stretch of sand came to be a public beach.
On Foster Memorial Beach, residents once harvested eelgrass by the wagonful to insulate their houses, the Bliss Torpedo Company tested its product on residents in the years leading to World War I, and couples played beachside dances after World War II.
Several of the exhibits at the Sag Harbor Historical Society were inspired by Annie Cooper Boyd, the woman who once owned the historical society’s headquarters and painted many Sag Harbor scenes during the early 20th century, including Foster Memorial Beach where she enjoyed sailing and picnics with friends and family.
“Wickatuck” or “Weckatuck” as the American Indians called it, called it a natural spring, was located directly on Foster Memorial Beach. It has been alleged that the springs had healing powers. Those first settlers treasured the area.
There are many parallels between the past and the present in the exhibition, with Held pointing out that in 1888 the Foster Memorial Beach landowner Charles Lamont suffered similar controversies. The “newcomer” did not endear himself to his neighbors in the beginning just like now.
The road across Long Beach became the cheapest way to travel from Sag Harbor to North Haven once the North Haven toll bridge was built. The following statement is explained by Dr. Zaykowski. North Haven residents would tend to use the passing highway, otherwise known as the North Haven Bypass, as a means of getting into the village. Lamont, however, hated the idea of his road being used, so he blockaded the eastern end with boulders to prevent its use.