Walk trough park.

Source: Iconic / Getty

Last month, we reported on 19 families who bought 97 acres of land in ‘Freedom,’ Georgia in an effort to give Black folks a safe place to live.

Now, the New York Times is highlighting another haven for Black families, conceived by two sisters, located in Long Island, and dating back to the late 1930s…

“In 1939, Terry, 52 at the time, and Meredith, 44, brokered a deal: They promised to find buyers for the 70 parcels that the Gales had platted, most of which were 50 by 100 to 125 feet, recruiting Black families and friends, many of them from Brooklyn, to move in. In doing so, they created not only the oldest historically Black subdivision in Sag Harbor but one of the most enduring Black beachfront communities in America, alongside Highland Beach in Maryland, which was founded in 1893 by Charles Remond Douglass, a son of the abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where prominent people — including the Obamas — have vacationed since the turn of the 20th century. In honor of the vision the sisters had, they named their new community Azurest: a ‘heavenly peace, blue rest, blue haven,’ as Meredith wrote in her sister’s eulogy,” the NYTimes writes.

At the time, Black people could buy land there for $700 to $1000 (~$13,000 to $18,500 currently). Not long after Terry and Meredith made their deal, the Gales entered another with two friends…

“In 1947, the Gales cordoned off 200 more lots to create a second section, under the same terms offered for the first: Working with two friends — Dorothy Spaulding, a lawyer, and James Smith, a civil engineer — the sisters created contracts and bylaws that deterred white people from intruding, not that the wetlands were that desirable to them once Black families started arriving. The four partners soon established the Azurest Syndicate, incorporating themselves as a financial institution that helped sell the land at a profit to cover their 10-year mortgage with the Gales, which was paid off in 1962.”

Currently, there are nearly 200 buildings in the subdivisions…

All told, there are 195 buildings in the subdivisions — which, alongside several other sites and structures, collectively go by the acronym SANS — all erected before circa 1977 across the 154 acres that lie north of Sag Harbor village’s Hampton Street, which still divides the predominantly white community from the historic Black one. Most of these houses reflect the dominant architectural styles from the eras in which they were built: They’re single-story, traditional ranch-style, saltbox or midcentury-modern wood-frame homes that the residents often designed themselves, creating variation from street to street, though some of them share the same gray, sea-weathered shingle or clapboard exteriors.

The subdivisions have been given landmark status and many of the residents are hoping they’ll also be named a historic district, with the purpose of protecting the “area’s character and culture and limit renovation in the area.” Read the full profile on Sag Harbor here. May Terry and Meredith rest in peace.

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