May 24, 2006

Bridgehampton Three And A Half Centuries In The Making

After 350 years, Bridgehampton is ready to party. Marking this impressive birthday, the hamlet has a bevy of events planned over the next few months to commemorate its history . . . Bridgehampton style.

Anne Sandford is at the helm of this almost four-month long soiree, having spent about a year planning for it. The inaugurating affair will happen next Monday with a Memorial Day ceremony at the Founders' Monument at 9:30 a.m.

The crux of the celebration, however, will be the anniversary parade on June 17, sponsored by the Bridgehampton Fire Department. Local organizations and fire departments, school bands, antique fire engines, floats and marching groups will be strolling down Ocean Road and Montauk Highway between 10-11:30 a.m., past a dignitary-manned reviewing stand.

The fire department will host a pancake breakfast and parade fundraiser this Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.

From June to September, several events will be presented by the Madoo Conservancy, the Bridge Hampton Historical Society, and Group for the South Fork. Bridgehampton School will offer dance and music aficionados the annual Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival's outdoor concert in July.

Bridgehampton has a number of historical landmarks, perhaps the Founders' Monument rising proudly in the middle of Montauk Highway most noticeable among them. First displayed as part of the hamlet's 250th anniversary celebration, the monument pays tribute to the descendents of Bridgehampton residents who died in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and War of 1812.

Built in 1820 in Sag Harbor, the Beebe Windmill is another historic landmark that has etched its frame into the hamlet's history. In 1837, it was moved to its current location on the corner of Ocean Road and Hildreth Avenue. It is one of the 11 surviving windmills built on eastern Long Island between 1795 and 1820.

The Corwith House, built in 1840, which is now home to the Bridge Hampton Historical Society, is another stop on the historic path.

The hamlet's name refers to a bridge that crosses over Sagg Pond on Bridge Lane, connecting Sagaponack with Mecox. The street that crossed the bridge was named Bridge Street, which eventually led to the naming of Bridgehampton. In 1686, Southampton Town hired Ezekial Sandford (Anne Sandford is his ninth generation descendent) to build it, and the original bridge withstood the elements for almost 100 years.

For Sandford, the goal of the celebration is to give everyone a sense of the hamlet's rich history and a new appreciation for its importance on the East End.

"I think that it's a community that's had a very long history, three and half centuries, and [they should] think about the nature of our community," she said. "Today, are we still going in the right direction? Will we be celebrated in another 50 years? It's good to have perspective on the past."

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