The North Fork is seeped in history. From whaling in Greenport to farming in Riverhead, these 10 family-friendly historic buildings, museums and observatories bring the region’s agricultural and maritime past to life.
Hallockville Museum Farm
Hallockville Museum Farm is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the community’s agricultural heritage. Stop by to tour the museum, have a picnic and visit the farm animals. There are also educational classes, special events, fairs and festivals throughout the year.
6038 Sound Avenue, Riverhead
The Old House
Considered the oldest English-style medieval house in the state, this Cutchogue structure is believed to have been built around 1649. In 1962, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. The Old House’s hewn oak posts and beams, paneled partitions and a fluted chimney make it one of the finest surviving examples of 17th century architecture in the country.
The Village Green, Main Road, Cutchogue
The Custer Institute and Observatory
The institute is the oldest public observatory on Long Island. Every Saturday from dusk until midnight the volunteer staff gives guided tours of the facilities and the night sky with the help of its powerful telescopes. There are also frequent lectures, classes, concerts, art exhibits and other special events throughout the year.
1115 Main Bayview Road, Southold
Horton’s Point Lighthouse
This Southold landmark was commissioned in 1790 by George Washington — though it wasn’t constructed until 1857 — and is listed on both the national and state registers of historic places. Explore the nautical museum and visit the 58-foot tall tower for a panoramic view of the Long Island Sound and the surrounding park. Outside benches also make it a great spot for an afternoon picnic.
3575 Lighthouse Road, Southold
The Southold Historical Society Museum Complex
The Maple Lane complex is home to 11 historic buildings maintained by the Southold Historical Society. Walk the grounds to discover highlights such as The Thomas Moore House and the Ann Currie-Bell House, which is listed on the state and national registers of historic places.
55200 Route 25 (Main Road and Maple Lane), Southold
The Village Blacksmith Shop
This shop invites visitors inside to witness the ironwork that helped forge Greenport. The original building was destroyed by a nor’easter in 1992 and was replaced in the form of an old East Marion onion shack. The historically accurate replica was moved to the village in 1999. A blacksmith occasionally conducts demonstrations of iron working, creating hands-on experiences for children during the summer months.
Front Street, Greenport
The East End Seaport Museum
A nonprofit committed to preserving the rich maritime heritage of the East End, the waterfront museum boasts a 750-gallon saltwater aquarium, nautical exhibits and a gift shop. The organization also hosts educational programs, lighthouse tours and other special events.
Third Street, Greenport
The Village House in Orient
The Village House is the centerpiece of the Oysterponds Historical Society. The 1789 home originally served as a boarding house for visitors. It was enlarged in the 1850s, and today still welcomes guests to Orient. The upstairs bedrooms have been converted into exhibition galleries and there’s a shop with books about local history and items created on the North Fork.
1555 Village Lane, Orient
Sylvester Manor Educational Farm
The farm is a 243-acre historic plantation and nonprofit that works to engage the community through farm-based and cultural programs. The property was once a Native American hunting and fishing ground and has been home to 11 generations of its original European settler family since 1652. Today the Manor serves as part museum, part organic farm, offering workshops, concerts and other special events.
80 North Ferry Road, Shelter Island
William Havens built this Shelter Island farmhouse in 1743. Throughout the years, the building has also served as a store, tavern, school, post office and the town meeting hall. The Shelter Island Historical Society now maintains the property, which is on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places. The Havens House now showcases furnishings, textiles and decorative objects reflective of the years the original family occupied the house. A large barn built on the property in 1988 is also used to display collections, as well as space for special events.
16 South Ferry Road, Shelter Island