Bexeidon Estates in Southold: A village that never was

Constance Riley in front of her mother's home on Rogers Road which was nicknamed the 'berry garden" house. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Constance Riley in front of her mother’s home on Rogers Road which was nicknamed the ‘berry garden” house. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

It’s easy to miss the quiet community of Beixedon Estates. Marked only by a green wooden sign at the entrance to Arshamomaque Avenue along Main Road in Southold, the private neighborhood is hidden beyond the tree line, still tucked away, an oasis set apart from any hustle and bustle — just as its founder intended nearly a century ago.

In 1921, Bennett de Beixedon purchased the 75-acre waterfront property, located about a mile east of Southold’s business center on Main Road.

According to a Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from June 30, 1935, Mr. Beixedon, then a wealthy banker from Brooklyn, bought the land to realize his dream of running a resort.

He started by opening Arshamomaque Inn, a three-story, 100-room hotel. He later built 20 “homelike modern cottages” along 1.5-miles of waterfront surrounding the inn, a peninsula-like piece of land that juts into the bay, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle article. The cottages were available as summer rentals for a going rate of anywhere from $350 to $600 per season, a 1930 advertisement for the resort community stated.

Arshamomaque Inn Southold. (Credit:Courtesy of Southold Historical Society)

Arshamomaque Inn Southold. (Credit:Courtesy of Southold Historical Society)

The warm summers were filled with dancing, music, swimming and boating, recalled Maureen Ostermann, who summered there when she was a child and now lives in Beixedon Estates.

“It was very family-friendly,” she said. “It was just ordinary people. There were a lot of kids.”

Each of the cottages had an its own name — such as the “Stone Chimney” house and the “Berry Garden” — and architectural style. Adding to their uniqueness, each had its own bell that chimed a different sound throughout the neighborhood. Mothers would often ring the bells to call their children back for dinner, said Joan Latham, who also summered in Beixedon as a child and lives in the community today.

“You knew what sound was yours,” she recalled with a smile.

Back then, however, it was strictly a summer community. None of the cottages had heat or insulation, Ostermann said.

“In September it all just closed for the season,” she said.

The 'stone chimney' house on Hippodrome Drive. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The ‘stone chimney’ house on Hippodrome Drive. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Still, it’s believed that Mr. Beixedon may have had bigger dreams for the property.

Even when he first purchased it in 1921, Mr. Beixedon dubbed the property “the Village of Beixedon.”

At one point, the area was even awarded a $100,000 federal grant to build a post office, which did get built, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle report states. Nonetheless, the Village of Beixedon was never incorporated or recognized by the state as a village, said Southold Historical Society director Geoffrey Fleming.

“It may have been his intention to establish [Beixedon] as a village,” he said. “But it never was.”

In its heyday, the water south of the property was known as Beixedon Harbor.

According to his obituary, published in The New York Times on  July 27, 1935, Mr. Beixedon was applauded by area residents for circumventing a U.S. War Department ruling by building a bridge over dry land and then digging a canal under it, instead of following the usual procedure of digging a canal and then obtaining permission to build a bridge.

Each year the harbor was home to approximately 40 privately owned party fishing boasts and many private yachts, the Daily Eagle reported.

A 1939 book about Southold Town describes Beixedon Village — which was given as much prominence in the book as East Marion — as “more popular and more attractive than any other community its size on Long Island.

The success which has visited the village year after year is a tribute to the planning and foresight of its founder, who picked as the site for his venture one of the most delightful shore spots in town.”

Following Mr. Beixedon’s death, his widow, Grace, inherited the 75 acres.

In 1941, however, the inn burned down and was never rebuilt. After that, the property was foreclosed on and sold off parcel by parcel at a 1946 auction attended by more than 800 people, according to a New York Times report.

Individuals and real estate agencies bought up the cottages and the auction netted a total of $166,000, the article stated.

A year later, the new private owners of the cottages banded together to form the Beixedon Estate Association, an incorporated homeowners group that still exists.

It was around that time that Ms. Latham’s and Ms. Ostermann’s families purchased their cottages on Orchard Street, where the women still reside today.

Over the years, the old post office eventually was converted into a single-family home and more houses were built on what had been vacant lots in the original Beixedon Estates.

Today there are 49 houses in the community, Ms. Ostermann said. Of the 20 original cottages, only one was torn down and rebuilt.

One of those houses belongs to Constance Riley. Ms. Riley’s mother purchased two of the Beixedon cottages on Rogers Road in the 1940s, she said. Although she grew up in Massachusetts, Ms. Riley she has fond memories of visiting Beixedon as a little girl. The family eventually sold one of the cottages and she now lives in the other year-round.

“It is a really nice neighborhood,” she said. “You can trust everyone. I love it here.”

Though it is no longer a commercial vacation destination, Beixedon never lost the charm that attracted people to the area when it was founded, Ms. Latham and Ms. Ostermann said.

Children still play in the quiet streets, boating is alive and well and the neighbors are well connected and committed to the community.

“It is a wonderful place,” Ms. Ostermann said.

cmurray@timesreivew.com