On a trip to Nassau Point in Cutchogue, you instantly know you’ve entered a different part of the North Fork. Instead of the flat, marshy lands characteristic of the area, the road twists and turns around corners and over small slopes. The topography is different; countless of little hills texture the main road that eventually leads to a quiet, stony beach. Big mansions are separated by traditional colonial homes, and the street is mostly quiet with the exception of the many neighborhood people breathing in the fresh air while out on a walk.
“It’s a gem when it comes to beauty,” said longtime resident Dave Bergen
“It is so unique. The natural beauty of nassau point has been maintained over the years.”
The house that Bergen resides in with his wife is one that has been in his family for three generations before him. It was built by his great-grandmother in 1910, inherited by his grandfather, then his father and now him. His grandparents used it as their summer home, as did his father. Bergen has lived there full-time for 25 years now, but remembers visiting the house in the 1960s, when Nassau Point looked a little different.
“I remember the interior of [Nassau Point] as far less developed than it is now. It was a lot of woods,” he said. “Some freshwater ponds, an overnight camp with cabins. Most of the waterfront had been put together by then — a lot less houses and a lot more woods.”
Nassau Point has a unique and well-documented history. Albert Einstein spent summers renting a home, flirting with actress Luise Rainer, another frequent visitor at the time, so much that her playwright husband apparently cut him out of photos. Camp Wawokiye was opened up in the 1930s as a summer getaway for kids, complete with a recreation and arts and craft center. It closed in 1979. A small willow that was part of the set from the broadway musical “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” eventually made its way to the area and grew into a very large willow.
“I remember you could walk to the main road from Nassau Point and not see a car,” said builder Eugene Burger, who has lived in the community and built homes in the area in recent years. “Think about that. You go up there now, it’s like full-on summertime. Everyone’s walking and playing on the streets.”
Burger grew up in Nassau Point as a “summer kid,” spent 10 years on the property owner’s association board and has built what he estimates to be 35 to 40 houses in the area. Over his many years as a resident and someone who has literally had a hand in building Nassau Point, Burger said he has seen a change.
“It’s always been a little more high end of an area, but I notice a different feeling in some of the houses,” Burger said. “I’m starting to see people building contemporary houses, whereas it’s always been a very traditional type of place. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just happening.”
Cheryl Schneider, a realtor for Daniel Gale, has sold homes in the area. She said she sees a variety in the types of homes and the kinds of buyers moving into Nassau Point.
“Homes range from little seasonal cottages to very grand, five-plus bedroom homes with pools, tennis courts, and more,” she said. “Some buyers are purchasing just for the land, tearing down the previous structure, and building new.”
Schneider added that younger families are finding their way out there to set up retreats for themselves and generations to come.
“Years ago, there were very few people on the beach, even on the big summer holidays,” she said. “We have definitely seen an increase in attendance at all of the beaches and parks, with more and more people walking and jogging on Nassau Point Road, pushing baby carriages and walking dogs.”
Tom Uhlinger, of Douglas Elliman Real Esate, agrees.
“I’ve seen the buyers change, and I think their needs have changed,” he said. “There are a lot of green items and luxury amenities they would like to have in the house, like a media room.”
But for those who have grown up there and have fond memories of Nassau Point, the place still has that charming, neighborhood feel.
“The people have remained pretty much the same in that it’s a pretty friendly community. because there is the property owner’s association, it bonds people together,” Bergen said before joking that he is, however, one of the few residents doing his own landscaping.
Bergen hopes that as new people continue to move in, Nassau Point’s original allure stays intact.
“[I hope that] the people grow to love the natural beauty so that they don’t cut down all the trees in their yards, and they don’t clean out all the woods,” he said. “I hope that they maintain the design of the homes being traditional New England style homes.”
Nassau Point will continue to evolve as many places on the North Fork do, Burger said.
“It’s changed, and it’s going to continue to change,” he said. “But it’s just beautiful. All the nooks and crannies, the coves and the different creeks, the way they meander. It’s an absolutely unique place.”