Long Island Traditions has announce that bay house tours will be resuming in 2021 with tours on August 28th and September 12th. These 12-person tours provide an opportunity to visit Long Island’s historic bay houses and hear stories directly from their owners.
In the Town of Hempstead 30 bay houses once stood on island marshlands, originally built by fishermen and baymen as fishing and hunting shacks. These houses have been passed down from generation to generation, and cared for by their owners. After the devastation of Superstorm Sandy only 14 remained, with many damaged. The owners have been repairing their historic houses, now considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The bay houses are inaccessible by land and can only be accessed via water.
Each bay house tour visits two surviving bay houses via a small boat, where participants will get to go inside and hear tales from their owners. Participants must be able to climb ladders and feel comfortable in a work environment.
Long Island Traditions’ Director, Nancy Solomon, has been documenting these rare places since the 1980s, and her book on the topic, On the Bay (Long Island Traditions, 2011), explores the traditional lifestyle of present-day bay house dwellers, whose families have harvested these waters for more than three centuries. She began offering bay house tours in 1988 as a way of clearing up misconceptions about the houses, and to share the trials and joys of being a bay house owner with the public.
Two days of tours are scheduled, with two tours per day. Tours can only take place during high tide, otherwise the boat could get stuck. Tours will leave from Freeport at 11 am and 1 pm, and will last 1.5 hours.
For more information or to make a reservation call Long Island Traditions at (516) 767-8803 or visit their website.
Photo of McNeece bay house courtesy Long Island Traditions.