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Flanders Village Historical Society

The Flanders Village Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) organization, which generally meets monthly. It was founded in 2008, by Gary Cobb, for the purpose of promoting an understanding and appreciation of the historical and cultural heritage of the Flanders community, and the surrounding area, thereby restoring a sense of place amongst the residents and filling a void in the preservation of local history. Through this website and other means, the society provides a portal to the 350 years of fascinating history that has defined the Flanders community.

Flanders Village

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Although never incorporated as such the term "Village" was commonly used during the 19th and early 20th century when referring to that portion of the present-day Southampton, New York, hamlet of Flanders that lies along State Route 24 between Chauncey Road and the eastern shore of Goose Creek.
 
  • In an undated photo "The Big Duck" keeps a watchful eye on the western approach to the old "Village of Flanders".

The Blue Barn

Shortly after the organization was founded, the Flanders Village Historical Society embarked on a mission to preserve The Blue Barn at 949 Flanders Road, which is just west of The Big Duck. It was subsequently recognized as a Town Landmark and FVHS was appointed steward. 

The Blue Barn is a mid-19th century carriage barn that was acquired by the Town of Southampton, with community preservation funds, from the Mildred Klokis family in 2010. The Blue Barn is situated on property that had been the site of a popular turn of the century 25-room summer hotel, known as "Havens House", that was destroyed by fire in 1924. The exterior of the structure was renovated in the 1970s to facilitate its use as an antiques shop, which Mildred lovingly operated for a period of thirty years. 

Survivors

The hey days for the old village roughly coincided with the "Boardinghouse Era" (1870-1920) when nearly a dozen summer hotels and boardinghouses, all catering to the flourishing stage and carriage trades, joined the well-appointed homes and "cottages" that had been built along the wide "Main Street" that is known today as Flanders Road. In 1891, the bucolic village became the headquarters of the newly formed and very exclusive Flanders Club, a sportsmen's club, whose membership, comprised of wealthy NYC businessmen, would eventually control 10,000 acres of marsh and upland in the vicinity of Flanders.

The Great Depression of the 1930s marked the end of a period of prosperity in Flanders that had lasted for more than a century. One by one the hotels and boarding houses fell into disrepair and were demolished or lost to fire. We are fortunate, however, that many of the old places have managed to survive to remind us of our community's fascinating history. 

A Brief Historical Sketch of Flanders

The "place name" used by Eastern Long Island's Algonquian natives when referring to the lands that included the present-day Southampton Town hamlet of Flanders was "Akkobauk". Akkobauk, or any one of several spelling variations of that name, including Accabog, Acabog and Ocabauk, translates roughly to "lands at the head of the bay" or "cove place". This area encompassed a large tract of marsh and upland located on both the North and South Forks of the island which are separated by the Peconic River and estuary.
  The Algonquian natives had inhabited Akkobauk for at least 8,000 years prior to Southold Town's purchase of a majority of the area, including what would later become Flanders, from the North Fork's natives in 1648. Southampton Town would later (1659) purchase the Flanders section from ancestors of the Shinnecock Nation, sparking a legal battle that would not be completely settled, in Southampton's favor, until 1686.

Salt Hay and Cordwood

The Southampton section continued to be referred to as Accabog until the later part of the 18th century when the area adopted the name Flanders from the European region of the same name which is located in the southern lowlands of Belgium.

The century immediately following the purchase saw little in the way of development in the area known today as Flanders. Remotely located from the more densely populated villages scattered along the shores of both forks, Flanders remained little more than a sparsely populated source of valuable natural resources. Salt hay, with a variety of uses including feed, bedding and insulation, was the first resource targeted by the early settlers and it was utilized well into the 20th century.

Being ideally situated at the intersection of the "barrens" and the bays, early Flanders settlers were quick to establish themselves in the wood industry and several generations of their descendants would find their fortunes in the harvesting and shipment of cordwood. The majority of the pitch pine harvested from the pine barrens that surround Flanders was hauled down to the landing near present day Bay Avenue and loaded onto sailing vessels bound for the brick kilns of coastal Connecticut. Long Island's cordwood industry remained lucrative until the close of the Civil War when it then became necessary, due to over harvesting, to import wood from elsewhere.

A Village Is Born

The end of The War for Independence, and the restructuring that soon followed, marked the beginning of a century long period of growth and prosperity for the tiny settlement that became known as Flanders. In 1794 the section of today's Flanders Road that runs between Peconic Avenue, near Riverhead, and Pleasure Drive, in Flanders, was included as a part of Suffolk County's first postal route. The first Flanders post office was established in 1834, a Congregational Church (today's Flanders United Methodist) soon followed in 1840 and a schoolhouse was built in 1858.

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