By Literary Traveler
About 80 miles east of Manhattan you’ll find the North Fork of Long Island — a cozy retreat nestled alongside the Peconic Bay and the Long Island Sound. While it is not yet as well known as the nearby Hamptons, the area is becoming lauded for its wine, with over fifty vineyards located throughout the North Fork area. With nearby bay beaches, nature trails, an abundance of award-winning wine and a selection of farm stands brimming with local culinary treats, the North Fork is a quiet, country paradise teeming with experiences to indulge all of your senses.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing, romantic getaway or a home base from which to vineyard hop, consider the charming Jedediah Hawkins Inn. Now recognized for its historical value and luxurious accommodations, the property was once the residence of Jedediah Hawkins himself, a wealthy sea captain who began building the home in 1862. After he passed away, the house was sold and occupied for much of the twentieth century. However, it eventually fell into disrepair and was boarded up in the 1980s. Finally, the house was scheduled for demolition in 2004, but days before its demise, the property was acquired and planning for its restoration begun. Local contractor Jeff Hallock, a descendent of the Hallocks who originally settled the area, helped acquire the site in the eleventh hour, and was integral in the restoration of the property.
Now, 150 years after it was first erected, the house provides both entertainment and solitude for the many guests that enjoy this area each year.
Literary Traveler visited the North Fork in the mellow months of summer, winding our way past fields of local vegetables coming into season and vineyards full of ripening grapes almost ready to be harvested. As we first approached the Inn, we were taken by its dollhouse-like appearance bounded by lush manicured grounds. The classical style of the exterior had been restored and the house now stands proudly with vibrant trimmings and an inviting porch. During renovations, the restoration team maintained the Italianate style made popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. The shape of the home and its detail, including its classic belvedere, makes it an exquisitely constructed Victorian residence.
We were given a grand and leisurely tour of the property, guided by the warm and affable Pam Hunt, the great-granddaughter of Hawkins himself. She detailed that the property maintained much of the home’s original features, including the exposed brick of the Belvedere Suite, the banister for the main staircase, the original plaster moldings, and several of the fireplaces. A portrait that Jedediah Hawkins once had commissioned now finds its home over the front desk, greeting visitors alongside the charming staff.
Hunt and her family are local to the area and she recalls that at one time, “North Fork was the place where at 5 o’clock, it closed. There was nothing going on. Since the wineries came in, things started to change.” She laughs appreciatively at the North Fork’s increasing popularity: “Now it’s a destination… There are a lot of fun things to do all of the sudden on the north shore. When I was a kid, at five o’clock everybody went home and went to bed.”
During the restoration, each guestroom was given to a different designer who had complete creative control over the space. Each of the five guestrooms is now both unique and gorgeous, with a variety of themes and delicate touches. One room was decorated with suede walls, while another room maintained the home’s original floors, but stripped and stained them to match the contemporary décor. The rooms are each named, from the “Sage Room” to the “Rose Room,” and the sixth guestroom, a grand suite that takes up the entire top floor, is known as the Belvedere Suite. During Literary Traveler’s stay we were fortunate to have the opportunity to stay in this elaborate, rustic paradise. In creating the plan for the rooms, Hunt tells us that nothing was off limits to the designers, with each one designed completely independent of the others, making it a pleasant merging of classic architecture with modern design.
Breakfast at the Inn is a must, and we spent a sun-soaked morning sipping fresh coffee on the glassed-in patio, which boasts unmatched views of the grounds. The patio has built-in climate control, which makes taking in the views a treat regardless of the season. We dined on yogurt topped with lavender house-infused honey, and eggs with sun-dried tomato and fresh dill, as we gazed out upon a breezeway that gives guests a spectacular panorama of the property.
Later we had dinner in the Speakeasy, a cozy basement dining area, bar, and wine cellar that holds 2,500 bottles. In the wintertime the Speakeasy is often a venue for live music, making it a perfect way to warm up with a glass of wine or a cocktail. Pam tells us that the cellar contains the original field stone walls that had been in place since the 1800s; they held up so well that they did not need restoration, only a touch of cleaning. She tells us of a corridor that ends abruptly and seemingly leads nowhere, and mentions that people have, at times, supposed that this was a stop on the Underground Railroad. This assumption remains a mystery. The personable Chef, happy to chat about the fascinating property, similarly regaled us with tales of a friendly ghost who visits the Speakeasy from time to time.
Aside from the tailored rooms, guests are drawn to the beautiful scenery and laid-back atmosphere that surrounds the stunning property, nestled upon 22-acres of land. The prevailing wind during the summertime is a cool breeze that sweeps up from the bay and guests are encouraged to spend their time enjoying the enticing landscape at the Inn’s doorstep. The Inn also generously offers a multitude of accommodations for those who visit — an outdoor barbecue pit, a gazebo, a small gym with access to personal massage therapists, a shed full of bicycles ready to be used, and much more. Guests can enjoy intimate dinners, as well as cultural events, depending on their preference and the Inn’s schedule. Live bluegrass music can at times be heard, and the Inn hosts art exhibitions in the barn-turned-art-gallery located on the property.
It is no surprise that the restored property won the New York State Historic Preservation Award in 2008 – the first privately funded restoration to receive this honor. With so much to offer guests of all ages, this elegant and congenial property is a perfect choice for a relaxing and enjoyable retreat.
Reserve your own stay at Jedediah Hawkins Inn.
Watch the Literary Traveler Video of our Long Island adventure.
Read more about Long Island Culture and History by Literary Traveler:
“The North Fork is for Ladies — A Guide to the Grown-up Girls’ Weekend” By Antoinette Weil