Sag Harbor's Eastville and SANS district will be featured in a stand-alone episode of Apple TV+'s "Home," returning for a second season Friday. This episode, the fifth, will be something of a departure for the Emmy Award-winning series: Instead of just a single home featured, both historic communities will share a close-up over the hourlong running time.
Eastville and SANS — Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, Ninevah Beach Subdivisions — are among the most culturally significant communities in the United States, where generations of Black Long Islanders have lived, many in Eastville back to the 18th and 19th centuries when Sag Harbor was a whaling community. Some of the homes in SANS were purchased by returning GIs after World War II, while a few were so modest that parts of them were purchased out of a Sears catalog.
But modest no more. As "Home" also explains, these are now particularly threatened by the East End development boom.
Brooke Williams, an Eastville resident whose family home is prominently featured, said in a phone interview that the episode "is really very accurate in terms of portraying the whole idea of community being a version of [one] home. The series is so much about specific houses [that] I really loved the idea of a home to mean an actual community."
These particular communities, which lie just to the east of Sag Harbor village, are portrayed here as serene outposts with house names like "Sundaze" and "Sweet Spot," accessorized with expansive views of Sag Harbor Bay and the Peconic River just beyond.
Or at least that's the outward appearance. Citing "demolition and intensive redevelopment," which have threatened one of Long Island's "most significant Jim Crow-and-Civil Rights historic districts," nonprofit Preservation Long Island put SANS on its 2021 most-endangered list. Since 2019, SANS has been on both the state and National Register of Historic Places, but Preservation Long Island and others have also sought designation as a local historic district — which would place additional constraints on development.
Meanwhile, the Williams home would appear to stand as a bulwark against this rising tide. Brooke's father, E.T. Williams Jr., has been coming here nearly 80 years, or just after his own father bought another home next door in 1933 (in the episode, he and Brooke refer to the group of adjoining homes as a family "compound"). The house was built in 1830 and the Williamses explained that they are only the third African American family of "free ancestry" to have owned it.
Brooke Williams said "all of the Hamptons is in a building craze, and Sag Harbor is no exception. But there are a lot of people in the Sag Harbor community who are putting a lot of energy into trying to curb it and also trying to be reasonable. It's not that people are against anyone making home improvements, but there's a difference between home improvement and knocking down a house and building one that goes from one edge of the property line to the next."
While "there's more to be done" in terms of strengthened preservation measures," Williams added that "we are on the road" there.