There are myriad excellent reasons to visit Long Island’s North Fork: award-winning vineyards, picturesque nautical villages, pretty beaches, generally mellow vibe. For those seeking a laid-back yet luxurious place to stay or have a great meal in the area, the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport offers both, plus history, art and charm to spare. As general manager Colin Keillor points out, “Aside from the great location, it’s the most unique place on the North Fork that offers both accommodation and dining.”
First, there’s the house itself, an ornate Italianate mansion built by Captain Jedediah Hawkins in 1863, one of the area’s finest residences in those days. After falling into neglect and disrepair during the 20th century, it was eventually restored to its original splendor, reopening as a designer show-house in 2005 and winning a 2008 New York State Historic Preservation Award soon after. Each of the six guest rooms boasts a unique décor, with all featuring sumptuous fabrics, rustic fireplaces and local art works, in addition to other amenities. The spacious, romantic Belvedere Suite, reached by private staircase, is perfect for a wedding night, anniversary weekend or other special celebrations.
Unlike most bed and breakfasts, the inn has a restaurant on the premises, offering a three-course breakfast served by the staff, as well as dinner, featuring locally sourced food and wine pairings. Says Keillor, “A lot of people are drawn to that because they can have their fun – we’re right up from the beach – and they don’t have to worry about driving someplace for a meal.”
The inn’s grounds are equally delightful, with a lovely herb garden, original outbuildings, a barn (which hosts art shows) and gazebo, plus a perfect- for-lunch patio. Nearby attractions include the Great Peconic Bay’s beaches, numerous vineyards, farm stands and nature trails, all accessible via the Inn’s on-site bicycles.
Another unique facet of the inn is its rich history. Born in Stony Brook in 1837, Jedediah Hawkins went to sea at a very young age, before settling in Jamesport and building his house. One local legend claims that the former captain was an abolitionist and the house a stop on the Underground Railroad. Another allegation is that he was a gunrunner. There are trapdoors and secret passageways to support these theories, as well as a downstairs speakeasy, where guests can relax with a drink and soak up the house’s 150-year-old ambience.
According to Keillor, “Some say that Jedediah Hawkins was a smuggler – some say weapons, others say it was booze. There was an old tunnel that used to run off the premises; part of it still exists. The railroad runs right behind it, so maybe it was used to ship stuff out of the house.”
Drawn by its various attractions, many guests return again and again. “Several come three or four times a year; some spend holidays with us,” says Keillor. Unsurprisingly, it’s a very popular wedding location, with a staff that is happy to help with details. Though the inn and restaurant curtail their hours during the off-season, they’re open year round, providing an incredibly cozy destination in the winter (all those fireplaces!).
“It’s just a very friendly place,” Keillor sums up. Because of the restaurant and full-time staff, “We get to know our guests, which makes for a better experience for them. I think people feel at home when they come here.”
(400 S. Jamesport Ave., 631.722.2900)