The Town of Riverhead is pleased to announce that it will be designating its first-ever heritage area called Bell Town on Saturday, May 21st at 10:00 a.m. The designation of Bell Town is intended to encourage an appreciation of the historic heritage of the area and the community.
Nearly 100 years ago, four African American brothers, Mansfield, Condry, Ezekiel and Melkiah Bell, migrated to the Township of Riverhead in Aquebogue, Long Island, New York from Powhatan, Virginia during the ‘Great Migration.’ They purchased 16 acres on the north side of Hubbard Avenue creating 32 residential lots that they sold to family and friends who also moved north from Virginia. The lots include what is now Bell Avenue, Hobson Drive and Zion Street.
The Bell brothers developed Bell Town into a ‘self-contained,’ predominantly African American and Native American area. Some compared it to the “Black Wall Street” era in Tulsa, OK as there were businesses developed by the people who lived in this area that provided commodities and services to the community of Riverhead and surrounding areas.
Marylin Banks-Winter, who is the granddaughter of brother Mansfield Bell, led the effort to designate the area along with Richard Wines, Chairman of the Town of Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission and Town Board liaison, Councilman Frank Beyrodt. Ms. Banks-Winter organized the event with a sign unveiling that the town has made to commemorate the heritage area with a ceremony. As this area is also considered Native American, included in the celebration will be a mixture of African American and Native American dedications in dance, song, drums, speeches and spoken word.
In attendance will be public officials including Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aquiar, who will serve as the Master of Ceremony, Councilman Tim Hubbard, Councilman Frank Beyrodt, Councilman Ken Rothwell and Councilman Bob Kern. Other elected officials who have confirmed their attendance to witness this historical event are Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Governor Kathy Hochul, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, NYS Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio as well as Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney and Suffolk County Deputy District Attorney Leslie Anderson.
All are welcome to participate in this historic community event. For more information, please contact Ray Coyne at (631) 727-5744 ext. 730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.