Bellport Academy Early Educational Institution

Footnotes to Long Island History

Bellport Academy Early Educational Institution



Thomas R. Bayles


       Caption:  Early Academy-The “Bellport Classical Institute,” or Bellport Academy, which was active as an educational institution in Brookhaven town a hundred years ago.  It was built in 1833 on Academy lane, Bellport.

          An education institution in Brookhaven town that was active a hundred years ago was the “Bellport Classical Institute” on Academy lane, in the village of Bellport, or Accumbonuck, as it had been known by the Indians.

          The Academy was built in 1833 by Isaac Hudson of Middle Island, whether with Clark Homan and Samuel Brown of Bellport and the Allan Brothers of Patchogue.  It was financed by a stock company formed by 33 farmers living as far east as Dr. Nathaniel Miller’s at Fire Place (Brookhaven), and out to Swan Creek in East Patchogue, who subscribed to shares in the building.  Bellport was at that time a small settlement of less than a dozen houses.  Isaac Hudson also built the Miller’s Place Academy in 1834, and the Middle Island Presbyterian church in 1837.

          The Academy was a two-story building with an extension on the rear, and during the 69 years it was in service, new floors were laid and the sills renewed.  Candles were used to light the building until about 1847, when kerosene lamps came into general use.  The rooms were heated with large wood burning stoves, and the first stove used was, in later years, in the possession of one of the old residents of Bellport, Charles S. Platt, in his carpenter shop on Academy lane.

          A Congregational church was organized in the early years and meetings were held in the Academy until 1850.  The minister’s salary was paid by subscription, and the sexton was paid $7 a year for making fires, lighting the rooms and ringing the bell.

          The extension on the building was used as a district school and the rest of the building as an academy which fitted young men and women of the surrounding villages, for college, Tuition was $10 for the summer quarter, and $11.25 for the winter quarter—the extra charge being for fuel.

          Among those who received their early education at the Academy was Dr. Edward R. Shaw, who for many years was professor of Pedagogy at New York university, where he established a scholarship for any Bellport boy wanting to take advantage of it.  Other prominent men included Augustus Floyd of Mastic, and Orville B. Ackerly, a local historian.

          Mr. Hinsdale was the first principal of the Academy, with Mr. Mills second, and Phineas Robinson third.  These men were also pastors of the Congregational Church society, at time they were principals, until the Presbyterian church was built in 1850.

          In 1845, the church had 35 members, and the Rev. Abijah Tomlinson of Litchfield; Conn., was pastor and also the fourth principal.  A. B. Firman was principal in the last year of the operation of the Academy building in 1902, after it had been acquired by School District No. 28.

          Pupils came from neighboring villages to secure the advantages of the educational instruction given at the Academy, and many of them boarded at Mrs. Amelia Bell’s residence, later known as the “Bell House.”  Mrs. Bell was the wife of Capt. Thomas Bell, who named and settled Bellport.

          A Union Free School District was organized in 1901, and a new schoolhouse built on Station road, so the old Academy, after serving the needs of Bellport for 69 years, gave way to the march of progress.  The next year it was sold to George Carman, who moved it diagonally across the street opposite the old Academy lane cemetery, and directly north of the old blacksmith shop, now gone.  Mr. Carman converted the building into a carpenter shop, and later it was purchased by the late Dr. T. Mortimer Lloyd, who moved the building several years later to a lot on the west side of Academy lane and put an addition on the north side, with a portico on the south side, and made it into a dwelling.  Dr. Lloyd’s widow now maintains it as her summer home.

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