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 Helen Keller & Southold  

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~ Helen Keller & Southold ~

Helen Keller (1880-1968), the noted political activist and educator, was a resident in Southold during the summer of 1936.  It was here, along the shores of Cedar Beach, that Keller spent her last days with her long time companion, Anne Macy Sullivan (1886-1936).

The Keller House at Cedar Beach, c. 1940s.  Courtesy of Maryann Sewell and Ian Toy.

Local newspapers reported on their arrival in Southold, and the preparations made at the Tubor-style home they rented near Cedar Beach, located in Bayview, south of Southold village.  One the special accommodations made was the installation of a rope that could guide Helen Keller to the water and back to the house without assistance.

After becoming ill, Anne Sullivan was taken by ambulance to Easten Long Island Hospital, located in Greenport, New York.  There she remained while Helen Keller continued her vacation near Cedar Beach.  Eventually, as it became clear she was not improving, Anne Sullivan was transferred to New York City where she fell into a coma and died.

The home they occupied during that last summer is today (2010) in poor condition.  Currently, it is threatened with demolition by Suffolk County, who seized the property from its rightful owners in the late 1960s. 

This, along with other land seizures, were common at the time as the County attempted to improve its holdings of Parkland through the "acquisition" of lots they identified as worthwhile.  Another of these seizures in Southold Town was the famous "Pinecrest Dunes," a private boys and girls camp on Great Pond and Long Island Sound.

Local resident Ian Toy is leading the fight to save the house for future generations.  For more on the fight to save the Helen Keller House, please visit Ian Toy's Facebook page by clicking HERE.



Southold Historical Society

P.O. Box 1, Southold, NY 11971  /  631-765-5500 / Fax  631-765-8510    

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