History & Culture
When your town’s timeline predates the birth of the United States, that’s a justifiable source of local pride. Some key dates include 1620 (James I of England includes Shelter Island in the Plymouth Company’s original land grant); 1656 (persecuted Quakers begin to seek refuge on the island); 1730 (first town meeting); 1743 (first church built); 1791 (first school opens). Yes, things moved slowly in that century after the first white man landed on Manhansack-aha-quash-awamock (“an island sheltered by islands”) in 1638 and encountered the Manhanset tribe. If things still happen slowly here, locals are gratified that robust land values haven’t resulted in the traffic and fast pace of the Hamptons. The new Shelter Island Historical Center, currently under construction, will house more than 100,000 artifacts detailing the island’s layered four-century pedigree. Beyond that history, Shelter Island’s “culture” is a lifestyle full of nature trail walks at Mashomack Preserve and sunny days sunbathing or kayaking at any of the fine beaches (Wades Beach and Crescent Beach are watched over by lifeguards). That’s what island life is about, after all.