Considered to be the foremost gay friendly summer retreat in the United States, Cherry Grove is the summer home to most of Manhattan’s Chelsea community. Often compared to Cape Cod’s Provincetown, “the Grove” is a spirited LGBT enclave.
Cherry Grove’s beginnings can be traced back to the year 1868 when Elizabeth and Archer Perkinson established a chowder house in the area that would in time become a hotel. Perkinson’s was among a handful of resort hotels that started to sprout up in the late 19th Century, along with the Surf Hotel near Kismet and the Gerard in Point O’ Woods. It was visited by the likes of Oscar Wilde and W.H. Auden. The Perkinson family began selling residential lots in 1921 and the community was named after the sour cherry trees that were common in the area.
Cherry Grove’s prominence as a gay community began after the Hurricane of 1938, which this Fire Island enclave particularly hard. Already suffering the effects of the Great Depression, there was an exodus of property owners from the community, but gays and lesbians who were made to feel unwelcome in other Fire Island communities soon filled the void bringing with them an artistic flair as many were affiliated with the theatre industry in New York City.
Perkinson’s Hotel may be long gone, but in present day the Belvedere is one of the most distinctive looking buildings on Fire Island. Today Cherry Grove thrives as with a bustling downtown full of amenities, including several restaurants, clubs, bars, and boutiques as an eclectic mix of some 300 charming beach cottages connected by winding narrow boardwalk paths. There’s always something to do at Cherry Grove! Ferry service is out of Sayville, NY. A seasonal marina is also available for boaters. Please visit www.cherrygrove.com for more information.