Unless indicated below, this is a transcript of the original Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities/Town of Brookhaven survey form. Since most of the surveys were conducted in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, much of the information reflects that time period.
Corrections to obvious typographical and spelling errors have been made. Corrections to factual errors in the original surveys, and updates or comments on the information are either enclosed in [square brackets], or are clearly indicated as updated material from the context of the comments.
Sites which have a suffix of “S” are supplemental sites not included in the original surveys.
Building-Structure Inventory Form
Old South Haven Presbyterian Church
If checked, this is a Supplemental Form, not in the original surveys.
Mrs. Paul W. Bigelow
7 Thornhedge Road
Bellport, NY 11713
Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society
Old South Haven Presbyterian Church
Hamlet of Brookhaven
If checked, this site is within the Fire Place (Brookhaven Hamlet) Historic District
Charles Kellogg, minister
7a-Visible From Road
8d-Board & Batten
wide clapboard [Survey entry is erroneous. Siding is original white stained cedar shakes.]
9a-Wood Frame Interlocking Joints
9b-Wood Frame Light Members
December, 1961, from Southaven
[Conventional wisdom has been that the exterior of the meeting house remained to the present much as it was originally constructed. However, recent research has revealed that the structure as originally constructed was without a steeple. An article in the South Side Signal (Babylon), 10 October 1874, notes: "O.H.P and W.E. Robinson of thus village (i.e., Bellport) are now erecting a steeple on the Presbyterian church, at South Haven, and also making a number of other improvements."
The interior has also undergone several modifications. Originally the interior was designed with a central high pulpit, with doors to the outside located on either side. Remnants of these doors can still be seen on the inside wall on either side of the steeple. While the church records are unclear as to the date, sometime in the mid to late 19th century (perhaps at the time the steeple was erected), the interior was "modernized." T he pulpit was relocated to the other end of the room, and placed on a platform said to be about half its original height. The pews were turned 180°. The double entrances were close off, and a single entrance through the steeple provided. A balcony was constructed at the rear (steeple side). There is some suggestion that a small organ was placed in the balcony niche formed by the steeple (a donation by Mary Gelston Floyd Ireland). This organ was not the present Hinners organ found at the church. The room was painted to the darker browns popular during the Victorian era. Sometime prior to 1935, a choir stall was constructed to the right of the pulpit.
During the late 1930's, the interior was renovated to its present appearance — including a new pulpit, removal of the choir stall, and repainting to a colors more reminiscent of its early 19th century roots. (The original pulpit is in storage in the attic of the Post Carriage house.)
Helen Borthwick recalls that the small room to the right of the front door was used for coffins. When the ground was too frozen for burial, a coffin would be kept in the in the unheated church until there was a thaw.
A small meeting room addition, now called the Gallery, was added to the back after the building was moved to Brookhaven Hamlet.
The original foundation for the building was said to be ballast stones from ships arriving at South Haven on the Carman's River (then the Connecticut River). Some of these stones were moved from South Haven and may still be found on the hill behind the church and as landscaping features in the gardens. Others remain at the South Haven site. ]
Carriage house part of original Post Estate [Br09B]
Surroundings of the Building
Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings
Many old buildings in this vicinity
Other Notable Features of Building and Site
Original doors still attached to pews; also original name plates on center pew of "SUFFOLK CLUB", placed there by Daniel Webster. Revolutionary War communicants include Gen. William Floyd, Gen Nathaniel Woodhull, Col. Josiah Smith. Chairs on alter a gift of Mrs. Ireland, a direct descendant of Gen. Floyd.
this building, 1828 (First meeting house, 1740)
Historic and Architectural Importance
In 1740, this "church" was only one between Babylon and Southampton. Many famous preachers served this church -- Rev. Phillips, Abner Reeve, "Priest" Ezra King came in 1808 under his leadership, the present church was built, on the banks of the Carman's River, from which, Daniel Webster caught the large trout, immortalized by Currier & Ives; the weathervane made with that trout as a model, is kept in the house of the pastor, Charles Kellogg.
["In 1740 the Presbyterian congregation established a church in South Haven that was desecrated during the Revolution. The present church, built on the same site in 1828, was saved from destruction in 1961 and moved to the hamlet of Brookhaven. A shingled Federal style church of gentle proportions, it has a projecting bell tower entrance with arched door and window. Flanking the tower on the front are two windows at the second-story level, and three large arched windows articulate each side of the nave. The pedimented gable, the eaves and cornice returns are decorated with Modillions, as is the two-stage tower that supports an octagonal spire with bell finial. The period weather vane is a replica in gilded wood of a trout caught in Carman’s River by Daniel Webster, on the occasion of attending services in South Haven, an event commemorated in a Currier & Ives print."
From AIA Architectural Guide to Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island. By American Institute of Architects Long Island Chapter, Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. Contributor American Institute of Architects Long Island Chapter. Courier Dover Publications, 1992. Entry. 108, with photograph]
Section revised 30 Jan 2009
In 1938, a "restoration" primarily of the church interior was accomplished. From the Long Island Advance, 'From the Archives of the Long Island Advance,' 75 years ago (24 Jan 2013, p. 19,): "The final plans for the restoration of the South Haven Presbyterian Church are now in order. The noted architect, A.G. Lamont, has drawn up a set of blueprints, which give the plan a new pulpit, as it was when the church was first built. The walls and pews are to be painted white, as they were when they were built in 1828. The estimated cost of the restoration of the church has been set at $500." [It is uncertain how the congregation in 1938 knew how the interior appeared in 1828, as no contemporaneous accounts have been uncovered. It is known, however, that the pews were originally facing the opposite direction, and that the pulpit and its platform were between two entrance doors (now there is one). There apparently was no balcony in 1828.]
Manuscripts by Osborne Shaw (respository Town of Brookhaven Historian's Office) and past ministers of this church (church archives)
Pamphlet by Donald M. Bayles and also newspaper articles by him, about the church (church archives).
On the Chace Map, 1858 "Pres. Ch.", where Montauk Highway crosses Carman's river, which is called "Connecticut River" on this map. (Church on South West corner).
Pamphlets issued by the Church itself.
[A comprehensive history of the parish was written by George Borthwick, minister of the South Haven Church, 1935-1940: "The Church at the South, A History of the South Haven Church" 1989. Copies of this work may be found at many local libraries. This history contains may references and sources.]
Entry revised 30 January 2009
2 April 2009, From the Archives of the Long Island Advance, 75 Years Ago. (1934): "Members of the Presbyterian church in Brookhaven have recently furnished the church with new window shades." [The note is ambiguous. There was no Presbyterian church in Brookhaven Hamlet in 1934. The reference could have been to the "Lecture Room" (now known as the Chapel House Br05C) or the church building in South Haven.]