You might travel along Canoe Place Road in Hampton Bays a hundred times and never notice the petite blue and white building perched a few yards off the heavily trafficked street. If not for its small white wooden sign, it could easily be mistaken for an abandoned summer bungalow.
The Canoe Place Chapel is an historic little gem-in need of a lot of TLC. Having fallen into a state of disrepair over the last decade, the doors of the chapel are locked as to prohibit visitors or vandals.
Built in 1820, the chapel’s worn and paint-chipped exterior belies its equally tragic interior. With the pews torn out years ago by renters, the inside of the chapel is bare and the years of neglect are obvious by means of the broken floorboards, cracked walls and watermarked ceiling. Looking at the structural bones peeking through the broken drywall, it’s hard to imagine the building’s former glory.
According to information collected by the Hampton Bays Historical Society, the Canoe Place Chapel served as a church and meeting house for the community, but many facts about the buildings history are still unclear. Part of the chapel’s colorful lore includes a large portion of the building being relocated to the Shinnecock Reservation.
As the story goes, sometime in the 1800’s a small army of men dragged the building, via ropes and braun, across the frozen neck of the Shinnecock to the reservation, however, Brenda Berntson, president of the historical society, is quick to point out that much of the building's history is still being debated.
Presently, under the stewardship of the society, plans are underway to relocate and renovate the little chapel in 2012.
"Once we are finished with our two present projects, the Prosper King and Lyson Hat Shop, we will focus on the chapel," said Berntson. "Once its relocated and renovated, the community can enjoy it as a meeting house and even rent it out for special events and weddings.
The chapel’s new home will be on a much larger parcel of land only a few yards away from its present location and will offer ample parking for visitors. Both pieces of property are owned by the Town of Southampton, but the chapel’s new location also features an old Indian burial ground, according to Berntson.
For more information on Hampton Bays Historical Society’s stewardship projects, volunteer program or events call 631-728-0887
Category: Activity, Volunteer
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