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Church Founded in 1793

Footnotes to Long Island History

Church Founded in 1793
January 8, 1953

by

Thomas R. Bayles


            The first Congregational church in Patchogue was organized on January 14, 1793, by the Rev. Noah Hallock of "Old Mans" Mt. Sinai. This church organization was constituted the "Second Congregational church of Brookhaven." The first one had been organized at Mt. Sinai in 1789 with the Re. Mr. Hallock as pastor.

                On August 5, 1791, Benjamin Smith sold to the "inhabitants of the Parish at South" one fifth acre of land on the northeast corner of South Country road and the road to the "Mooney Ponds," now Waverly Avenue. The price paid was 30 shillings and the purchasing committee was Isaac Overton and Ezra Davis.

                A church building or "meeting house," as it was called was erected on this site in 1793 and for 27 years was used jointly by the Methodists on Sundays, and on weekdays as a school house, and as a general assembly hall on public occasions.

                The first "meeting house" was a plain structure about 20 by 25 feet in size similar to the pioneer churches in South Haven and Setauket. Its timbers came from trees grown in the locality and its sides were clapboards that were sawed in the local saw mill. There was no interior finish and the bare timbers of the roof and sidewalls were in plain sight. There was no chimney at first, and the women of the congregation brought footstoves to keep themselves warm. Most of the labor was supplied by men of the church.

                At the north end of the building there was a high pulpit, which was reached by means of a steep stairway. The congregation sat on nine or 10 rows of crude benches arranged on each side of a center aisle, and about 100 persons could be seated. The flat stone doorstep of this old meeting house is now the hearthstone of the fireplace in the cast end of the Sunday School room of the present church on East Main Street.

                When the church was first organized there were eight charter members, Jacob Baker and his wife, Deborah, Phineas Robinson, Ananias Smith, and four other Smiths, William, Abigail, Mary and Esther.

                The Rev. Noah Hallock was pastor of the Patchogue church as well as the one in his hometown of Mt. Sinai, and he must have led a busy life, caring for the two churches and making the long trip across the Island on horseback to his field at Patchogue. The Rev. Mr. Hallock's ancestors were among the early settlers of Mt. Sinai and he was born May 2, 1758. Before he was 20 years old he became interested in religious activities in his home town and later in Patchogue.

                Services were probably held in private homes in Patchogue for several years before a church was established. The Rev. Mr. Hallock continued as pastor of the two churches until his death on October 25, 1818. His tombstone in the hillside burying ground at Mt. Sinai overlooks the home church which he served so many years.

                In 1820 a new building was erected just to the east of the first one, 36 by 40 in size. This building was considered so beautiful that in 1823 its builder George Curtis, was engaged to build a church exactly like it  for the Presbyterian parish of Smithtown.  

                This second church building  in Patchogue was also used jointly by the Congregationalists and Methodists but within a few years it became evident that the one-room building was not sufficient for both denominations, as they were both growing rapidly. In 1831 a subscription paper was circulated to secure funds to "pay off the Methodist society for the right in the parish property." The sum of $400 was raised for this purpose. The Methodists then built a church across the street.

                By the 1845 the village had grown eastward and the membership of the Congregational church had increased to about 200, so a new church was built on Pine street
(now North Ocean avenue). The plans for the new building were carried out promptly and successfully as shown by the following entry in the church record:

       "The new church edifice was solemnly dedicated to the service of God." with appropriate religious exercises November 27, 1855. The sermon was preached by the reverend C. Lecknees of Riverhead.

                The plan of the third building followed the standard design of the leading religious organizations of that period. It was recting nearly to the eaves of the high windows on the sides rectangular in shape with a tall steeple on the front, and narrow roof.

                The principal source of financial support during this period was the rental of seats, and the report of the pew rent collector for 1856-7 showed 55 paid-up pew holders with rents running between $4.66 to $15.16. An additional source of income was received from auctioning off the order of choosing seats. the highest bidder having first choice, and so on down the list. This system cause so much jealousy and dissatisfaction that it was abandoned in favor of weekly envelopes.

       When the building on North Ocean avenue had been in use for 38 years it was found that a larger building was needed to keep pace with the growth of the community, and a site on East Main street was purchased for $6000, and a building erected at a cost of $40,815. It was dedicated on May 14, 1892.

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