I’ve always been curious about this building. It’s definitely suffering from a lack of attention, but still retains a lot of lovely detail, like the louvered bell tower, the tudor arched doors and windows with their diamond divided light pattern, the shingled skirt up to a common window sill than runs consistently around the building’s perimeter, the brackets, the exposed rafter tails at the eaves, etc. Boy would I love to see the interior.
Prior to 1892 this property was owned by Ullman Rose Havens. Ullman was born in Southampton in 1854 and married Ida Willard Albertson in 1874 who was born in Riverhead in 1854. They had four children: Gracie, Daniel, Martha, and LeRoy. In 1892 the property was purchased by David Shepard Havens, Ullman’s son, and the mortgage was carried by his uncle Walter Franklin Havens. David and Ullman Havens were real estate brokers and owned many properties throughout the Village of Southampton.
Before the building became the gathering place for the Sons of Gideon, it was known as the Bethel Presbyterian Church where whites, African Americans, and Indians gathered under the guidance of Reverend Thomas C. Ogburn. Rev. Ogburn was an African American from North Carolina. "He was born in slavery and had begun his ministerial work in the Deep South.....[He] was a graduate from Lincoln University and from the School of Theology of the same University located in the State of Pennsylvania......The Minister was not a powerful speaker. He had none of the noisy showmanship which in those days so clearly marked the Negro preacher. This man was quiet, dignified and thoroughly a Presbyterian at heart as well as in his manner. Neither did he have the eloquence so common to the platform orator of that era. His sermons were in his daily tasks and the common everyday contacts with his parishioners." (The Shinnecock Indians, Lois Marie Hunter) Originally, Reverend Ogburn preached the three o'clock service at the First Presbyterian Church for many years. But later, as the African American community grew, there was pressure for their own place of worship. "The oldest Negro family was the very highly respected Bailey family. This family had worshipped with Indians for many, many years and was well loved by both Indians and whites. This family and their friends put their problems before Rev. Thomas C. Ogburn and under his leadership the nucleus of what in a few years was to become Bethel Presbyterian Church was founded.......In the year 1917 Bethel Church was erected on its present site in Southampton Village, an unacknowledged monument to the late Thomas Clay Ogburn and [his wife]."
The present owner of the structure is listed as “Goldie Smith/Sons of Gideon Lodge No. 47 A.P. & A. M.” but it is likely that she died at least sixty years ago. Goldie was born in New York in 1868 and was the wife of a clothing merchant. Her husband, his parents, and her parents were all born in Germany. Perhaps the building is now owned by some of her relatives; she and her husband Max had three children: Philip, Ruby, and Harold. Sometime during her ownership of the building it became associated with the Sons of Gideon, which was a derivative of the Masonic Lodge, which derives from the Freemasons, a secretive fraternal organization which arose from obscure origins during the 16th and 17th century. “Freemasonry uses the metaphors of operative stonemasons' tools and implements, against the allegorical backdrop of the building of King Soloman's Temple, to convey what has been described by both Masons and critics as "a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Wikipedia
The lovely structure looks like it hasn’t been used in quite some time. I daydream about it becoming a general use community structure for book clubs, and poker groups, and playgroups, or as an annex to the forthcoming African American Museum of the East End.