The 1717 Church was reported at the time to be one of the costliest on Long Island. Henry P. Parsons described the 1717 Church in his 1897, A History of the Town of East Hampton:
The church clock was installed in 1735. It had only one hand to denote the hour. The diagonal dial faced the street and the hammer beat the hour on the clear sweet toned bell. The original clock can be found at the East Hampton Historical Society.
Originally the entrance to the church was by a door on the south-west side. When renovated in 1822/1823, the entrance was moved to the front, facing the street, two doors, one on each side of the projecting tower at the west end.
The timber of this church was massive, of white oak largely, the beams 10x10 and the sills and posts much larger. The window frames were of red cedar 4x6. The frame cut on Gardiner Island, was said to have been the free gift of the proprietor, a fact cited to show the scarcity of large timber in the town. In recognition of this magnificent gift, the society, when pews were made, devoted one of the most eligible to the exclusive use to the owner of the Island, so occupied for generations, and known as the “Gardiner’s Island Pew”. This church raised in 1717, was not occupied till the following year, 1718.
“Externally it was 45 by 80 feet, covered first with clapboards, afterwards with three feet cedar shingles fastened with hand-wrought nails. The tower at the west end, built separate from the foundation, projected slightly beyond the line of the main building. On each side of the belfry were arched opening and the belfry floor or deck was substantially covered with lead. Above this square tower rose a lofty sexagonal steeple. Above that a long massive red cedar shaft or spire. Above that the iron spindle on which hung a large copper vane with numerals cut therein denoting the year of the towns settlement and erection of the church, thus: “1649 -1717” .
First Town Bell
Rev. Ernest Ells in a 1935 article on clocks and bells in East Hampton, stated the first town bell was a gift given to East Hampton by Queen Ann of England. It hung in the new 1717 church. Funds confiscated from Henry VIII were known as Queen Ann’s Bounty and used to buy bells for churches in America. Ells reported the bell was known for its sweet sounding tone and could be heard far out on the ocean when the wind was favorable. Reportedly the clock and bell from the 1717 church were given to the Long Island Historical Society Museum in Brooklyn, the clock eventually made its way back to East Hampton but the whereabouts of the first East Hampton bell are unknown.
Henry P. Hedges book continues describing the interior of the 1717 church:
“At first there were benches for seats in the church building. On the outsides these were replaced with large wainscotted pews capped on top. Opposite the door on the south-west was the high pulpit in the middle of the north-east side.
March 1, 1848, the Trustees of the Church became a Corporate body. Prior to this date, the Trustees of the church were also the trustees for the town, church and state were one. The first Church Trustees/Leaders were: David H. Huntting, Baldwin C. Talmadge, Stephen Hedges, Talmadge Barnes, Sylvester D. Ranger, and David H. Miller.
Rev. Nathaniel Huntting recorded the first baptism in the new 1717 church: 25 May 1718, Mary, daughter of Cornelius Conklin, Jr.
A History of the Town of East-Hampton, N.Y., by Hedges, Henry Parsons, 1817-1911, Publication date 1897, Sag-Harbor, J.H. Hunt,
History of Suffolk County, New York, with Illustrations Portraits and Sketches, 1882, by W.W. Munsell & Co., pub; Bayles, Richard M. (Richard Mather); Cooper, James B. (James Brown), Pelletreau, William S. (William Smith); Street, Charles R. (Charles Rufus); Smith, John Lawrence.