Southampton, “the oldest English settlement in New York State,” celebrates its 375th anniversary in 2015, and the Southampton Historical Museum is gearing up with a year’s worth of events.
“The year 1640 changed the East End forever. It wasn’t just Southampton’s founding,” says Tom Edmonds, the executive director of the museum. The focus of the celebrations will be the significance of the year to the whole area.
While there will be 140 events held from January to November, the two most important, according to Edmonds, will be the convocation on Saturday, March 7; and the rededication of the monument at Conscience Point Historic Site on June 13.
This year, the convocation celebrates Southampton and Southold, which was also settled in 1640. Debating who came first is a treasured pastime between the two towns.
“We say we got here in June. Southold says it wasn’t until August. It’s all done in good humor,” Edmonds jokes.
Though Southampton has held a convocation at the First Presbyterian Church, which was also founded in 1640, to commemorate its anniversary every 25 years, this convocation will be unique because Southampton has invited Southold town to be involved.
Speakers include Suffolk County Legislators Al Krupski, representing Southold; Jay Schneiderman, representing Southampton; and the Reverends Dr. Peter Kelly from Southold and Dr. Richard Boyer from Southampton.
“We’re reaching our hand across Peconic Bay, more than any other year,” says Edmonds, who notes that Southold has been involved in Southampton’s convocations in the past, but on a smaller scale.
After the 3 p.m. convocation, revelers will be invited to the Southampton Historical Museum, housed in the Rogers Mansion across the street, for a 4 p.m. reception and exhibit opening for “Meet the Families Who Lived in Rogers Mansion.” Admission to both events is free and open to the public. “We’ll go from a serious event at the church to people coming over to the museum for a glass of wine, and people new to the community will meet older, long-term residents,” says Edmonds.
The June 13 rededication of the Conscience Point monument will mark another significant milestone in the celebrations. Settlers from Lynn, Massachusetts first landed on the East End at Conscience Point in North Sea on June 12, 1640. The rock that currently sits at the site was dedicated in 1910.
The all-day family event includes a program at the shellfish hatchery, a Shinnecock tribe historical reenactment and a clambake and picnic at the North Sea Community Center.
As Southampton continues to lead in the celebrations all of the 15 historical societies in Southampton Town have been invited to participate in Southampton’s annual 4th of July Parade, the biggest on the South Fork.
Among the other events is a Polish Festival, to be held on August 1 at the Rogers Mansion. “Polish festivals have always had polka dancing, but that’s not a Polish tradition,” says Edmonds. “In Poland, they do the tango. We’ll recreate a nightclub in the Sayre Barn.” Southampton’s celebration will be themed “A Night in Krakow,” where tango is popular in the nightclubs.
As 2015 rolls in, a toast to Southampton and to celebrating history year-round!
For more information, visit southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.