There is a popular song by Steve Winwood, "Bring Me a Higher Love," whose first verse is "Think about it, there must be higher love/Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above/Without it, life is a wasted time/Look inside your heart, I'll look inside mine."
Scoville Hall - a community center operated by the Amagansett Presbyterian Church - was destroyed by a fire in October 2011, and has since risen from the ashes due to the generosity, support and commitment of residents and community members, and perhaps even a bit of divine intervention from a higher love.
Located at 17 Meeting House Lane in Amagansett, the new building reflects the needs, desires and uses for this present society, and is a vast improvement over the original structure which was recognized as the parish house of the church back in 1925. Named for Rev. Clarence Beecher Scoville, who led the congregation from 1919 to 1943, the new structure was built almost exactly in the same location.
Ably and devotedly tended under the watchful eyes and care of Rev. Steve Howarth, himself a member of the Amagansett Fire Department
, acting as both chaplain and firefighter, Scoville Hall is reopening its doors as it hosts a Christmas Fair for the community on Saturday, December 3rd, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Reflecting a similar exterior to the original Hall, the interior now includes a basement used for storage, a first floor of meeting rooms as the Hall has historically hosted various groups, "including 12-step groups, Amagansett Food Pantry, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, the Church of the Nazarene (a congregation serving the Hispanic community), the Amagansett Elementary
School, two Masonic Lodges, and many more. Local farmers have expressed interest in being able to use the hall's kitchen with small-scale production of items to be sold at local farm stands and farmer's markets." That kitchen, along with a minister's study and reception room which opens to a terrace completes the first floor. The majestic second floor with cathedral ceilings houses a dining and banquet hall, and with the installation of an elevator, all floors are easily accessible.
With new wiring throughout the whole building, including the elevator, and the installation of showers, an added blessing bestowed by a generous community member of a generator capable of powering the entire building, Scoville Hall can now also act as a storm shelter for the community if necessary.
Scoville Hall is reopening its doors as it hosts a Christmas Fair for the community. (Courtesy Photo)
Following a cantankerous three-year insurance dispute which caused part-time resident and well-known attorney Barry Slotnick to intervene, a settlement was finally reached, and although more than $420,000 greater than the initial offer, this still left the church over $300,000 short of rebuilding costs. The church itself contributed $400,000, and the generosity of community and congregation members led at last to the rebuilding of Scoville Hall. Rev. Howarth revealed, "Contractor Ben Krupinski contributed his firm's labor to the project and built the structure without profit to himself. Subcontractors on the project as well as Riverhead Building Supply contributed time and materials, as well."
Rev. Howarth continued, "We believe that we have designed and built a building that truly will serve as a hospitable community center for group meetings, wedding receptions, and more. We are delighted to open the doors of the new Scoville Hall Community Center and look forward to welcoming all!"
In response to "Bring me a higher love, oh/Bring me a higher love/Where's that higher love I keep thinking of?..." a committed community rose, stood tall, and with a generous heart and perseverance achieved a goal that will continue to benefit all.
For more information or to donate to Scoville Hall, go to www.scovillehall.org.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.