Log In   ·   Become A Member

Sixty-Something: Water Mill - The Hamptons Best Kept Secret

T.J. Clemente

The Water Mill windmill. (Photo: TJ Clemente)

For those who crisscross the Hamptons daily on Route 27, when they think of Water Mill they think of the James Corwith Grist Mill on the Green as a landmark. Amazingly this windmill was built in 1800 in Sag Harbor but moved by Corwith in 1814 to its present location. Corwith and his family actively ran the mill until 1887 and Corwith, along with a few generations of his family, is actually buried in the graveyard just behind the mill. When driving the mill is definably a marker on your drive. It is a site decorated around Christmas time, and quite frankly it is a rather distinguished authentic historical landmark of the Hamptons all year-round. To think it was built as Thomas Jefferson had just become President is mind-blowing to me. The actual famous watermill of which the hamlet gets its name from is located on the North side of 27 and is worthy of a visit when open and running.

However, there is more to Water Mill than the old watermill and windmill. Many do not know about the very old and historic family properties that are located south of Route 27 out to Mecox Bay. Families like the Halseys have been living full-time back there since the late 1640's. With a population around 1,600 full-time folks, we are talking about a small community. The story is in 1644, England gave Edward Howell 40 acres near the settlement of Southampton to build a mill for the settlers to grind their grain into meal. Back in the day, people referred to original settlements as either the ones east or west of the water mills. Eventually the town was just called Water Mill.

If you have never ridden your bike through the backroads of Water Mill, you are missing out on the purest part of Hamptons history. There are cattle, horses, barns, fields, active farms along with quaint historical structures that Norman Rockwell never did paint. There is an acoustic sound all its own back there. Of course there are the new mansions, the latest expressions of vast wealth that are popping up everywhere, especially along the strip of ocean beach, but that's to be expected.

The people who live in Water Mill like to keep their piece of the Hamptons a quiet secret. They want to keep it as unspoiled as possible. Can you blame them? They have been happy living there for over 400 years.

I was at a party off of Mecox Bay for Hamptons.com in 2011 when I proposed marriage to my wife Cindi. Jackson Browne was the musical guest at the party and was performing as a favor to his significant other, a friend of the owner of the home. As I dropped to my knee and proposed, a rather distinguished man in blue jeans and his wife congratulated us. He introduced himself as David Rockefeller (Jr.) "I live nearby," he said. Then music started and we all started to dance, he and his wife high-fived both Cindi and I as we danced. That's my Water Mill story.

I was driving around the intimate lanes of Water Mill this last weekend to get the vibe for this column. I stopped and walked around. I could feel the history beneath my feat as I walked over the soil. I could hear the wind, feel the peacefulness and smell the nearby ocean. Some things and some places are just perfect that way.

Related Articles:

Be the first to comment on this article. (Just fill out the form below)

Submit Your Comment

Please note, you are not currently logged in. Your comment will be submitted as a guest.
To submit your comment as a member, please click here.
Your Name:
* Comments will be reviewed and posted in a timely fashion
* All fields are required
What color is a firetruck?
(For spam prevention, thanks)
Southampton Masonry-Visiting the Southampton or the Wainscott locations is an exciting experience.
Southampton Masonry has been serving Long Island's masonry and tile needs since 1975. Delivering quality products from Manhattan to Montauk for over three decades. The company's continued success is due primarily to their number one priority: customer satisfaction, with a promise of prompt and courteous service from the professional, knowledgeable staff. Southampton Masonry has the largest inventory on the east end. As direct importers they can offer a large variety of the finest quality products at the most competitive pricing for both your interior and exterior projects.

Southrifty Drug 54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village
Southrifty Drug is a small, neighborhood pharmacy with limited shelf space, and we have to be very selective about which over-the-counter items we carry. As a result you'll find a no nonsense concentration of very effective, high quality and useful products on our shelves. In this new section, we feature a number of these products that we feel are especially worthy of your consideration.

New York Title Abstract Services, Inc.
We are a title insurance services company dedicated to promptly delivering fully compliant and accurate reports, and title insurance, for residential and commercial real estate throughout New York State. Headquartered in the Hamptons, our professional team has extensive real estate experience and understands the business from all sides including title insurance, legal, sales, governmental, banking, and lending regulations.

Hamilton Hoge
As the owner’s representative our practice encompasses all aspects of a project from pre-purchase property due diligence, program development iterations, advisement on systems, analyze contracts/vendors, critical path analysis, feasibility and schedule. The strength of our approach is in facilitating organized communication. We strongly analyze all representations and warranties for the protection and benefit of our client.