For five years, Amagansett has been without one of its most welcoming community spaces—a place that used to host everything from holiday church fairs to support groups. Now that is about to end—Scoville Hall, which was destroyed by fire in 2011 and whose charred ruins stood more than a year while an insurance dispute was ironed out—has been rebuilt, and it is set to open in about one week, just in time for the holidays.
The Amagansett Presbyterian Church, which owns the community center on Meeting House Lane, will stage a Christmas fair there on Saturday, December 3, a “soft opening” that will feature locally made crafts and other gifts, as well as activities for families. According to the church’s pastor, The Reverend Steven Howarth, the fair will signal loud and clear that the center is back and open to the community.
“I’m really excited about it,” Rev. Howarth said. “The building turned out better than ever before.”
The new Scoville Hall is meant to be a reminder of the original building but also updated to be more friendly for the people who will use it today. The interior features three floors of modern design, starting with a basement to be used for storage, something Rev. Howarth says the previous hall never had. The first floor boasts two meeting rooms, a kitchen, a reception room, and an elevator to make the second floor accessible to the handicapped. The second floor has a grand hall reception room that Rev. Howarth said can seat as many as 135 people.
The idea was for the building to be as accessible as possible for the Amagansett community.
“Community members across the board feel very comfortable with the simple elegance of it,” Rev. Howarth said. “We wanted something that had a nice feel to it.”
Originally built in 1925, Scoville Hall has been used by such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the Amagansett Food Pantry over the years. Rev. Howarth said the hall hosted 19 different support groups per week before the fire on October 15, 2011. While the congregation wanted Scoville Hall rebuilt as soon as possible, “it took us over three years to receive anything close to an equitable settlement with our insurance company,” Rev. Howarth said.
The insurer offered less than $900,000— “which you couldn’t rebuild on,” Rev. Howarth said, but at long last a settlement of just less than $1.6 million was reached. The rebuilding added up to an estimated $2.5 million, however, and Rev. Howarth expressed much appreciation to everyone who donated to the cause, among them Ben Krupinski, who oversaw the project.
Construction began in early 2015, and the building received its certificate of occupancy this past August.
“One of the main reasons of the church is to serve as hospitality for support groups,” Rev. Howarth said. “It simply comes through in relationships by asking, ‘How are we going to make them feel at home?’ We’re reminding ourselves of what’s important. We want to save lives, not carpets.”
Rev. Howarth said he hopes that local farmers and educators will use the kitchen, and he hopes to install a generator so that it could be used as a shelter in storms. And he emphasized the value of the second-floor reception room for community gatherings—such as an upcoming meeting for police and first responders to learn how to help people who are overdosing on opiates. Anyone who would like to rent space at Scoville Hall can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 631-318-0285.
“I hope that Scoville will be experienced by our community,” he said. “I hope they see it as a community hub serving the community.”