Old Whalers' Church




The First Presbyterian Church of Sag Harbor was built in 1844, replacing the former church of 1816 which had become too small to accommodate the growing congregation. That one, in turn, had replaced the Old Barn Church of 1766, an early meeting house, a homely structure with a leaky roof.

By the 1840's Sag Harbor was at the height of its prosperity, with 63 whaling ships calling the village their home port. The money was available to build a grand new structure, and ship owners, captains and local business men readily agreed to contribute to the project. A well-known New York architect, Minard LaFever, was commissioned to design the building; the property was bought for $2,000 and the building, without furnishings, cost $17,000. The structure, which combines elements of both the Egyptian Revival Style and the Greek Revival Style, was topped by a magnificent steeple of 185 feet, which could be seen by returning mariners as they sailed towards home. When the church was dedicated on May 16, 1844, the vessels in port were granted an extra day at home by the ship owners so that all could attend the ceremony.

In 1994 the church was named a National Historic landmark by the U.S. Deptartment of the Interior and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. During recent years much needed restorations have been made, exterior and interior painting done, woodwork refinished, new windows installed, new carpets put down and reconstruction and renovation done on the 1899 Chapel. The great steeple, which crashed to the ground during the hurricane of 1938, will, it is hoped, be rebuilt at some future time. We welcome all visitors to come in and see "The Old Whalers' Church."