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Restoration sought for historic Jamesport house

The Jamesport Meeting House was built in 1731

The Jamesport Meeting House was built in 1731 and is the oldest building in the Town of Riverhead. Credit: Erin Geismar, 2012

Richard Wines, chairman of the Jamesport Landmarks Preservation Commission, will lead a community effort to restore the east side of the historic Jamesport Meeting House.

The renovation project, which will repair the woodwork, carpeting and lighting of the building’s lecture room, will honor the original 1731 design, he said.

The lecture room is the last of the house’s public space that has not been refurbished. The work, planned to start in the spring, will open more space for community events like weddings and receptions, Wines said.

Designs for the work were developed by the Jamesport Meeting House Preservation Trust. The building has been managed by the trust since 2008.

The meeting house was built with a simple style favored by Puritans. In 1806, the Rev. Lyman Beecher, the father of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, and co-founder and leader of the American Temperance Society, preached a sermon at the house that galvanized public sentiment against the practice of dueling two years after Alexander Hamilton’s fatal gunfight with Aaron Burr.

Wines said he hopes the repairs will be done next fall with the work undertaken by volunteers.

“You work on their schedule,” he said of those helping with the restoration.

Costs of the project have not been determined.

Previous community restoration campaigns included work on a 25-person pew for the large meeting room.

“We’ve been very lucky at meeting house,” he says. “Whenever we needed to do something, people have stepped forward from community.”

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