Old Southeast Church Pew Dedications
Old Southeast Church – 1794
1664 Rt. 22, Southeast, NY
Overlooking Route 22 in the Town of Southeast, the Old Southeast Church is the oldest house of worship in Putnam County and in 1972 became the first site in Putnam County to be named to the National Register of Historic Places. Landmarks Preservation Society of Southeast, Inc. bought the building late in 1977. Much money has been raised and generously donated over the years by many dedicated people. In the last few years, the church has had a new roof, been painted inside and out, huge windows repaired and painted, under-structure reinforced and repaired.
Built in 1794 on the meetinghouse plan of the 18th century and altered by an unfortunate fire in 1830, the structure has survived without further modifications. Erected on a hillside, it forms the commanding architectural feature of Doansburg, which was the principal hamlet of Putnam County until the 19th century when the railroad diverted both population and enterprise southwest to Brewster.
The Old Southeast Church stands two stories in height and measures four bays in width on the north and south elevations, and three on the east and west, with the entrance on the south side opposite the pulpit. According to the Minutes of the Congregation, the building committee was authorized to construct a meetinghouse measuring fifty feet by thirty-eight feet and was granted "…liberty to take such parts of the old meetinghouse as they might think best", and was also "…instructed to paint the outside, lath and plaster said house and hang pew doors, stairs and pulpit and canopy made…interior whitewashed or polished."
On March 5, 1830, the structure was partially damaged by fire. In the process of rebuilding, the church was altered stylistically: the entrance was moved to the west side; the belfry added; the balcony reoriented and partitions were erected at the west end of the balcony as well as at the entrance in order to create a vestibule. The exterior clapboards date from 1830 as does the ornamental segmental arch near the peak of the gable on the west entrance façade.
Two brick chimneys, which were added in 1830 on the north and south sides, were later partially dismantled and are now apparent only in the garret and sanctuary. Distinctive features include vertical wainscoting beneath the chair rail, the painted grained pews, the paneling of the gallery parapet and the beam which supports the gallery floor.
The interior focuses on the pulpit at the western end of the church between two interior doors, giving access to the sanctuary from the vestibule. Doric columns support the gallery on three sides of the sanctuary and support the ceiling.
Click here to see views of the church interior.
Go here to learn more about early church history.
Go here for more information about rental of the church for special events.
The organ is a Mason and Hamlin Reed Pump Organ built about 1875. The organ is listed in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog as style No. 308. It contains three sets of reeds, with ten stops. Mr. Paul Townsend, late of Patterson, played the organ at its dedication in 1911. It was restored in the 1980’s by A & J Reed & Pipe Organ Company of Newburgh, New York.
In the autumn of 1989 Allen Pike, tenor, and Mary Rogers, organist, recorded eight of Fanny Crosby’s hymns. Since there is no electricity in the church, the taping was on a battery operated stereo tape recorder. (A few squeaks from the manually operated foot pedals may be heard on the recording.)
The tapes are for sale by Landmarks in the church vestibule.