The chapel at Freetown, which came to be known as Freetown Chapel and later St. Matthew's Chapel, was originally located on Three Mile Harbor Road across the street from the present-day Neighborhood House. According to an 1852 indenture, John and Levina Walstein sold a 25-foot by 30- foot parcel of land to Mary R. Pell of Flushing, Queens, for a dollar, asking that a building suitable for use as a "Sabbath School Room" and/or place of "Religious or Bethel meetings" be built.
Fortunately, Mary Pell came through on her promise and a small white frame building was built on the site, providing non-denominational religious services for many years. The chapel's weekly attendees were historically comprised of three groups, the first being freed slaves.
As slavery was abolished in New York State in 1827, it's believed slaves from Gardiner's Island were relocated to small homes in this area. Montaukett Indians made up the second group, having been relocated as a result of Arthur W. Benson's purchase of thousands of acres of land in Montauk. It's said Stephen Taukus ("Talkhouse") Pharaoh's funeral was held here in 1879. Lastly, many members of the Lester and Bennett families attended services, as they lived in the surrounding area.
In 1907, Freetown Chapel caught the eye of the Rev. Oscar Treder, first rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and was subsequently acquired by the parish and renamed St. Matthew's Chapel. As time passed, more people started attending services at nearby Calvary Baptist Church or at St. Luke's itself, and the chapel fell into disuse and disrepair. Its last recorded service was held on Christmas day in 1968.
In 1976, the building was moved to the Maidstone Marina boatyard for use as a mariners' chapel. Today, it serves as a gym for guests of East Hampton Point, the hotel and marina.
Freetown Chapel and later St. Matthew's Chapel
Leiber Collection house