Sayville Had Rapid Growth

Footnotes to Long Island History

Sayville Had Rapid Growth
March, 1950


Thomas R. Bayles

This 2 story, four room building was the third schoolhouse built in Sayville.  It was built in 1859 to replace a smaller one on the site (where the Sayville firehouse is today).  Homer Candee was the principal.  When a new, much larger school building was opened on Greene Avenue ("Old 88"), this was converted into a private home.  The building was demolished to make way for the new firehouse in 1937.
Undated photograph from the collection of Sayville Library.

The name originally intended for Sayville was Seaville, or a village by the sea. In 1836, the residents of that little hamlet held a meeting and petitioned Uncle Sam to establish a post office, but the clerk in Washington who handled the petition wrote to Sayville instead of Seaville, and so it has remained.

The history of this settlement dates back to 1697, when Governor Fletcher granted a patent to William Nicolls for all the land bounded on the west by Connetquot river and east by Namkee creek. William Nicolls came over from England with his father in 1664 when he was a boy of seven years of age. He rose in early manhood to prominence in the legal profession, and in 1683 was appointed first clerk of Queens county. About this time he began making purchases of land in what is now Islip town. In 1702, he was elected to represent Suffolk County in the General Assembly, and held this position for 20 years until his death.

 His purchases of land including what is now the village of Sayville, were held by the family for nearly a century, and it was not until 1786 that sales were begun to the public and continued until only a small portion of these holdings remained in the possession of the Nicolls family.

In 1787, William Green and John Edwards, two of the first settlers, purchased the land between Green’s and Brown’s creeks, and from the bay to the South Country road through Sayville. The price they paid was 480 pounds, or about 3 pounds an acre.

 The settlement grew slowly, and in 1836, when the mail stages from Brooklyn to Sag Harbor first began stopping here, there were only 18 or 20 houses in the village. Before this, the settlers had to go to Patchogue to get their mail.

In 1837, the first school was built, and John Wood was engaged to teach in the little red schoolhouse at a salary on $12 a month and :board Around,” which meant he took his meals at the various homes in the village, which was included as part of his pay.

In this first schoolhouse the pupils sat on benches built around the sides of the room facing the wall and they bent over desks which were wide boards built out from the wall. This little building became inadequate with growth of the village, and in 1859 a two-story frame building was erected. In 1888, a new building of eight rooms was built at a cost of $15,000 to house the "Sayville Graded School," which gives some idea to the rapid growth of the village.

In 1847, the first church, the Methodist Episcopal, was built in Sayville. This was a 20 by 40 foot building erected at a cost of $1000.00. For several years before this, the minister from Patchogue held services in the Sayville schoolhouse on alternate Sundays. The first church building is now owned and occupied by Connetquot Masonic lodge. The present Methodist church was built in 1892.

In 1866, the Episcopal church, then part of St. John’s parish in Oakdale, started a parish school in what was called Oak hall, which was situated on the site of the Foster house. In 1869, the Episcopal society built a schoolhouse on the site of its present church and called in St. Barnabas chapel. In 1873, The name of the parish was changed to St. Ann’s church, and in 1877, the first stone church in Suffolk County was built. This was in memoriam of Walter and Helen Suydam Cutting, two former residents of the village.

A year or two after the first Methodist church was built, A Congregational church which was used as a chapel in connection with the Patchogue church, was erected and in 1888, a new and much larger church was built. This had a large lecture room and Sunday school room attached.


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