The Eastville Community Historical Society was founded in 1981 and chartered by New York State in 1986 to preserve the history of the working-class community of Eastville and to tell the story of St. David AME Zion Church, in its original location built in 1839 by African Americans and Native Americans on Eastville Avenue and widely believed to be a stop along the Underground Railroad. The founding Pastor, Rev. P. Thompson was a noted Abolitionist and friend of Frederick Douglas. The Society also owns, upkeeps, preserves and protects the adjacent century old cemetery in which African and Native Americans of the earlier St. David's church membership are buried and many were Sag Harbor Whalers.
From the early 1800's until the mid 1900's the section of historic Sag Harbor known as Eastville was home to a multi-ethnic population of free Blacks, European immigrants and Native Americans. The area evolved through many economic changes, including two devastating village fires, the rise and fall of the whaling industry, the development and decline of factories and a boom in the tourist and resort business. Today Eastville retains its ethnic mix, while preserving its modest character amidst the glamour and wealth of the Hamptons.
The Eastville Community Historical Society had its beginnings out of a concern for preservation of St. David A.M.E. Zion Church as an historical site in Sag Harbor. The Society was instrumental in restoring the exterior of the building, the tin ceiling and also in restoring and preserving the stained glass windows of the church.
We also held our meetings in the parish house and our Annual Fish Fry on its grounds for many years beginning in 1985. In addition, because it is widely believed to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church was included in historical tours of Sag Harbor in general, and the Eastville community in particular.
The Eastville Community Historical Society moved its headquarters to 139 Hampton Street in 1996, a 1925 Sears Roebuck catalog house with continued support to raise funds for the maintenance of the church. We continued to conduct guided tours of the church which we consider to be an important historical site.