St. Andrews Episcopal Church - A Part of Yaphanks Historic Community
In 1827 James Huggins Weeks purchased a large tract of land in Yaphank from William Sydney Smith of Longwood. One year later James and Susan Weeks, with their sort, moved into a new home in Yaphank later to be called “The Lilacs.”
James H. Weeks was successful and made his wealth in his logging business. He shipped his wood produce to various locations but primarily to New York City. Dr. Edgar Fenn Peck, in writing of his travels on Long Island in 1842, states that the pine trees “...stood so close together that a horse could not pass between them.” He added this was true for oak, hickory, locust, chestnut and dogwood (Dyson: Anecdotes & Events).
Saint Andrews Church was built for two reasons. James Weeks wanted a community church for Yaphank, but secondly, and of more importance, his son William James Weeks, who married his wife Mary in 1848, lost their first child at the age of one year, eleven months. Suzy was buried on November 30, 1850, Saint Andrews Day, and so the decision of the Weeks family was to build a church in the Anglican tradition in memory of “Little Suzy’ whose grave was later moved onto the Saint Andrews property.
Shortly thereafter, James and William Weeks surveyed a half acre of land west of William’s octagon house on the south side of the road (East Main Street today), and contracted Edmund Petty to build a church, a replica of the Grace Church at Fort Neck (Massapequa). The contract required construction to be completed by August 1, 1853 at a total cost of $1250.00, but work was not completed and first services were not held until July, 1854.
For twenty years Saint Andrews existed as a family chapel, but on July 14, 1873 Bishop Littlejohn consecrated Saint Andrews, gave an address, celebrated Holy Communion, and transformed what was a chapel into a church. What had been man’s property was now God’s property, and a special tabernacle to His glory.
From its inception in 1854 to current date, Saint Andrews has had appointed to attend its flock some forty—seven Vicars and Lay Readers, the longest tenure lasting twenty—two years. This distinction belongs to the current Vicar, the Reverend Richard C. Chapin, a kind and gentle man, who with his congregation has done much to restore and insure the historical integrity of the Church.
The Church is a wooden frame structure of vernacular, Gothic Revival design. The back extension and side wing were built to complement the original building. Entering the interior one walks into a place of worship that is unchanged from when the Weeks family first worshipped here. Situated in the northwest corner of the sanctuary is a mounted marble tablet memorializing James Huggins Weeks as chief sponsor of the Church’s establishment In 1853.
Because of its structural integrity both inside and out, and since it reflects a part of our American heritage, for it was churches such as this across the nation that provided a place to worship, to meet and to discuss the problems and matters of the day, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church has received the Nation’s highest historical award, a place in the National Register of Historic Places.