New Town Square

A well-attended formal dedication of a pollinator garden at the East Hampton Historical Farm Museum on Sunday was a fitting tribute to the late Matthew Lester, the East Hampton High School student and Eagle Scout candidate who conceived it. But the event, which included lunch for 300 people, live music, speeches, and a brief ceremony, demonstrated that a new and important town square is available here.

The relatively new farm museum occupies a roughly three-acre site purchased in 2005 using $2.1 million from the East Hampton Town community preservation fund. Exhibits about agrarian life of a century ago fill the 1770s Jonathan Barnes house on the property, and a restored 1800s barn has a collection of agricultural implements. Near Matthew Lester’s garden at this time of year, bees buzz in and out of a hive. A few old fruit trees stand by. 

While the museum is still defining its mission, the property itself shows tremendous promise. On Sunday, dozens of cars and trucks — even a Springs fire truck — were guided by volunteers to parking spaces on the grass. Almost the town’s entire stock of wooden picnic tables, a long buffet of roast turkey, corn, potatoes, and other things, were set up, along with some 70 donated pies. And still there was plenty of room to walk around or listen to the musicians who took turns performing between the wide-open barn doors.

It is difficult to think of another location in East Hampton Town where so large a gathering could be more easily accommodated, particularly one with minimal disruption of passing traffic. With accesses on both North Main and Cedar Streets, it seemed that vehicles could come and go with relative ease, while guests enjoyed an afternoon of unmistakable community spirit. That this site seems ideal for such events could not have been missed by those in attendance. We hope to see many more days like this. As time goes by this preservation fund purchase may prove to be among the town’s most treasured places.