Clinton Academy was one of the first academies in New York State chartered by the Board of Regents. The academy was constructed in 1784 with funds contributed by local citizens at the request of the Rev. Samuel Buell, the pastor of the East Hampton Presbyterian Church.
This remarkable academy was a co-educational institution preparing young men for college or for careers such as seafaring or surveying. Young women were schooled in spiritual reading and the finer points of being a lady.
The first headmaster, Reverend Buell, gave instruction in Latin as well as Greek and French. Students came from a broad range of places including Long Island, New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well as from the West Indies.
After the state dissolved the chartered academy system, Clinton became a community center, a playhouse, town offices, and briefly housed The East Hampton Star.
This late Georgian-style building was restored in 1921 by Lorenzo E. Woodhouse.
Today, visitors can enjoy changing art and history exhibitions in this building. Our 2018 exhibition is You're Invited: 150 Years of Parties & Picnics in East Hampton from August 11-October 8.
Visitors can also enjoy the Mimi Meehan Native Plant Garden behind the Academy, a project of the Garden Club of East Hampton. The garden is accessible during daylight hours - simply enter the gate located to the left of the Academy porch!
Unique among Long Island buildings, the Town House is the only existing town government meeting place to survive from the Colonial period on Long Island.
The Town Trustees who met there determined the affairs of the township by collecting taxes, passing local laws, administering public lands, maintaining the church and schoolhouse, and hiring the minister and teacher.
The Town House is the earliest surviving one-room schoolhouse on Long Island. Studies were very basic: reading, writing, and enough arithmetic to keep an accounts book. Teachers rarely had a very extensive education and there were virtually no textbooks or paper to use; learning was accomplished by copying on slate.
After 1845, the building continued to be used as a meeting place for the Town Trustees. It was later used as a barbershop, an interior decorator's studio, and the town welfare headquarters during the Depression. In 1958, the East Hampton Historical Society acquired and moved the Town House to a lot adjacent to the Clinton Academy.
This beautiful tiny Georgian designed frame building has been moved about East Hampton Village since it was built almost two and a quarter centuries ago. Found, several years ago, on North Main Street, this building may have been a school, private library, or lawyer’s office. Quite elegant in detail and proportion, it was saved from destruction and situated behind our Town House. It has been restored to reflect mid-18th-century hornbook schooling as well as an unusual desk arrangement that is described in our early town records.