The summer of 2019 was the last summer that the Sisters of Mercy spent vacation time and retreats in Mercy Villa on Rose Hill Road in Water Mill. The sisters had been spending summers there for 75 years. This summer, the sisters had to leave the property because of structural problems in the building.
At the end of the 1800s and early 1900s, the Mecox Inn provided a vacation place for the people of that time. The owner of the Mecox Inn donated the house and property to the Diocese of Brooklyn in the early 1900s. When the Sisters of Mercy vacation house in Center Moriches went out to sea during the 1938 hurricane, the diocese permitted the Sisters of Mercy to use the Mecox Inn house.
During World War II, the Army took over the property and built a barracks, which stayed there until 1997. It served as a chapel for the sisters at one time and later as a game room.
During the last week each summer, as the sisters went back to prepare for teaching school, they let the Vincentian priests use the house for the last week. The Vincentians would then close the house for the winter. They hung the big green shutters on the windows to protect the house. (The Vincentian priests are the same religious community that ministers to all the Latinos on the East End. Father Steve always spoke of his happy time in Water Mill as a young priest.)
The house wasn’t winterized and got older and older. The stairs had well-worn indents on the steps. The older sisters could no longer come to the house. The sisters had cared for the house and property over all those years, but it still belonged to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The administrator of the Sisters of Mercy at the time, Sister Virginia Farnan, approached the then-bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Francia Mugavero, asking if the property could belong to the sisters. He graciously sold it to sisters for $1.
Since the house really wasn’t usable anymore, 4 of the 8 acres were sold in order to build a new house. The beautiful new house opened in 1999. For 20 years the many sisters had wonderful experiences in the house.
From 1981 on, a group of sisters lived on the property all year round and worked in the community. They taught in Mercy High School in Riverhead. They worked in Sacred Hearts Church, were on committees for the town, worked with the immigrants and taught their children.
It is with great sadness that we had to leave Water Mill and the Town of Southampton — but I couldn’t leave without saying, “Farewell”
Sister Mary Harvey
To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.
We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.
One fine body…