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Water Mill was founded in 1644 by English colonists fleeing from the growing Massachusetts population. These settlers built a gristmill on a pond only previously known by the Shinnecock Indians. The mill became the economic and social hub of the new community. The history includes farming, whaling, hurricanes, ice boating, and ice harvesting.

The gristmill provided grain to the town of Southampton.  Edward Howell built the mill which was powered by a huge water wheel.  The millstone and dam were provided by the town. The flow of the water came fromthe Seven Ponds into Mecox Bay. Besides grain, the mill has been used to weave cloth, spin yarn, and manuacture paper. It has housed ice, a post office, an ice cream factory and a tearoom.

Nearby is the Windmill which was built in 1812 and is located on the village green.

In 2005 and 2006, Water Mill was ranked sixth in the nation for affluent areas by zip code.