Local History

Information, News, and features from Montauk Library’s local history collection.

Throwback Thursday – Blessing of the Fleet

The annual Blessing of the Fleet became part of Montauk culture after Vinny Grimes witnessed a similar ceremony during his tenure with the U.S.  Navy.  In 1955, the Montauk community supported Grimes’ idea of creating a blessing ceremony for fishermen’s vessels. On June 7, 1956, the East Hampton Star ran a notice alerting the public… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Richard T. Gilmartin

If Montauk ever produced a Renaissance man, it was Richard T. Gilmartin. An insurance businessman who entered politics and fought for people with disabilities, he loved history and surfcasting and shared his passion for both.  Richard Gilmartin had started writing a history of Montauk when he died suddenly in 1964.  The loss of Gilmartin’s knowledge base was like… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Memorial Day Weekend

The Memorial Day weekend is upon us, which means the unofficial start of the summer season has begun. This picture radiates positive energy, and seems a good omen for Summer 2021.  Will the era of social distancing finally come to an end? This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph was donated to the archives by Herb Herbert when Joan… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Fishing at Fort Pond Bay Village

There are quite a few postcard views of this Fort Pond Bay scene that date from the early 1900s, but this one is a little different because it looks more closely cropped, as if a camera were positioned high, maybe on the mast of a boat.  The close angle offers a sense of intimacy, reminding… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Pet Month

May is National Pet Month.  An early Montauk resident, architect Andrew J. Thomas, was an animal lover known for the “personal zoo” he kept on his Spanish-style estate overlooking Fort Pond Bay.  On August 9, 1929, the East Hampton Star published this report about the exotic menagerie residing on the estate grounds after visiting with the… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Celebrating the Long Island Potato!

In 1937 the first annual Long Island Potato Festival took place in Riverhead, on the grounds of the Suffolk County Agricultural Society. It was advertised nationally as “the Long Island potato growers answer to the thousands of dollars being spent for publicity by other potato-producing states,” and was called the “first, constructive campaign to be conducted on… Read more »

Throwback Thursday – Camp Wikoff

In 1899, almost a year after the Rough Riders left Montauk’s  Camp Wikoff, the government decided to sell its property sitting unused at the vacant camp.  “The site of Camp Wikoff is to be sold at auction,” reported the Ogdensberg Journal.  “The property consists of one quartermaster’s warehouse, one commissary storehouse, four detention camp buildings, 22 hospital… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Earth Day

TBT image:   Giorgina Reid fights erosion on the Lighthouse bluffs, from the Al Holden collection. Today is Earth Day, its 51st birthday.  Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson kick-started the event on April 22, 1970, after observing the sickening results of a California oil spill the year before. “Twenty million Americans were inspired by Earth Day— at… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Bicycle Race

Although cyclists ride year-round, springtime is the season associated with outdoor athletics.  This photograph from the collection of Al Holden was donated with the information, “Bike race start at Gosman’s.”  Although undated, most likely this photograph was taken in the late 1970s.  George Watson, owner of the Dock, began launching annual athletic events from his… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Fort Pond Bay in 1945

What did Fort Pond Bay look like before a village was established at the harbor’s center?  Even the earliest photographs we have of Rough Riders arriving in ships show buildings and houses already established in the area.  This Kodachrome slide of Fort Pond Bay looking north toward Culloden Point was taken by Harry Bruno in… Read more »