Local History

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

Throwback Thursday- Eel Harvest

That’s fisherman Harry Clemenz spearing eels off of Star Island.  The year is 1979 and the month is February.  During the 1970s, the winters were still cold enough to freeze the lakes and ponds around Montauk. In warmer months, fishermen dredged for eel, or set eel traps and pots to catch their quarry.  Fishermen understood… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- 1950s Businesses

The Montauk Library’s archival collection includes stellar examples of aerial photography.  This overview from the Al Holden Collection is undated, but if we research the motels and businesses that appear in the picture it seems certain it was photographed in the 1950s. In fact, this aerial view beautifully documents the early years of Montauk’s booming… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Lathrop Brown Windmill House Postcard

Hand-coloring was often employed on vintage postcards, done by the manufacturer during production.  Like most early postcards, this particular view was originally transferred from a B & W photograph.  However, since postcard buyers would almost always purchase the brighter image, as early as 1902 collotype-printed postcards in B & W would gain a painterly flourish. … Read more »

Throwback Thursday- New Year’s at Shagwong Tavern

We don’t know if the gathering in this top photo took place on New Year’s Eve, but one thing we’re sure of is that Mary Williams Wood, the proprietess of the Shagwong Tavern, knew how to throw a good party.  Kathleen Warren donated these two gems. She identified the celebratory group as “Nell (Wilson), Frances,… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Christmas Card

John Gordon was a “Student Pastor” when he came to Montauk in 1936.  He appears to have held that designation for about a year, until some time in 1937 when his name appeared in the “Churches” column of the East Hampton Star without the designation “Student.”  The peaceful scene of cozy domesticity that emanates from… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Viking Fleet

A recent gift of Viking Fleet material to the archives at the Montauk Library felt like an early Christmas present bestowed by Santa himself.  The donation includes important documents relating to the evolution of the fleet, such as a 1978 Certificate from the Department of State (N.Y.), stamped with the Great Seal of New York… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- American Women’s Voluntary Service

Nellie Windsor is the woman standing underneath the pointing arrow, one of the women involved with the American Women’s Voluntary Service in Montauk.  It was important to AWVS members, like other female volunteers in organizations such as the Red Cross and the Office for Civil Defense, to participate in the war effort.    Throughout World War II, writes… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Second House

Photograph of sheep at Second House, John Van Siclen collection, donated by James Schwartz. For more than two centuries, sheep and cattle were driven to and from Montauk during the months of March and December.  The keepers who tended the livestock in Montauk lived in three houses, two of which still exist today, Second House… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Montauk Manor Before and After

A before-and-after duo are the highlight of this week’s Throwback Thursday, in which we celebrate the newly restored tower of the Montauk Manor, its coppery roof glinting in the sun. Joseph Brensnan, Montauk resident and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, shot that digital image.  The Manor’s Tower, he says, is one of its characteristic… Read more »

Throwback Thursday- Thanksgiving with the Girl Scouts

This shot from Jane Leibell’s collection of photographs donated to the Montauk Library in 2005 says everything about seasonal celebrations in November:  the Girl Scouts are at the Firehouse, and have just cooked a delicious Thanksgiving turkey!  (Although “the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” as they say). We know that a Boy… Read more »