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.  In this example, the application of the inks is poor.  The resolution is off-kilter.  Yet, the colors are still luminescent; the image speaks volumes about lazy summer days spent beachcombing rocks and shells.

A fascination with the Montauk Lighthouse was the impetus for Bob Lamparter’s interest in collecting postcards.  Most of the 173 scanned views in this collection were donated to the archives by his daughter Keri.  In this postcard the Montauk Lighthouse is out of view but in fact, is located directly above the figures below.  The Lathrop Brown Windmill House is in the distance.

From the Arcadia book, Images of America: Montauk, page 71, we learn that Congressman Lathrop Brown (1883-1959) bought the windmill that had been functioning as the Wainscott Library from 1912 to 1922 and moved it to his property on the cliffs near Montauk Point.  He hired architects to incorporate the windmill into a summer cottage that would also use the unique structure as a design inspiration.  It stood on the cliffs until 1942, when the army removed it as a wartime precaution.

Lighthouse Keeper Thomas Buckridge (keeper from 1930 to 1943) had a daughter, Margaret Buckridge Bock.  She provided an amusing anecdote about the family’s summer neighbors, the Lathrop Browns, in a piece she wrote as a preface to the Keeper’s Log maintained by her father:  “Our other summer neighbors, the Lathrop Browns, lived in the windmill cottage, which was moved to make way for Camp Hero.  Mr. Brown was a classmate of President Franklin Roosevelt.  Every summer, the Browns entertained disabled war veterans for two weeks.  We used to visit at the windmill occasionally.  I remember one time that my father had a hard time to find a chair to sit on.  Several times as he went to sit down, Mr. Brown said, ‘Not that one, Tom.  That’s a fragile antique.’”

Congressman Brown donated the windmill to the Georgica Association.  In 1978, it was entered in the National Historic Register.  Margaret Buckridge Bock turned 100 years old in September 2019.  A resident of Connecticut living in the old family homestead, her inquiring and history-loving mind was still going strong in October 2019, when she was interviewed by 27East.  Bock’s research has benefited several historical societies in Connecticut, as well as the Montauk Historical Society.  In fact, for more than 80 years she has maintained a beautiful relationship with the Lighthouse staff.  She left in 1938 to pursue a degree in nursing, but she never forgot her beloved Montauk home.

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