It has always been assumed that the motel structure in this photograph taken by Dave Edwardes was the victim of a hurricane. However, we learned recently that the damage was actually wrought by a Nor’easter on November 6, 1953. Although we aren’t sure of this motel’s identity, we can take a guess, thanks to an East Hampton Star article that appeared on November 11, 1953.
Mrs. Elsa M. George, who was writing the “Montauk” column for the Star at the time, spoke with authority about the “surprise Nor’East storm.” Ship captains slept in their craft overnight to “tighten, loosen, or replace ropes as the moment demanded, thereby saving serious damage.” As Mrs. George also reported, “many buildings lost roofs part or whole, with shingles scattered far and wide across this end of Long Island.” For example, the Sandy Acres Motel, located on West Lake Drive and Soundview, “lost its entire roof. Seems to have been lifted right off. And … Montauk Lake Motel suffered roof damage and water damage to furnishings from the torrential rains that came pouring in.”
In a full-page ad taken out by the Montauk Motel-Hotel Association seven years later, on May 26, 1960, the name of the Sandy Acres Motel was published along with many others. But the Montauk Lake Motel did not appear on that list. Is the architectural skeleton depicted in this photo all that remained of the Montauk Lake Motel? Perhaps it was renovated, only to succumb a year later to Hurricane Carol.