Throwback Thursday – On the Brink o’ the Beach

Maude and Warren Gurney, 1932 | Albert Holden Collection | Montauk Library Archives
The Hearth Room, Gurney’s Inn on the Brink ‘o the Beach at Montauk, L.I., N.Y. The Albertype Co., Brooklyn, NY. | Hand-colored postcard postmarked Montauk June 26, 1945 | Montauk Library Archives

On the brink o’ the beach is right. The ocean hovers like a forgotten child in both these images of Gurney’s Inn. Warren and Maude Gurney managed the King Cole Hotel in Miami Beach for Carl Fisher, as well as a restaurant and inn in Forest Hills, before heading to Montauk to start a similar establishment. They leased and then bought oceanfront property from Fisher’s Montauk Beach Development Corporation — $10,000 an acre — and opened a restaurant there on August 21, 1926, even before the Montauk Manor had been completed.

Gurney’s Inn, or Guerney’s as it was sometimes called, was promoted from the get-go as being “On the Brink o’ the Beach.” The establishment seems to have been an immediate success, and hotel rooms and other expansions were added as the years advanced.

The inn was noted for its “simplicity, comfort, high quality food, and an atmosphere of restful hominess appealing to those wearied with commercial pretentiousness,” according to a Montauk Library publication, Images of America: Montauk. “It is the finest food that money will buy; it is prepared by our competent staff … and served in our attractive dining room with the Ocean at your feet,” boasted an ad in 1932 in the East Hampton Star.

Al Holden said in his Pictorial History of Montauk that, as Christian Scientists, the Gurneys forbade drinking and smoking on the premises, and guests who drank before arriving were turned away. An obituary for Warren J. Gurney in 1942, after his unexpected death in Orlando, Florida, attributed the success of Gurney’s Inn to that temperance as well as to its “excellent food” and ocean view.

Maude Gurney continued to run the establishment until 1956. Legend has it that Nick Monte visited the inn for lunch, was disappointed to find that he could not have a glass of wine “with good food and a divine view,” offered the buy the place, was refused, but then heard months later from Mrs. Gurney. Not only did Nick Monte enlarge the restaurant and add liquor to the menu, but he developed the inn into a full-blown complex and conference center with a seawater pool and a spa.

The Montes sold the resort in 2013 to an investment company whose principal owner was George Filopoulos – which went on to buy another local landmark, the Montauk Yacht Club. Carl Fisher had built that establishment on an island to serve yachtsmen and guests at the Montauk Manor. The Montauk Yacht Club opened on August 16, 1929, and in 2018 it was renamed Gurney’s Star Island Resort and Marina.

#Throwback Thursday #TBT #Gurney’s Inn #Montauk Yacht Club #Nick Monte #Carl Fisher #Montauk history

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