Throwback Thursday – Property Management

An aerial photograph of the Anchorage Inn off West Lake Drive shows an abundance of eelgrass beds, particularly at the shoreline. Photographer unknown, 1970s. | Montauk Library Archives
Osborne’s Island, which is owned by the public, is just north of Old West Lake Drive. Photographer unknown, 1970s. | Montauk Library Archives

A small collection of color and black-and-white aerial photographs of the west side of Lake Montauk is included in the Montauk Library Archives. Because they were taken in the 1970s, prior to many subdivisions and developments in the 1980s and beyond, they could be useful to illustrate what have undoubtedly been shrinking swaths of eelgrass, wetlands, and trees in the lake and on the shore.

The Anchorage Inn & Restaurant, above, was situated on almost five acres of tidal wetland on a property that also had more than two acres of bottomland. June C. Hansen opened the restaurant, which also had a 10-unit motel, in 1978. The establishment served food and drink with a lakeside view but also drew complaints about loud music and underaged customers.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Joseph Oppenheimer was developing or seeking approval for projects all across Montauk, including the Montauk Surf Club condominiums, Lakeside Estates, and at the Montauk Playhouse. He bought the Anchorage property in 1990 and applied to subdivide it into three residential lots. The former restaurant was converted into a private home in 1999 and in 2007 it was sold to Michael and Michelle Walrath (who bought the Surf Lodge in 2012), then demolished and rebuilt. 

The second photograph shows Osborne’s Island, which the Montaukets knew as Wattuquasset, meaning, enigmatically, “at or near the poles of a haystack. “

The island was formerly owned by David Edwards and Thomas Osborn of East Hampton. By 1975 it was in possession of Gertrude and George Andrade, who was the manager of the Montauk Beach Company. Like Oppenheimer, Andrade was for decades extremely active in Montauk real estate development, and he donated Osborne’s Island and surrounding wetlands to East Hampton Town, in the process creating two building lots on the west side of the lake from 20 acres of underwater and mainland property. 

“The Town owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Andrade for this really beautiful gift,” Councilwoman Mary Fallon said at the time, calling the island a “beautiful wildlife area,” according to the East Hampton Star.

Do you have more recent photographs of Lake Montauk’s western shore? It would be interesting to compare them to these 1970s photographs to get a sense of what changes have occurred since then. 

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