Montauk’s first community medical facility opened on Main Street in the summer of 1974. That’s almost half a century ago, but it would be wrong to forget the ingenuity and can-do spirit that made it possible.
Hoping to attract a full-time physician to Montauk, the Chamber of Commerce spearheaded a drive to raise money to purchase a building for a medical practice. The plan was to offer use of the building for free for at least two years, and later to give the practitioner a chance to rent for a nominal amount or to buy the building outright.
Led by Lucille Jarmain, the chamber rustled up more than $30,000 from the Montauk community in only two months, enough to purchase the former New York Telephone brick structure on Main Street. “Donations have ranged from a young man out of work who gave a dollar to checks for $1,000 from seven individuals and organizations,” Lucille Jarmain told the East Hampton Star in January of 1974.
A good chunk of the money was also raised through the sale of $100 shares of stock in a newly created Montauk Medical Group Realty Corporation. About 500 shareholders included Montauk individuals as well as organizations like the chamber and the Montauk Beach Property Owners Association.
Suffolk County kicked in another $30,000 to staff and equip the clinic. In approving the grant, the County Legislature noted that the new facility would “provide medical services to 2,000 families in the Montauk area, as well as an additional 30,000 summer residents and tourists.”
The United Montauk Medical Group opened on July 22, 1974, with Dr. Philip Henry, a general surgeon from Connecticut, at the helm. Fourteen patients and one emergency call were handled on the first day, according to the Star. Today, the Montauk community continues to be served by a clinic, now operating as Meeting House Lane Medical Practice, in the same building.
Standing outside the building in the photo are Lucille Jarmain, holding the keys, with William Carew and John McGowan, local attorneys who volunteered their services, State Assembly Speaker Perry B. Duryea Jr., who cut the ribbon, and Charles W. Phillips, division manager for the New York Telephone Company. Following the transfer of the building deed and keys, on March 7, 1974, about 50 people celebrated over lunch at Gurney’s.
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