Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
MONTAUK LIGHTHOUSE + WAINSCOTT MILL, c. 1922
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Montauk Lighthouse with Wainscott Mill in foreground, c. 1922. (From the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Image © copyright Suffolk Couny Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Montauk Light was the first lighthouse built in New York State and is the fourth-oldest active lighthouse in the United States. Construction of the lighthouse was authorized by the 2nd U.S. Congress, under President George Washington, on April 12, 1792, and was completed on November 5, 1796. Ezra L’Hommedieu, who had been a member of the Continental Congress, consulted with President Washington on the lighthouse construction. Due to prevailing winds in winter, shippers approaching from sea needed a lighthouse at the tip of Long Island to guide them along the south shore into New York Harbor.
Mill at Montauk Point: In the foreground of this photograph from our East Hampton Pictorial Collection is the summer home of U.S. Representative Lathrop Brown (1922). The windmill portion of the home was built in Southampton in 1813 and moved to Wainscott in 1852; it was thereafter moved by Mr. Brown to Montauk Point in 1922. When the Brown property and other properties in Montauk were taken over by the U.S. government during World War II, the Mill at Montauk Point was returned to Wainscott. One of eleven surviving eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century wind-powered mills on Long Island, the Wainscott Windmill was added to the National Historic Register in 1978.
Surviving centuries of time, historic wooden windmills built by skilled artisans and reminiscent of old-time England dot the landscape of Suffolk County’s East End. Few of this style of windmill remain in the United States; in fact, local historians claim that Long Island holds the largest number of windmills of this type in any one place. The windmills found on our historic island were constructed in the “smock mill” style, so-called because their skirted design resembles a baker’s smock.
INFO SOURCES: Jeannette Edwards Rattray, The Old Hook Mill and Other Old English Windmills of East Hampton (Village of East Hampton, 1942); vertical file, undated newspaper clippings.
The Suffolk County Historical Society Urgently Needs Your Help!
Let’s consider the value of preserving our local history versus the cost of a cup of coffee…. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought much of our donation and grant-based funding to a halt, and we desperately need your help to survive these challenging times. For little more than the cost of a cup of coffee you can help support the rich history of Suffolk County.
WE are YOUR history preserved! Founded in 1886, some 134 years ago, and recognized as a National Landmark, the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum & Library Archives serves over 1.5 million county residents and more than 20,000 researchers, members, subscribers, and guests annually. We are Suffolk County’s primary historic research center and museum. Our collections represent the nearly 400-year history of our area and include museum artifacts, genealogies, town records, account books, diaries, photographs, letters, postcards, maps and atlases, deeds, wills, early militia records, civil war records, and so much more!
Please help us continue to serve the community as we have done for 134 years. We appreciate any donation you can spare, no matter how small. Thank you for your support!