Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
THIRD HOUSE, MONTAUK
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
House, Montauk, 1897. (From the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.) [To view the Fullerton photograph, please visit the Suffolk County Historical Society website.]
Located near Montauk Point and the Montauk Lighthouse, the original Third House was built in 1797 in Montauk, and then was rebuilt in circa 1806. It was one of three early houses in Montauk that were occupied by town-appointed overseers of livestock herds on Indian Field. The keepers of the herds were appointed annually by East Hampton Town trustees, and the arduous service was considered an honor. In the early 1800s, about six thousand sheep and cattle were grazing on Montauk pastures each summer.
By the summer of 1898, however, the land at Indian Field was dotted not with cattle but with the white tents of the U.S. Army during the Spanish American War. Third House became the headquarters for Col. Theodore Roosevelt, and nearly 30,000 soldiers were quarantined in camps sited on the hills and plains of Montauk to recuperate from wounds and disease. It was on the porch of Third House that Roosevelt learned of his nomination for the governorship of New York.
Third House still stands today and is currently the site of a nature center located at 1929 Montauk Highway, within the Theodore Roosevelt County Park.
Suggested Reading: East Hampton: A History and Guide, by Jason Epstein and Elizabeth Barlow (Wainscott, NY: Medway Press, 1975).