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S. Shore of Long Island Historical Driving Tour - Amagansett to Montauk Point
Item 6 of 9

One of the seven cottages north of DeForest Road (the sixth, east of the East End intersection, before the road dead ends at the seventh cottage) was built in 1882 for Robert and Henry G. DeForest. The cottage was purchased by Arlene Momeyer as a summer residence in 1949 and was still owned by her in the 1970s. The DeForest-Momeyer Cottage is one of seven historic cottages within the Montauk Association Historic District, listed in 1976. The association was formed by a group of wealthy New Yorkers in 1881 to create a private summer retreat. The complex once contained a community laundry and stables; the outbuildings were no longer standing by the 1970s. The centrally located clubhouse burned down in 1933. The "Seven Sisters" cottages remain in this private enclave, including the Hoyt-Smith Cottage (also a Clio entry).

South elevation of DeForest-Momeyer Cottage in 1975 for N.Y.S. Building Inventory Form (Beebe & Momeyer 1975)

Building, Plant, Sky, Window

1970s plat with 1882 Montauk Assn. boundaries; DeForest-Momeyer Cottage marked in blue (Beebe & Momeyer 1975)

Slope, Map, Font, Pattern

W elevation of DeForest-Momeyer Cottage in 1975 photo by L.A. Beebe for NRHP nomination of district

Plant, Window, Sky, Black

North elevation of DeForest-Momeyer Cottage in 1975 photo for NYS form (Beebe & Momeyer 1975)

Plant, Building, Sky, Property

Montauk Assn. Historic District boundaries marked on ca. 1970s U.S.G.S. topo map (Beebe & Momeyer 1975)

Map, World, Font, Line

The Montauk Association was formed in 1881 by Arthur Benson, a financier from Brooklyn, and six of his wealthy friends as a private summer retreat. Benson had purchased over 100 acres of pastureland in 1879 in a region of Montauk that was known as Ditch Plains, paying $150.000. The landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead drew up plans for the retreat, with roads following natural topography and cottage sites that took advantage of views of the ocean to the south. The seven original owners had cottages built in 1882 to 1883; all were designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Shingle style. Each cottage was modest but unique; none was grander than its neighbors and each was surrounded by largely unmodified open space. The wood frame cottages tend to be rambling with gable roofs, shingle coverings, and wide verandas on the south to catch the ocean breezes across their private beach and salt marsh.

Robert and Henry DeForest were attorneys and part of the original group with their friend, Benson. The DeForest Cottage is clapboarded on the first floor and covered in shingles on the upper one-and-one-half stories. A veranda on the main (south side) ends in a polygonal projection; the veranda was enclosed in the twentieth century. The house has two ornate brick chimneys and patterned shingles.

The new owner of the DeForest Cottage in 1925 was multimillionaire Carl Graham Fisher (1874-1939). A real estate developer who essentially founded Miami Beach, Fisher touted 10,000 acres he purchased east of the Montauk Association in 1925 as the future "Miami of the North." The Stock Market crash in 1929 and the Great Depression brought an end to the development of Fisher's golf course resort at Montauk, and the Montauk Beach Development Corporation declared bankruptcy in 1934. Fisher died in 1939. The cottages at the Montauk Association also were closed up and abandoned for many years. With post-World War II prosperity, vacationers returned to Montauk and the seven cottages again became private summer homes, although many of the original seven families no longer owned them.

One of the seven cottages, the Orr House, burned down in 1997 but was reconstructed in 2000 using similar materials and design so is still considered historic. The Town Board of the Town of East Hampton created guidelines in 2004 for new construction within the Montauk Association Historic District and modifications to the seven historical cottages. The other six cottages are along DeForest Road and include: Agnew House (101 DeForest Road); Benson House (115); Sanger House (123); Hoyt House (129, also a Clio entry); Andrews House (153); and Orr House (181).

The Association's Clubhouse, completed in 1883, was centrally located among the cottages, on the south side of DeForest Road; it burned down in 1933. Each cottage was connected to the clubhouse by a footpath; many of the owners' meals were eaten in the clubhouse. The clubhouse was on a hillock with a large front lawn extending to the ocean and a rear wing built into the slope. A house (139 DeForest) was built a few feet south of the former clubhouse site in 1962, oriented the same way as the clubhouse. Four more non-historic houses have been built within the bounds of the Montauk Association Historic District. Stables and a laundry building were part of the original retreat but those outbuildings are now gone. The southwestern-most portion of the original association property was developed by the 1970s with houses, public recreational areas, and a trailer park and was excluded from the historic district.

Clarke, Katherine. Inside the Moneyed Montauk Enclave Where Time Stands Still, Journal. August 1st 2019. Accessed July 13th 2021.

Gordon, Alistair. Weekend Utopia: Modern Living in the Hamptons. Princeton, NJ. Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.

Living Places. Montauk Association Historic District, East Hampton Town, Suffolk County, NY. January 1st 2021. Accessed July 9th 2021.

Momeyer, Arlene. Beebe, L. A. Building-Structure Inventory Form for DeForest (Robert & Henry) Cottage, Montauk, N.Y.. Albany, NY. Division for Historic Preservation, New York State Parks and Recreation, 1973.

Town of East Hampton. Zoning Appendix D: Montauk Association Historic District Guidelines, eCode360. October 19th 2004. Accessed July 9th 2021.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

New York State Cultural Resource Information System (NYS CRIS):