The Old Station, New Again

Item of the Week From the East Hampton Library Long Island Collection

With the imminent approach of summer here on the East End, many of us are already weighing our transportation options. Whether you’re a commuter, day tripper, or homeowner, deciding on the where, when, and how of your travel plans can seem like a chess game. 

With the recent implementation of the South Fork Commuter Connection between Speonk and Montauk, you may have considered using the train instead of driving. One of the stops along this route is the East Hampton station on Railroad Avenue between Newtown and Race Lanes, which is seen in the postcard image here.

The station was built in 1895 on a lot belonging to David J. Gardiner, which he sold for $1,400. It was chosen over another proposed location, a lot belonging to Charles R. Dayton along Route 114.

According to the June 21, 1895, edition of The East Hampton Star, the depot building was to be made of brick and slate, and the station proper was to be “forty feet long, with extension roofs forty feet long on either side.” There were also plans for “ornamental elevations and trimmings,” which can be seen with the planting of flowers in the photo’s foreground. 

Across the street, buildings belonging to the East Hampton Lumber and Coal Company can be seen, where coal was once brought in by railroad cars on the yard’s own track. Riverhead Building Supply now occupies the space. A horse and carriage can also be seen standing in front of the station building, waiting to take passengers to their intended destinations.

It appears that by the 1940s the station’s red brick was painted white and its wooden platform was replaced with a concrete one. In 2000, the station was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It was restored to its original red and green colors in 2017 as part of a $120 million state project renovating numerous Long Island Rail Road stations. 

Though the railroad helped bring a large influx of visitors to East Hampton in the early 20th century (creating a rooming shortage), it has now become an option for easing road traffic and congestion.

Gina Piastuck is the department head of the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.