McCann’s Meat & Fish Market

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

As time passes, the landscape often changes. While there are certainly places in East Hampton that seem frozen in time, most would argue that much is different, and it’s fascinating to look back at what’s come and gone. Take, for example, the history of a simple storefront.

Toward Pondview Lane, on property occupied at present by Guild Hall, stood McCann’s Meat & Fish Market. Originally meat dealers, David A. Fithian and Frederick (Fred) McCann opened their shop on Main Street in 1888, with Fithian eventually selling his share in the business to McCann in 1899.

Fred McCann was born in East Hampton in 1860 to John and Annie Hodder McCann. Growing up, he had a number of jobs before opening his store — at a general store, fishing for bunker and cod, and working for the United States Lighthouse Service on Little Gull Island.

Designed by Tom Babcock, an architect, and built by George Eldredge, McCann’s market was strictly a meat market for 30 years, before changing tastes prevailed, bringing fish, fruit, and vegetables into rotation. Before the telephone became commonplace, the market sent a horse-drawn wagon door to door, and customers could choose their meats from the back of it. The store also frequently delivered fish and clams to the Maidstone Inn and lobsters to the Maidstone Club.

In 1940, Fred McCann retired after 52 years at the market, and the business was subsequently closed. He died in Florida at the age of 87. 

Myrtle Shepard eventually bought the McCann Meat & Fish Market building and used it as a summer home for several years. It was acquired by Guild Hall in 1964. The structure was razed, and Guild Hall has since expanded.

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