THE MONTAUK LIGHTHOUSE MUSEUM
The museum, which is located in the 1860 Keepers’ house, displays an assortment of many historical documents, and photographs.
The Museum Parlor features a display case containing two documents. One is signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and is the Congressional authorization, approved by President George Washington in 1792, to construct a lighthouse at Montauk Point. The second, signed by President George Washington in 1796, authorized the federal purchase of land from the Montauk Proprietors for the purpose of building a lighthouse at Montauk Point.
The Gilmartin Galleries is home to an exhibit to whaling industry artifacts from the 19th century. The artifacts were also used in one of the last whale hunts conducted from shore in Wainscott in 1907.
- Parlor – On display in the keepers’ parlor are Montauk Point Lighthouse drawings and photographs.
- Originally Lighthouse Keeper’s Bedroom – This room served as the Head Keeper’s bedroom from 1860 to 1943. Today it is used to display four models of the Montauk Point Lighthouse and its terrain. They depict the structural changes that occurred between 1796 and 1943. They also show the devastating effects of erosion on the bluff known as Turtle Hill. This room has been dedicated in honor of Giorgina Reid, who initiated the “Erosion Control” program at the Lighthouse in 1970. Driving from Rocky Point, L. I. each week for more than 15 years, Giorgina and her husband Donald Reid successfully fought off erosion with her patented method of reed-trench terracing.
- Central Hallway – The central hallway first built in 1860 and later enlarged, connects the Keepers’ Dwelling to the oil room and tower. On display is a one-of-a-kind museum exhibit, “Lighthouses Surrounding Long Island.” The model, 15′ long and 4′ wide, depicts 28 light stations from Manhattan to Point Judith, Rhode Island.
- Communications Room – This was the communicaiton center for the lighthouse where weather and radio beacon signals were transmitted. Emergency distress calls were received and rescue units were notified from here. It currently houses exhibits pertaining to the lighthouse keepers.
- Oil Room – Once used to store cisterns of whale oil and supplies for the lighthouse, this room is the location of the only entrance and exit to the tower. On display is the original 3 1/2 Order Bivalve Fresnel lens. The lens was placed into service in 1903 and removed on February 3, 1987 when the lighthouse was automated.
- The Tower – A spiral staircase (128 steps) climbs 86 feet to the watch deck where visitors may view the new light in the lantern room.
- Second Assistant Keeper’s Quarters – Once the living quarters for the first assistant keeper and the former site of the museum’s gift shop, these rooms currently house the four-room exhibit “Where Land Meets Sea & Sky: Exploring Montauk History through the Richard T. Gilmartin Galleries.” The lighthouse gift shop and visitor center is now located at the bottom of the hill at the entrance to the lighthouse grounds.
(Note: Directly above the second assistant keeper’s quarters is located the apartment of the first assistant keeper. This area is not accessible to the public).