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Crazy Facts and Historical Photos of Windmills on Long Island

Written by Ls Cohen  |  26. June 2020

Back in the day, windmills were workhorses of industry, converting the bay and ocean wind into energy to power the machinery that milled grain for Colonial-era Long Islander farmers. The surviving windmills on Long Island are said to all be smock mills, a specific type of windmill, generally hexagonal or octagonal buildings with a rotating cap. These mills were surprisingly portable and many made the rounds of the east end of Long Island before finding their final resting spots where, sources say 11 survive from the 18th and 19th century.

 

According to a New York Time article, Long Island is said to be home to more historic windmills than any other part of the country. The first recorded example of a windmill being built on Long Island was in 1644 in Southold. A full list of existing windmills on Long Island can also be found here.

 

Below we present some historical pictures and facts about Long Island windmills.

 

Gardiner's Island Windmill, Built Late 1700s - This image was scanned from the files of the Springs Historical Society/Library. On the back of the image, it is noted that this windmill was built by Nathaniel Dominy V. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. According to records, of the 11 surviving 18th and early 19th century windmills on Long Island, the Gardiner's Island Windmill is one of the least altered. The mill is one of 4 extant windmills built by Nathaniel Dominy V, a prominent East Hampton craftsman. Dominy rebuilt the mill in 1815, and the work of that date is some of the most advanced millwriting technology found in a Long Island windmill.

 

Creator: Unknown; Location: Gardiner's Island--East Hampton--Suffolk County--New York; Date of Original: 1940?-1980? This material was lent to the Long Island Collection by the Springs Historical Society Library for digitization purposes. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Gardiner's Island Windmill - View of white windmill on Gardiner's Island.

 

Date:1989? For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Hurricane of 1938 - View of Windmill, after the hurricane of 1938, in Water Mill, N.Y.

 

Date: 1938. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Lathrop Brown House, Montauk, before 1935 - This photograph of the Lathrop Brown House was donated to the Long Island Collection sometime before 1935, based on accession registers. It is likely the photograph was taken in the 1920s or 1930s, based on the type of print produced, but there is nothing else available to date the image.

 

A man, in what appears to be overalls, is visible in front of the house. In 1942, the windmill was moved to the Georgica Association in Wainscott, and the cottage was moved near Gurney's Inn by D. Stewart Inglehart, and purchased in 1955 by a Miss Cousins. The garage was moved to Montauk Fishing Village by Mary Smith. Lathrop Brown died in Florida in 1959, moving there for his later years.

 

Additional information about the windmill from the Montauk Library: Built in 1813, the windmill was moved to Wainscott in the 1850s. Lathrop Brown purchased the windmill in 1922 and moved it to Montauk. In 1942 the windmill was moved to Georgica Association in East Hampton.

 

Date: 1920?-1935? For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Home Sweet Home and Mill, East Hampton, L.I. - Postcard image of the Pantigo windmill and Home Sweet Home, in East Hampton, Long Island

 

The Harvey Ginsberg Post Card Collection. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Old Hook Mill, East Hampton, L.I. postcard image - Postcard image of the Old Hook windmill, in East Hampton, L.I. According to documents, the Hook WIndmill was built in 1806. It was the last wind-powered gristmill constructed in the village of East Hampton. Built by Nathaniel Dominy V, who was also the millwright of the Gardiner Island Windmill and the Shelter Island Windmill, the Old Hook Windmill was operated commercially for a century, ceasing operation in 1908. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

 

The Harvey Ginsberg Post Card Collection. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Windmill at Wainscott - View of windmill in Wainscott, New York.

 

For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Windmill at Wainscott on the "Mill Hill" -  View of windmill on "Mill Hill" in Wainscott, New York, before its removal to Montauk, New York. 

 

For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Beebe Windmill, Bridgehampton, Berwind Estate - View of Beebe Windmill on the Berwind Estate in Bridgehampton, New York. According to a Southampton Town pamphlet, the Beebe Windmill was built on Sleight’s Hill in Sag Harbor in 1820 for Lester Beebe, a retired whaling captain and shipbuilder. The mill was moved multiple times. Ultimately, in 1915, John E. Berwind, an affluent Bridgehampton summer resident, bought the mill and moved it to the grassy green next to Minden, his summer estate. It was restored by Southampton Town in the early 1980s and again in the early 2000s.

 

For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Beebe Windmill, Bridgehampton, Berwind Estate - Another picture of the Beebe Windmill on the Berwind Estate in Bridgehampton, New York.

 

For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Gardiner Windmill at Mulford Farm - Shown here is the windmill at Mulford Farm. This photograph was either taken or collected by Amagansett historian and librarian Carleton Kelsey.

 

Date: 1977-08. This photograph is part of the collection of the Carleton Kelsey Collection of the Amagansett Historical Association. Kelsey was a local historian and librarian who collected photographs from others to add to the many photographs he took of the community himself. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Dominy's Windmill, East Hampton, L.I. postcard image - Postcard image of Dominy's Old Hook Mill, in East Hampton, L.I.

 

The Harvey Ginsberg Post Card Collection. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

 

Hayground Windmill, Windmill Lane, East Hampton, Suffolk County, NY - According to the New York Times, this windmill was built in 1809. It became a tearoom in 1919 after more than a hundred years of grinding grain. Artist Agnes Pelton used it as a studio in the 1920's and it was moved to the Dowling property off Further Lane in 1950.

 

No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government. Library of Congress.

 

Hayground Windmill, Windmill Lane, East Hampton, Suffolk County, NY - CAP; CONICAL CAP HAS BOWED RAFTERS MORTISED INTO A BOSS; ALSO SEEN ARE THE BRAKE WHEEL, WINDSHAFT AND TOP BEARING OF THE UPRIGHT SHAFT

 

No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government. Library of Congress.

 

The Windmill Cottage, East Hampton, L.I. postcard image - Postcard image of the windmill cottage, in East Hampton, Long Island. According to this article, Robert Downey Jr. is now the owner of the iconic East Hampton windmill cottage. Of note is that this was never a real working windmill but a facsimile of one that was built in East Hampton. It was built in the late 1800s.

 
 

 

The Harvey Ginsberg Post Card Collection. For educational use only. The East Hampton Library, Long Island Collection.

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