East Hampton is prized for its Currier & Ives setting. A classic Main Street is bookended on the west by the tranquil Village Pond, and on the east by Old Hook Mill, still standing – and working – after 200 years.
Founded in 1648 by English settlers who had migrated from Massachusetts, and originally called Maidstone, East Hampton Village was for centuries primarily an agricultural community. That began to change beginning in the 1870s, when affluent New Yorkers turned East Hampton into a developing summer colony, aided by the arrival of the Long Island Railroad in 1895. The Tile Club, a group of influential writers and artists, was commissioned to depict its delightful ambience in the late 19th century. East Hampton Village incorporated in 1920.
Guild Hall is the cultural center with three art galleries, art collections and a garden. Dramatic performances are held at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater, named after a local resident who was a member of the legendary Barrymore acting clan. Visiting celebrities have included First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who spent part of her childhood there.
In summer East Hampton dazzles with celebrity sightings. The annual Artist-Writers Softball Game is a longtime local tradition that also attracts big names. Summer also brings outdoor antiques shows to the Village’s spacious lawns. Hollywood arrives for the annual Hamptons International Film Festival, a grand October cinematic event held mainly at the United Artists East Hampton movie theater on Main Street.
Accommodations including B&Bs lie a short distance from bay or ocean beaches. A summer’s day can be spent on the beach swimming, or just reading a best seller from behind a pair of designer shades. Main Beach, with its dunes, foamy surf, and lifeguards on duty during summer months, regularly makes “Dr. Beach” Stephen Leatherman’s list of the top 10 beaches in the nation.
Reinvigorated by salt air and surf, you can shop, dine, or just stroll among fashionable Main Street and Newtown Lane’s art galleries, bustling eateries, gourmet shops, clothing stores and other local businesses. The Village’s Historic District sights include Clinton Academy, the first chartered secondary school in New York State; and the Home Sweet Home Museum, dedicated to the memory of 19th-century poet, playwright and actor, John Howard Payne. In the Springs section of East Hampton you’ll find the Pollock-Krasner House, a museum in the former home of world-famous Abstract Expressionist painters Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.
East Hampton Historical Society. Main Street, East Hampton. Open July – Labor Day. Operates six local historic sites and museums including Clinton Academy (C.1784), Town House (C.1731), Osborn-Jackson House (C.1740), and Mulford Farm (C.1680), all in East Hampton, as well as the Town Marine Museum in Amagansett and the Boat Shop in Three Mile Harbor. (631-324-6850).
Guild Hall Museum of East Hampton. 158 Main Street, East Hampton. Open year-round. A fine arts museum with changing exhibitions, primarily on artists of the region; lectures, films, music, special events and John Drew Theater. (631-324-0806)
Home Sweet Home Museum. 14 James Lane, East Hampton. Open year-round. C.1680 saltbox house museum with Buek collection of English ceramics, American furniture, and textiles. Guided tours on collections, and 19th-century poet, playwright and actor, John Howard Payne; also 1804 Pantigo Mill and 1806 Old Hook Mill. (631-324-0713)
LongHouse Reserve. Hands Creek Rd., East Hampton. Open May – Labor Day. Dedicated to art in all its forms, this 16-acre site features a house full of art with an ethnographic and handicraft tone. LongHouse Gardens features landscaped art. Lectures and garden tours are scheduled during the summer. (631-329-3568)
Old Hook Mill. North Main Street, East Hampton. Open July and August, grounds accessible year-round. Built in 1806, the mill is still in working condition. (631-324-0713)
Pollock-Krasner House. 830 Springs-Fireplace Road, East HamptonOpen May 1 --October 31. The former home of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, two of the foremost Abstract Expressionist painters. The national historic landmark features a permanent exhibit about the artists and changing exhibits by guest artists. (631-324-4929)
Parks & Recreation
Cedar Point County Park
(608 Acres), East Hampton. Hiking, picnicking, camping, rowboat rentals, saltwater fishing, hunting, scuba diving, swimming, bicycling and outer beach recreational use. (631-852-7620)
Main Beach, East Hampton Village Beach (public parking available for daily fee, weekdays only) Northwest Harbor County Park (362 acres), off Swamp Road, East Hampton—Hiking, bow hunting in season, permits required. (631-324-4150)
For more information, call the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce at 631-324-0362 or visit www.easthamptonchamber.com