Carl Fisher built the Indianapolis Speedway and was the driving force behind our nation’s first coast-to-coast road, the Lincoln Highway. He created Miami Beach from a mangrove swamp and built the Dixie Highway so that motorists could get there by car. And the enormous scope of his work in Montauk included blasting an inlet from the Block Island Sound into a freshwater lake to create a safe, deep-water harbor.
Today he is no longer a household name. But his rags-to-riches-to-rags-again story is not only emblematic of 20th century America, it is forever woven into the past, present, and future of Montauk.
That’s because, more than any other individual in our history, Carl Fisher was responsible for creating the Montauk we all know today. When he bought approximately 10,000 unspoiled acres here, shortly after his successful development of Miami Beach, it was with the idea of creating a summer resort like no other. He was not a man for half-measures, so he set to work to create roads and infrastructure (including the water system) and tens of buildings, including churches, shops, luxury and employee housing, the Montauk Manor, a school, a golf club, a surf club, a yacht club, a 7-story office building, a racetrack…and his own home, at 44 Foxboro Road.
We were thrilled when the Town of East Hampton purchased Fisher’s beautiful and distinctive residence at the end of 2021, using Community Preservation Funds. We look forward to working with the Town to create a museum space that will provide educational and entertaining exhibits and programs, bringing to life Montauk’s history during the tumultuous 1920s and 1930s – twenty years that took our nation from Prohibition and rumrunning to the Great Depression and the rumblings of World War – while here in Montauk, Carl Fisher was putting his indelible stamp on our little hamlet.