amagansett_life_saving_stationWhen the Amagansett Station was constructed on Atlantic Avenue in 1902, it was one of a network of thirty life-saving stations on the south shore of Long Island. Through each night and in bad weather the men at these stations kept watch from the lookout tower and by patrolling the beach. Discovering a ship in distress, the life-savers would perform a rescue by launching their surfboat or by firing a line to the ship and taking people off with a breeches buoy. From 1902 to 1937 the crew of the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, most of whom were experienced local fishermen and shore whalers, kept watch over this beach and rescued sailors and passengers from a number of shipwrecks. The Life-Saving Service and the Lighthouse Service were the two federal programs intended to increase the safety of coastal navigation. These two services were later joined in the U. S. Coast Guard. The Amagansett Life-Saving Station complements the Montauk Point Lighthouse in recalling that era of our maritime history when ships sailing the ocean provided the principal means of transporting goods and people in coastal America.

The Amagansett Station is also associated with a notable incident of the Second World War. Coastguardsman John Cullen had just begun a beach patrol from this station early in the morning of June 13, 1942 when he encountered four Nazi agents who had landed from a U-boat. Cullen returned to the Amagansett Station to report the incident. Later in the morning, Chief Boatswain’s Mate Warren Barnes brought into the boat room four boxes of explosives which his men had found buried in the sand. After one of the would-be saboteurs turned himself in to the FBI, the others were apprehended and tried. This Amagansett incident led to the establishment, only a month later, of the Coast Guard Beach Patrol which grew to consist of 24,000 men and was an important component of coastal defense during the war.

The Amagansett Station was abandoned after World War II and in 1966 was auctioned by the Coast Guard. Joel Carmichael purchased the station and moved it to Bluff Road where it had a new life as a residence. In 2007 the Carmichael family donated the Amagansett Life-Saving Station to the Town of East Hampton and it was moved back to its exact original location on Atlantic Avenue.

Changes made to the Amagansett Life-Saving Station since 1943 have removed or obscured a number of its important character-defining features. This report, which documents the history and architecture of the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, substantiates an accurate restoration to its appearance from when it functioned as a life-saving station up to the events of June 13, 1942. The highest priorities are to restore the porch, the boat-room doors, the 2 entrances to the dwelling, the windows and the boat room interior, where the surfboats were kept. The second priority is to treat the interior beyond the boat room. This work will not only restore the integrity of this striking utilitarian building but will also allow it to better recall the local keepers and surfmen who risked their lives rescuing shipwrecked sailors and to evoke its associations with the experiences of John Cullen and others stationed here on the morning of June 13, 1942.


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