Collection Facts

Extent: 
291 items
Collection Owner:

Historical Context

This collection documents Richard T. Gilmartin’s contributions as an avid historian, and a popular sports fisherman, a spokesperson for the handicapped, and an engaged civic leader. He served as East Hampton Town Clerk from 1931 to 1940; Commissioner of Welfare, Suffolk County from 1941 to 1949 and Supervisor East Hampton Town from 1958 to 1959.

Born in 1904 in East Hampton, New York to Thomas Daly Gilmartin and Emma Julia Maran, Richard Timothy Gilmartin grew up on a 20-acre farm on Acabonac Road, not far from Holy Trinity Church Cemetery where he is buried.

Upon graduation from Fordham University in 1925, he became Secretary of the Pierson Construction Co. in Montauk. In 1927, he married Winifred O’Brien. In 1930 he opened the Richard Gilmartin Insurance Agency, specializing in Commercial Real Estate, which he maintained until his death. It was located in an annex of the “office tower” built by Carl Fisher.

When an auto accident left him crippled in 1944, Mr. Gilmartin spent two years rehabilitating himself at New York Institute for Crippled and Disabled. He went on to become a founding trustee of President Eisenhower’s Commission on the Handicapped and lead the way for Skills Unlimited, which opened in Islip in 1955. He worked hard to support employment for the disabled.

Richard T. Gilmartin had a great passion for history. During his tenure as East Hampton Town Clerk he implemented preservation, indexing and cataloging of leather-bound East Hampton Trustees journals from 1648-1955 that remain a popular resource for researchers. In his role as the first President of the newly formed Montauk Historical Society in 1963, Mr. Gilmartin initiated house tours of architecturally important buildings in Montauk, and mentored a History Group for young people. Some of those History Group members are still alive today, and have been as actively involved in preserving Montauk’s history as Gilmartin was in own his lifetime. Their dedication is Mr. Gilmartin’s legacy.

Scope of Collection

The collection, donated by Gilmartin’s daughter Barbara Sullivan and son Timothy Gilmartin, is one of the largest in the Montauk Library, numbering well over 1,000 items.

Very briefly, its contents comprise personal photographs, as well as photographs of political campaigns, community ceremonies and celebrations, and photographs of Montauk’s military history, including World War I dirigibles and biographical information about General Norman T. Kirk.

Business correspondence includes papers from the Richard T. Gilmartin Insurance Agency, the office of East Hampton Town Supervisor, and the Office of the Commissioner of Welfare.

A stunning postcard collection of early Montauk views, as well as many rare advertising booklets and pamphlets, are part of the donation.

Gilmartin’s notes for a history of Montauk he was writing when he died in 1964 are also important.

So far, the photographs and postcards have been scanned. The scanning of the remainder of the collection will recommence in 2022.