In the 1920s, developer Carl Fisher constructed the Montauk Tennis Auditorium—the original Montauk Playhouse. Now, the Town of East Hampton owns the Playhouse. The Eastern half of the facility has been in operation since it was renovated in 2006 and currently houses nonprofit and for-profit town services. The Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation (MPCCF) has been working hard to bring new life to the rest of this historic venue. Plans are in the works for a community aquatic and cultural center.
“We have a plan to raise the necessary funds to begin construction,” says Susan Henkin, the Executive Director of MPCCF, “but it will take community effort, and once the community center is completed, our business project will be self-sustaining. We’ll be able to maintain all that we’re doing on membership and program revenue, which is huge for a nonprofit!”
The MPCCF fundraising efforts included Dan’s Papers’ culinary event ClambakeMTK on July 30 at Gurney’s Montauk. “Montauk is a beautiful and eclectic community. I’m always happy to be in the presence of our local residents, and I’m really looking forward to the food,” Henkin said before the event.
Gala for the Playhouse, the Playhouse’s signature event, is also coming up, on August 6. “We’re so excited. We’re looking forward to having Trombone Shorty, and fabulous live and silent auction prizes.”
The planned aquatic center will feature two pools: one for athletics and one for recreation.
“The pools will provide opportunities for fitness training, rehabilitation and drown-proofing,” says Henkin. “Montauk is surrounded by water on three sides, so it’s really important to have water safety training.”
Other possible uses for the pool include Mommy-and-me classes and private and group swimming lessons. “Our goal is to provide a space for families year-round, from recreation to birthday parties, as well as providing a fun place to go to on rainy days,” Henkin says.
The other component, a cultural center, will provide performance space and a meeting and activity room for theater productions, live music, conferences and community programming. “There’s going to be a larger and a smaller theater,” Henkin explains. “The smaller theater, which can hold up to 100 people, can be open for civic organizations, while other activities can take place in the large room that holds up to 250 people.”
Also included in the design is a two-story light-filled entry lobby that will be an ideal space for exhibits and art shows, while outside the beautiful grounds can be used for sculpture exhibitions.
“I think the programming will only be limited by our imagination. We’re hoping for the Montauk Playhouse to be a gathering place for local families with young children, and a place to go to for evening parties, movie nights, teen lectures, adult education series and master classes,” says Henkin.
The Montauk Playhouse could begin construction as early as next year, and the entire project will take approximately 12 to 15 months to complete. Henkin is confident that the Cultural and Aquatic Center will come together in the near future.
The Montauk Playhouse is located at 240 Edgemere Street in Montauk. For more info, visit montaukplayhouse.org or call 631-668-1124.