Explore History & Haunts at the Port of Missing Men

Stern of boat building, Port of Missing Men
Stern of boat building, Port of Missing Men
Southampton History Museum Collection

The Southampton History Museum is offering special access to one of the East End’s most storied, and haunted, homes, the Port of Missing Men, on Saturday, October 22 for a tour and ghost hunt.

One of the last surviving Gilded Age mansions, the home’s interior has remained unchanged since the 1920s, when it was a getaway for H.H. Rogers Jr. and his buddies who would escape their families who summered in Southampton and disappear together to hunt game and do what men do when unfettered by wives and children. Rumor has it their duck blinds were connected to Wall Street so the men could continue making deals and do their work while avoiding other, more domestic responsibilities.

Builder of the Port of Missing Men, Col. Henry Huttleston Rogers II’s father was Gilded Age industrialist and robber baron Henry Huttleston “Hell-Hound” Rogers of Standard Oil, who was once named America’s wealthiest man. He left $50,000,000 to his children, according to his 1909 obituary in The New York Times, and the Port of Missing Men was constructed in 1910 from the fruits of that inheritance.

Chapel at Port of Missing Men
Chapel at Port of Missing Men, Photo: Averitt Buttry

Situated near Conscience Point and designed by John Russell Pope, the estate was created on more than 2,000 acres on the Great Peconic Bay as a hunting lodge, and it remains occupied by the Rogers family scions, though the vast property has diminished to a still-significant 600 acres over the years. It may be the last Gilded Age mansion on Long Island owned by the original family, and it’s a rare treat to visit its historic halls.

At 5 p.m. on Saturday, the current owner will lead a few special guests through the extensive private quarters that leads to a Prohibition era bar — there was a bootleggers’ drop nearby. Then, at 6 p.m., the cocktail party begins in the Great Room and the ghost hunt commences in a guest wing built in 1661 by a Southampton pioneering family that is now part of the complex.

Long Island Paranormal Investigators (LIPI), an experienced group that’s been operating since 2003, will lead the ghost hunt for guests at the Port of Missing Men, which is said to be quite haunted. LIPI uses a variety of electronic devices and audio and video recording equipment to measure and capture any signs of the paranormal, and guests will join them in the search for long dead denizens of the lodge.

The pool at the Port of Missing Men, Southampton
The pool at the Port of Missing Men, Southampton (from @mansionsofthegildedage on Instagram)

Homeowner and widow of Rogers family descendent Peter Salm, Countess Wiltraud von Salm-Hoogstraeten, or Willi Salm — who is host for Saturday evening — once told The Southampton Press, “All my guests have seen a ghost in there,” about the 17th century wing where the investigation will take place. She described an apparition of a girl in a white dress, which could make sense considering a number of children supposedly died there.

For those who are more interested in things of a corporeal nature, the Port of Missing Men will be something special to behold, and a rare opportunity to step into the past.

Southampton History Museum executive director Tom Edmonds says, “This is a unique opportunity to search for hidden spirits in one of the last Gilded Age mansions still owned by the original family.”

Proceeds from this event will fund the Southampton History Museum’s ongoing maintenance on four separate properties with 14 historic buildings and free education programs for everyone. Address and arrival instructions will be provided upon purchase of tickets.

Visit southamptonhistory.org for tickets and info.

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