Summer Holidays at the Corwith House
In 1877 a brochure was compiled and distributed by the Long Island Rail Road called "Long Island and Where to Go". The brochure contained information about the train schedules, rates, destinations, sports, church denominations as well as hotels and boarding houses within 5 miles of the depot in each town on the island.
The pages on Bridgehampton include the number of trains a day (2), the rates (single fare, $2.40, excursion, $4.35) comments on the beach and pond, the Library, founded just the year before, in 1876, and a list of 35 places to board.
Since there were no hotels in Bridgehampton residents opened their houses to summer boarders. The list for Bridgehampton included the house of Willam A. Corwith and notes he could accommodate 15 boarders. Mr. and Mrs. Corwith had three daughters and there were probably 2-3 live in servants. Therefore, there were 22-23 people sleeping and eating in the Corwith House in the summer!
In the early 1880s Mr. Corwith saw he could augment his income even more by taking in more summer boarders, so he enlarged his house. (Many other families did the same thing at this time. James A. Rogers is listed as taking in 30 boarders!) Mr. Corwith added a large dining room and several bedrooms on the second floor. The boarders rented the larger family bedrooms, and the family moved to the new small bedrooms in the back. Boarders and family had to double up, 3 or 4 or more to a room. A very tight squeeze!
Up until World War 1 a horse jitney ran from in front of the Hampton House down Ocean Road to the beach. Some boarders rode the jitney and some walked the two miles to the beach. Boarders went to the beach in the morning and returned to the Corwith House for dinner at noon. The afternoons were spent reading, playing games or visiting. Supper was served in the early evening. After supper there might be a social event at the Church or at the Atlantic Hall or catching June bugs, stargazing or maybe a little spooning. Another glorious summer day has passed to be followed by a clear, rosy dawn and another summer day in Bridghampton.
At the beach at the end of Ocean Road there were changing shacks. Those who came to socialize sat under arbors made of oak saplings or walked on the sand. The swimmers would change their clothes and then take their 'sea bath'.
Think of it, in a small wooden shack the women would wriggle out of their dresses, petticoats, bloomers, camisoles, corsets and stockings and then on went the two piece bathing suit made of wool or cotton, black cotton stockings, and bathing shoes. The men would doff their jackets, ties, shirts, socks, underwear and don a two piece knit wool bathing suit.
All this before returning for dinner.