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Old Hamptons: Shuttered haunts that are reminders of days before the glitz and glamour

The Hamptons are known for their sprawling mansions, beautiful beaches and picturesque towns. But over the years, there were funky stalwarts that tried to hold on through all the booms -- but eventually gave in and shut their doors.

From the Ronjo in Montauk to the Swamp in Wainscott, here are some haunts that we loved that are no more.

Bulova Watchcase Factory, Sag Harbor

Sitting right near the heart of Sag Harbor
Photo Credit: Newsday / Adam Richins

Sitting right near the heart of Sag Harbor Village, the Joseph H. Fahys & Co. watchcase factory opened in 1881, and for a time, was one of the biggest employers in factory town (making the lunch whistle a famous sound in the Village). Bulova bought the factory in 1936 (giving its more-known name), but it struggled after World War II, and eventually closed its doors for good in 1981. Despite its prime real estate in Sag Harbor, the old factory stood empty for over 20 years, an eyesore to the community. In 2013, 64-unit luxury condo complex opened after a $40 million renovation of the buildings with loft-style apartments as well as all-new bungalows and townhouses built on the site. Now here is a year-round heated pool in the old courtyard and a wine bar in the former precious metals vault.

Ronjo, Montauk

If there was anything that defined Montauk as
Photo Credit: Flickr / pixonomy

If there was anything that defined Montauk as the un-Hampton, it was the motel with Tiki Man outside in the center of town. The Ronjo Hotel, a 33-room Hawaiian-themed motel, had online reviews that classified it as "a dump 20 years ago." The motel was sold in 2012 for just $5 million, despite its central location and nearby beach. The Montauk Beach House opened in summer 2012 as a luxury hotel with a poolside lounge called No. 50. The Tiki Man is still there, but with a new paint job.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the owners of the Montauk Beach House and the pool club on its premises. Larry Siedlick is the majority owner, and he does not own Sole East.

Amagansett Farmers Market, Amagansett

The Amangansett Farmers Market is physically still there,
Photo Credit: Deirdre Brennan

The Amangansett Farmers Market is physically still there, but it's not the same as the market that sold produce from the 10-acre farm along Montauk Highway for 55 years. In 2008, owner Pat Struk sold the Farmers Market to Eli Zabar, the owner of the Upper East Side markets Eli's Manhattan, the Vinegar Factor and E.A.T. Zabar told New York magazine he would not turn the market into "a Citarella. We don't need another high-end grocery store here."

Southampton College, Southampton

Long Island University opened an outpost in Southampton
Photo Credit: Flickr / 9428166@N03

Long Island University opened an outpost in Southampton in 1963, giving East Enders the option of staying local for a four-year university (Suffolk Community College has an outpost in Riverhead, but it's only a two-year school, the closest other option is Stony Brook University). Despite a great fanfare when it opened and a renowned Marine biology program, Southampton College announced in 2004 that it would shut its doors in 2005 and current students would be sent to the Upper Brookville campus. SUNY swooped in, opening up a satellite of Stony Brook for the marine biology program called Stony Brook Southampton on the 81-acre campus. But the full-service campus only lasted four years, though it still houses the School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a creative writing master's program (but no residences). Now mostly empty, the gates that proclaim "Southampton College" still stand.

Bridgehampton Beverage, Bridgehampton

Route 27 in Bridgehampton boasts some high-priced stores,
Photo Credit: Google

Route 27 in Bridgehampton boasts some high-priced stores, and even a Starbucks. But despite Bridgehampton's glitzy reputation, a ramshackle beer store called Bridgehampton Beverage sat at the corner of Route 27 and Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, one of the busiest intersections in the Hamptons. Plans to redevelop the rundown beverage center were in the works before it was finally demolished a few years ago. A 4,500-square foot, two-story CVS has been in the works (with a 97-car parking lot), although the plans have met some zoning hurdles along the way.

The Swamp, Wainscott

In the time when Fire Island was really
Photo Credit: Google

In the time when Fire Island was really the summertime destination for gays, there still existed a gay club in the Hamptons. The Swamp, located on Route 27 in Wainscott, opened in 1977, and while never getting swanky, it still attracted Bianca Jagger, Calvin Klein and more. "Frankly, it was a dump," writer Bob Colacello told The New York Times in 2001. It sold in 2001 to Scott Gray, a former Sachs investment banker, and Scott Storbo, who did public relations for Saatchi & Saatchi, and who were both openly gay, but they did not keep it a gay bar. They opened a nightclub, the Star Room, which lasted until 2008. The building is still there, a monument to its past, but there are now rumors that it will turn into a car wash.

Bridgehampton Race Circuit, Bridgehampton

When Paul Newman came to Bridgehampton, it wasn't
Photo Credit: Flickr / steventom

When Paul Newman came to Bridgehampton, it wasn't for a glitzy mansion or a golf course. It was to race cars at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit. The raceway, which opened in 1957 after decades of races on public roads, hosted the professional United States Road Racing Championship in 1965, and the World Sportscar Championship in 1962. Racecar driver Mario Andretti, who has won a world championship and Indianapolis, called it a "special track," and Paul Newman first drove out there in the late 1960s. But the classic track couldn't survive modern times, and after 20 years of rumors, it shuttered for good in 1999. The land is now one of the most expensive golf courses in the Hamptons, the Bridges.


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