What's In A Name? Miankoma

Michele Napoli | March 19, 1998

Miankoma Lane runs from Amagansett Main Street to Bluff Road along land owned for centuries by the Baker family, one of the first four English families to settle the hamlet. "Miankoma" is generally agreed to mean "assembly place," but whether the word is of Montaukett or Delaware Indian origin is uncertain; both have been credited. It does not appear in William Wallace Tooker's book of Long Island Indian place names.

During the winter of 1903-04, Miankoma Hall was built, though its namesake road was not "established" until 1916. Frank M. Griffing built the hall as a meeting place for the Ladies Society of Busy Workers, which was three years old at the time.

Summer fairs were held for the "Hall Fund," the first one making a profit of $200. The ladies bought the land for $500, a debt paid off within a year. The building itself was paid for with a $1,700 mortgage, which was retired in February 1912.

Card parties, socials, dances, suppers, and dramatic performances were held in the spacious interior of Miankoma Hall. At one time, it was rented to an enterprising resident for use as a roller-skating rink, according to Carleton Kelsey's "Amagansett: A Pictorial History," though that did not last long. Mr. Kelsey, longtime historian of East Hampton Town, adds that "the first motion pictures (movies) shown here were possibly at Miankoma Hall."

The Busy Workers sold the building in 1931, at the height of the Depression, to A.A. Haines Council 66, Junior Order United American Mechanics. The proceeds paid for several thousand feet of concrete sidewalk along Main Street, all the way to Atlantic Avenue. (A sidewalk plaque commemorating the Ladies Society of Busy Workers may be found near the Amagansett School, which was built five years later.)

United American Mechanics either sold or donated Miankoma Hall at some point to the American Legion; the date of transfer could not be confirmed. The Legion sold the building in 1945 to Tsuya Matsuki, who used it for many years as a summer residence and music studio. In a 1989 study of historic buildings conducted for the town, the preservationist Robert J. Hefner reported that the structure "retains the over-scaled semi-elliptical fanlight in the front gable, but the porch across the front facade has been closed in."

Ms. Matsuki died in 1990, after selling the house to the late actor David Doyle and his wife, Anita.