Historical Society summer gala honors Bay Street founders, among others

Cherishing Sag Harbor’s Spirit




Sag Harbor may have been incorporated in 1846, but its first Record dates back to 1709. Envision a world of horseback riding and sailing, dirt roads before street names. As time progresses, history often gets left behind. Thanks to the Sag Harbor Historical Society, this village holds onto its past while boldly looking into the future.

On July 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, the Sag Harbor Historical Society’s summer gala will be hosted by Stuart and Marni Hersch at Point House. The house holds historical significance, built in 1806 in North Haven at 6 Fahys Road, making it a perfectly suitable place for such an event. Linda Shapiro, Sag Harbor resident and well-known event planner and philanthropist in the area, has put this event together along with Nancy French Achenbach, president of the Sag Harbor Historical Society.

The gala’s beginnings came when Shapiro walked into the Historical Society building last summer and fell in love with the history and the people involved. “I thought about all of these people who are buying homes and knocking them down without knowing any of the history,” she said. And so, an idea was born.

While the organization has been around since 1985, incorporated in 1989, not many are aware its existence. French Achenbach said, “To me, the most important thing about the society right now, and through this benefit, is to get the word out that we have extensive archives. Photographs, maps, documents, family histories, anything we can get our hands on to file.”

As real estate agents continue to sell older, possibly historic, homes, they’re looking for the story behind a location. “As a fourth-generation Sag Harbor resident, it’s important to me to make our resources available in any way we can,” she continued. The organization is hoping for a program geared towards local children, so they may understand the deep history of the place they live.

Around 250 people are expected to attend, including the new owners of WLNG radio, Sandra Foschi and Bill Evans, who will serve as the honorary chairpersons.

Emma Walton Hamilton and Stephen Hamilton, founders of Bay Street Theater, will be honored. Bay Street first opened its doors in 1992, an opportunity for those who came to the East End to rest and work. “We envisioned the East End as a cultural destination — a place where each arts venue or experience enriches the other, and also brings business to the community at large, much like what’s happening now,” Emma Walton Hamilton said. Nearly 30 years ago, the two moved to the area full time, and have seen the East End culture community grow to become larger than ever. “We see Sag Harbor’s future as a diverse arts-based economy, in much the same way it used to be an industrial economy,” she added.

In addition, contractor/renovator of Point House, Steven Breitenbach, and Chris Denon and John Battle, who restored the Sag Harbor Cinema’s neon sign, will receive honorable mention.

The event will be catered by Silver Spoon Specialties with sweets by Tasker. Troy Grindle will provide the music, and there will also be a silent auction with goods and services donated primarily from Sag Harbor proprietors. Money raised will go toward exhibitions, maintenance, fund a full-time staff member, roof maintenance, and more.

“We also cherish Sag Harbor’s independent spirit, and its commitment to a quality of life that includes protecting our town from big box/commercial development and preserving our natural, cultural, and community resources. We are both very touched by this honor, and grateful to the Sag Harbor Historical Society for their recognition of our contribution to the community,” Walton Hamilton continued. “It’s truly heartening, not only to have the Historical Society acknowledge us in this way, but also as a reflection of the continuing importance of Bay Street Theater as a cultural destination and influencer, not just on the East End but in the performing arts industry at large.”

Tickets begin at $150. Visit www.sagharborhistorical.org for tickets and information.

nicole@indyeastend.com