Historical society launches new exhibits, plans summer gala

Preserving Sag Harbor’s Heritage




Sag Harbor, a village that has gone through many cycles of boom and bust in its 200-plus-year history, is going through another period of robust growth that has transformed the old whaling port/factory town/bohemian enclave into yet another chic Hamptons resort area.

But in that process, much of the historic fabric that has given the village its appeal has been incrementally threatened by new development.

Members of the Sag Harbor Historical Society, who for years have been something of a rag-tag militia fighting to protect the village’s character, are hoping to take a more prominent role in that battle and perhaps enjoy a boom of their own.

For starters, the society has two new exhibits opening at its headquarters, the Annie Cooper Boyd House, which is tucked away on Main Street, just south of the village’s business district.

“Outtakes From Images of America: Sag Harbor” is, as the name implies, an exhibit of historic photos that failed to make the final cut for the book of that same name by Tucker Burns Roth.

Concurrently, “Long Wharf Archaeology and Havens Beach Over Time” is an exhibit curated by society member Jean Held that consists of objects — from pottery shards to musket balls — found on Havens Beach after a Suffolk County dredge deposited tons of spoil there after dredging along Long Wharf in late 2017.

A popular summertime series, “Fridays on the Porch,” returns in July, and the society will host an “Afternoon Tea and Pastry Party” with Mark Tasker, the head pastry chef at Balthazar Bakery on
August 3.

But the society is also gearing up for an ambitious summer gala that will be hosted by Stuart and Marni Hersch on the grounds of the historic Point House in North Haven on July 5.

Why the move to a major summertime gala in a summertime chockfull of galas from Westhampton to Montauk and everywhere in between? “The most important thing, besides the money, which we desperately need being a nonprofit, is we would like to educate the people; many I dare say don’t even know we are here,” said the society’s new president, Nancy French Achenbach.

Besides sponsoring annual exhibits and the occasional summertime talk, Achenbach said the society has the ability to share important information about historic properties in the village of which new owners may not be aware.

“We get calls from real estate people asking, ‘Can you tell me something about the such and such house?’” Achenbach said. “We do have archives. We do have information.”

And it can provide that information for a reasonable fee to help new homeowners who want to preserve the historic character of the house they just bought, she said.

A recent example occurred when the owners of 209 Main Street sought information, and society treasurer Barbara Schwartz was able to provide them with information that included the fact that there was once a small candy shop on the property, which was later turned into a barbershop.

The idea for a major summer gala was proposed by Linda Shapiro, a professional fundraiser and special events coordinator. A Sag Harbor resident, Shapiro took a shine to the historical society and stopped by one day to offer her services free of charge.

Even though the Point House is not in Sag Harbor proper, but in the neighboring village of North Haven, it provides the large lawn area needed for a major event.

When Shapiro pitched the idea to the Hersches, they quickly agreed. Special thanks is due to North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander, who helped broker a deal to save the Point House from possible demolition, Achenbach said.

Sandra Foschi and Bill Evans, the new owners of WLNG radio, will serve as the honorary chairpersons of the event.

Emma Walton Hamilton and Stephen Hamilton, two of the founders of Bay Street Theater, will be honored, as will Steve Breitenbach, the contractor who renovated the Point House, and Chris Denon and John Battle, who are being recognized for their work to restore the Sag Harbor Cinema’s neon sign.

The event will be catered by Silver Spoon Caterers, with sweets provided by Tasker and music by Troy Grindle, East Hampton High School’s music director, and a number of sponsors have signed up as well.

Tickets range from $150 to $5000 and reservations are requested by June 12. Additional information can be obtained at www.sagharborhistorical.org.

sjkotz@indyeastend.com