Sag Harbor Community Notes, April 30


The spring edition of the “The Sentinel,” the Sag Harbor Historical Society’s seasonal newsletter, arrived in mailboxes last week, reporting that a “sneak preview” and a ribbon cutting will be held at the William Cooper Whaleboat Shop, which has been taking shape in recent months behind the Annie Cooper Boyd House, when the society holds its annual meeting on May 30 at 3 p.m. The public and new members are invited.Carpenter Chuck Lattanzio and his crew, Jonathan Frederic and Patrick Campeau, have been building the shop using Jim Laspesa’s architectural plans. Historical Society Trustee Barbara Schwartz gave $50,000 to get the project started and has overseen the work; she continues to research the Cooper family to develop educational material for the exhibit when it officially opens.

Some of the planking for the shop comes from the original 19th century structure, which was torn down and used to build a 20th-century shed on the edge of the yard.

In addition to the May 30 annual meeting, the Historical Society lists the following coming up: From Memorial Day through October and by appointment, the Annie Cooper Boyd House will be open weekends from 1 to 4 p.m., featuring an exhibit on “The Life of Sag Harbor’s Prankster-Poet, George Sterling, 1869-1926,” as well as gifts of historical significance to the society; on June 20 from 6 to 8 p.m., the annual fundraiser party will be held at the Breakwater Yacht Club with the theme “All Hands on Deck” to celebrate the new whaleboat shop; on Fridays, July 10 and 24 and August 7 and 21, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., “Fridays on the Porch” will be offered, wine and cheese gatherings with informal entertainment and talks on local history; and on Sundays, July 19 and August 30, at 1 p.m., there will be history walks with the theme “Fire, Water and Firewater, a History of Sag Harbor” featuring seldom visited locations.

For more information about the Sag Harbor Historical Society, which celebrates its 30th birthday this year, Google its website and pay a visit. Memberships range from $25 for individuals and $50 for families to $100 for businesses, $250 for sponsors and $500 for patrons. Donations and memberships help maintain the Annie Cooper Boyd House Museum and its programs as well as the society’s efforts to support the preservation of Sag Harbor’s historic character.

The newsletter also features an interesting piece by Debbie Anderson on her ancestors, the various Captain David Hands, one of whom is said to have been the model for James Fennimore Cooper’s archetypical American superhero, Natty Bumppo of “The Last of the Mohicans” and other Leatherstocking Tales.

One of the Captain Hands lived in the little saltbox on Church Street next to the Fire Museum, sold recently by longtime owner John Krug because of all the disruption caused by the conversion of the Bulova Watch Case Factory across the street into luxury condos—a long, slow process that finally seems to be getting very close to completion, at least on the outside.

Walking by with our Westie, Stuey, we noticed there had been some work done recently on the old house—possibly the oldest in the village—to temporarily shore up the foundations for the new owner, Alex Akavan, who has been planning a renovation and expansion of the 18th-century, if not 17th-century, structure. Siding had been cut away at each corner, exposing the old post-and-beam construction under the cedar shingles. On the southeast corner, an original peg can be seen at the eroded joint of two beams with a lot of worm and water damage. It’s like looking into a time machine reflecting centuries of Sag Harbor’s life.

As we walk the village, we see pockets of construction all over the place where old houses are being renovated or gutted or even demolished. It’s a scary thing in a town that is loved for the survival of its 19th-century architecture and streetscapes. On a drive back from the dump last weekend, we just noticed an empty lot where a house used to stand on Main Street near the Tomato Lady’s property. It’s probably something that has been well reported in the Express or Press or Star that we missed. Can’t find any reference to it on the internet or in village agendas.

Neurologist and bestselling medical author Oliver Sacks writes in this week’s The New Yorker about the possibility that damage to Sag Harbor author and actor Spalding Gray’s frontal cortex, endured during an auto accident in Ireland, may have been responsible for the obsessions and depressions that upended his life.

After several failed attempts, he eventually committed suicide by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry in January 2004. The brilliant monologist and actor lived in the village and later moved over the bridge in North Haven, a move that became one of his dark obsessions, as Dr. Sacks reports.

Sign up now to take part in the first Moby-Dick Marathon to be held in years in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Canio’s Books. It’s set for the weekend of June 12 to 14 at various locations in Sag Harbor, an old whaling town that is mentioned quite a few times in Melville’s amazing novel set in the heyday of American whaling. Readers are wanted. Costumes are encouraged and the whole event will end with a party Sunday afternoon.

Send an email to with “MDM” in the subject line and specify which two-hour time slot works for you. Those choices are: Friday, June 12, 12 to 3 p.m. at Canio’s; 3 to 6 p.m. at the Whaling Museum; and 6 to 9 p.m. back at Canio’s; on Saturday, June 13, the marathon resumes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bay Street Theater; 1 to 4 p.m. at the John Jermain Memorial Library; at 4 to 7 p.m. at the Old Whalers’ Church; and from 7 to 10 p.m. back at Canio’s; and finally Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eastville Community Historical Society and 2 to 5 p.m. back at Canio’s.

In addition to readers, Canio’s needs chapter sponsors to help fund the Canio’s Cultural Café program. Send an email with the chapter you want to sponsor, plus two alternates, and send a check payable to Canio’s Cultural Cafe to 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, N.Y. 11963.

Here are the sponsorship levels: an Ahab donates $100 and receives a commemorative button; an Ishmael donates $200 and receives a button and canvas bag; a Queegueg (who first set foot on North American soil after his long voyage from his Pacific homeland right here in Sag Harbor, Ishmael tells us in his narrative) donates $300 and gets a button, bag and T-shirt; and a Starbuck donates $1,000 and gets all of the above plus two seats on a two-hour cruise in Sag Harbor waters aboard the Marlinspike with Captain Anton Hagen.

Today, Thursday, April 30, from 6 to 8 p.m., the Hamptons LGBT Center at 44 Union Street will host a potluck supper for older adults (age 50 and above) to socialize, network and have a good time. Bring your favorite dish to share with others and maybe find a new recipe or new friend along the way.

Pre-registration is required and should have been completed by Monday, April 27. Call Christopher Polistena at (631) 899-4950 or email him at and see if there’s still room; it may help if you tell him what dish you’ll bring. For more information, go to the website “”

Canio’s Books at 290 Main Street and Bay Street Theater are cooperating to celebrate novelist John Steinbeck’s Sag Harbor connections. This Saturday, May 2, from 5 to 6 p.m., Canio’s co-owner Kathryn Szoka’s photographs will be shown as part of a special presentation on Steinbeck’s book “Travels with Charley,” a mid-1960s road book featuring Steinbeck and his poodle that starts and ends in Sag Harbor.

Saturday’s also the day for the opening reception of the 4th annual Spring Flower Show at Romany Kramoris Gallery at 41 Main Street from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The group show, which opens today, April 30, features local artists’ floral paintings, pottery, garden sculpture and blown glass.

Participating artists are Muriel Hanson Falborn, Ghelia Lipman-Wulf, Eleanora Kupencow, Pingree Louchheim, Arianne Emmerich, Thomas Condon, Roxanne Panero, Richard Udice, Gayle Tudisco, Maria Orlova, Coco Pekelis, Joyce Brian, Mary Milne and Joan Tripp. The show runs through May 21. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. except Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Hours are extended on weekend nights.

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