Volunteers Offer Expertise Toward Sag Harbor Cinema Effort

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The Sag Harbor Cinema sign as it lay in storage at Twin Forks in Bridgehampton. John Battle, a local metal worker, has offered to restore the word “Harbor.” Photo by Gordon Grant

By Christine Sampson

Last week, it was Billy Joel, Martin Scorsese and Harvey Weinstein who made headlines for their contributions to efforts to rebuild the Sag Harbor Cinema. This week’s key donors are celebrities on a more local level — businesses and artisans who have offered their goods and services as the Sag Harbor Partnership continues its campaign.

Elizabeth Dow of East Hampton, a designer of textiles and wall coverings whose work has graced the walls of The White House, and can be found in the homes of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Calvin Klein, has offered up fabric to reupholster the seats for the cinema.

John Battle, a Bridgehampton-based metal fabricator, has committed to restoring the metal components of the word “Harbor” in the iconic cinema sign pro bono as a follow-up to the work of another professional who has already fixed the word “Sag.” Chris Denon, the owner of Twin Forks Moving and Storage in Bridgehampton, who has been storing the sign free of charge since the night of the fire, financed the restoration of “Sag.”

Chuck Miller of Westhampton, who counts many South Fork businesses among his clients at TSO Printers in Brentwood, is donating printed materials such as posters and marketing materials.

Their contributions vary, but they all have something in common: fond recollections of the cinema before the fire.

“I have spent some time speaking with Gerry Mallow and enjoying his passion for films, and I’ve not only been a patron of the theater year round but I’ve also really enjoyed the screenings that the [Hamptons International] Film Festival has shown over the past several years,” Ms. Dow said in an interview. “I’m a big fan. …I’m very happy to come on board and be a part of its restoration. I hope that my participation will also inspire others.”

She has helped restore museums, churches and other historic structures.

“I happen to have textiles that I think would be really appropriate for the cinema space, and would not only be nice aesthetically but also really enhance the interior,” Ms. Dow said.

Mr. Miller said he got involved because “Sag Harbor shouldn’t be without a cinema.”

“These theaters, they’ve got to be saved or redone if they burn down,” he said, noting his own family used to be in the theater business years ago. “It is dear to my heart.”

His philosophy, he said, is that “if you work in the community and you take in from the community, you should give back.”

RELATED: Business Owners Eager for Cinema Restoration to Begin

Mr. Battle called the restoration “an all-hands-on-deck assignment.”

“I hope everyone in the community locks arms and makes it happen. It’s a tremendous community treasure,” he said.

Mr. Battle said he knew he would get involved almost immediately after the fire. Mr. Denon opened up the storage site and he borrowed what he called “a very badly damaged “H” to assess what it would take to restore it. He set about straightening out the metal frame and welding in replacement parts wherever they were needed.

“It’s very doable,” Mr. Battle said.

Mr. Denon said the word “Sag” should be done within the next two weeks.

“The sign has a following of people who grew up walking underneath it and going to the movie theater,” he said.

Of the campaign to rebuild the cinema, he said, “I think it’s great. I hope that it happens. The last thing we need is another restaurant or hotel. It is such a cultural icon. It is something special.”

For the barrier the Sag Harbor Partnership is erecting at the sidewalk of the cinema site, Bill Costello of Men at Work Construction in Wainscott built the wall and Aidan Corish of Tangram Corporation contributed vinyl logo mechanicals. It is expected to be completed on Thursday, May 25 — just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“Everything was initiated by the great people at the Sag Harbor Partnership,” Mr. Corish said in an email. “A good example of what we can achieve when we pull together, including the village, building department and the ARB [Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review].

“We are so grateful for all the people who have come out of the woodwork to support this project and offer their services,” April Gornik, vice president of the Sag Harbor Partnership, said in an interview. “We don’t just want to involve the community, we want the help of the community to make this everyone’s dream come true.”

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