Letters to the Editor: 12/22/16
Supporting Grandfather’s Memory
Like everyone in Sag Harbor, I am heartbroken over the loss of the movie theater in last week’s fire (and feel bad for the other businesses as well). I once joked to my husband, “how would we know where we are if we didn’t have the Sag Harbor sign on the theater to tell us?” In our home we have several artistic renderings of the theater which we will always treasure.
In the last few days, I have been re-reading Dorothy Zaykowski’s book, Sag Harbor, The Story of an American Beauty. I wanted to know more about the history of the movie theater and I found what I was looking for in her book. Although it’s true that the theater that was just destroyed dates back to 1936, my great-grandfather, George Kiernan, was the local businessman who in 1913 purchased the property on which the recent theater stood. He then had the Corwin Brothers of North Haven construct a movie theater on the sight. George’s theater opened in 1915. Apparently George angered many local citizens by keeping the theater opened on Sundays! He sold the theater after just a few years. In 1936 the theater was completely rebuilt.
My father, also George Kiernan, grew up in Sag Harbor in the house that stands right at the corner where Madison and Main Streets meet. He never told us too much about his family’s history in Sag Harbor. The men were lawyers and businessmen; my grandmother was a hat designer. We wish we knew more. Since last week’s fire I have a new appreciation not only for my family history but for the rich history of this village.
My brother is Thomas, our father was George, his father was Thomas, and his father was George. George, Thomas, George, Thomas. My brother does not have a son but if he had I guess he would have had to call him George. We are both proud of our heritage here in Sag Harbor and hope to honor our great-grandfather, George Kiernan, by supporting the restoration of the movie theater!
Margaret Kiernan Bodkin
Working to Restore Main Street
I was awakened this morning in my house on Fordham Road to the sound of fire trucks racing through my village. I am heartbroken by the damage this fire has caused to my historic village and the loss it has created for so many residents. It is made worse by the proximity of this tragic event to the holidays.
My thanks to all our fire fighters from throughout the South Fork and our emergency service workers for their efforts to limit the damage and ensuring there was no serious injuries or loss of life. They again persevered against the fire in the cold and wind without regard to their own safety.
I have contacted the Village office and offered whatever resources my office and the State possess to assist the Village and affected residents in dealing with the aftermath of the fire.
Specifically, in my role as chairman of the Assembly Small Business Committee, I have contacted Jim King, the Executive Director of the New York State Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC has an office at Stony Brook University. The Stony Brook Center will be contacting Mayor Schroeder directly. We will pursue every available resource including the possibility of a disaster declaration to make resources available. I am also concerned about any village resident who may be made homeless by this fire and providing them with the resources that they may need. We have contacted state housing officials to assist the Village.
My goal is to address any human impacts from this disaster and then take the steps needed to rebuild and preserve our historic Main Street. At a time that is supposed to be all about peace and joy, this disaster hits hard. I am confident that the village again will join together to meet the challenge and we will emerge stronger than ever.
Thankful for the Community
The members of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce are thankful for those in our community who volunteer and sacrifice to keep us safe. The commitment of the firefighters from Sag Harbor and our neighboring districts, as well as the ambulance, police, and emergency crews, proved the special bond we share in protecting all that makes Sag Harbor special.
We see each other every day, yet in the face of adversity, we are made most aware of our connections and what makes us special. As you walk through the village this week, please remember we are here for each other. The members of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce are thankful to be here and most thankful for our community.
Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce
Help to Fill a Void
Sag Harbor took a blow to the gut last week.
Like many in our community, I was deeply saddened by the loss of the Sag Harbor Cinema last Friday. It is a tragedy first for the owner, who I understand has operated the iconic arts cinema since the late 70’s, but also for the community of Sag Harbor. We have lost an iconic landmark, but also a cultural treasure.
For those of us who are lovers of good independent and foreign films that don’t necessarily make it to the multiplex screens, this also represents a significant loss. In response to that loss, that I know others are feeling, I want to make a personal offer to assist with pro bono legal services to whatever individual or group of investors seeks to re-establish an “arts cinema” either at the existing site of the Sag Harbor Cinema or at another site in the Village of Sag Harbor to some other site in East Hampton and Southampton Town. The legal services will be provided free of charge by my law firm, Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP. Anybody who is interested in working towards filling this newly created void please free feel to contact me. Best wishes for the Holiday Season!
Buy a Seat for Theater
The first movie I ever saw was Pearl Buck’s ‘The Good Earth’ at a 1930s Saturday matinee at The Sag Harbor movie house. All was in sepia with thousands of locusts flying around, quite scary, and when over, I was glad to leave in the afternoon sunlight!
In the 60s and 70s I often attended, and as there was a seat missing in the middle left, I always tried to sit directly behind it, so no one could obscure by vision or enjoyment!
Yes, this funny, funky, lovable movie house should be rebuilt, and perhaps citizens should be allowed to endow a seat!
Longtime summer resident since 1926
To the Editor:
I want to thank the firemen and the police for their work on the fire this week. Thanks to them, no lives were lost and I am sure they kept the fire as confined as possible. These people are a treasure to the village.
Kudos for Firefighters
Once again, I believe we owe a great debt of gratitude to Fire Chief Tom Gardella and all of the firefighters from near and far who came to our aid to fight the Main Street fire that gutted so many buildings. We are also very lucky as I understand no one was injured.
P.S. Perhaps we can ask all those billionaire developers who are so interested in Sag Harbor to dig into their piggy banks with their greedy little hands and make some significant donations to the firefighters who are protecting their properties.
Yes, this past week gave all of us moments leaving us wondering what decisions shall and will be made for the future of our town.
Firstly the resounding vote against “turf” with a 80+% no vote. On Feb 15 another vote to approve “natural grass” field? No Brainer.
Secondly, the horrific Main Street fire that destroyed our cinema and adjacent buildings. Thanks again to the heroic firefighters of our department and all other responders who fought and contained the blaze from spreading, and the local shopkeepers for aiding the emergency personal, and for carefully saving of the Iconic SAG HARBOR neon sign on the cinema facade.
Unfortunately the cinema is gone. Now the question and decision is what is to be done to rebuild and replace this treasured landmark? There remains an empty shell now, as the efforts and clean-up were literally done overnight. Some maybe see this fire as only a tragedy although one can see this adversity beyond and a future opportunity and “Renaissance” for a movie house to be brought back to its original and potential grandeur. “A Palace of Cinema.” Many theaters have been brought back from the ashes, such as Brooklyn’s King, Riverhead’s Suffolk and Great Barrington’s Triplex!
Now we, and all those concerned, will, and must, look ahead!