‘Voices of Sag Harbor’ Celebrates its 10th Anniversary

Voices of Sag Harbor will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2017. Christine Sampson photo
Voices of Sag Harbor will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2017. Christine Sampson photo

By Christine Sampson

Many of Sag Harbor’s most historic characters — even some who have passed away — will be represented in this weekend’s Cultural Heritage Weekend, when photographs from the 2007 book “Voices of Sag Harbor” will be displayed at the John Jermain Memorial Library on Saturday in honor of the book’s 10th anniversary.

“I think it stands up very well” to the passage of time, said Carol Spencer, a longtime volunteer with the Eastville Community Historical Society and Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library who was involved in the publication of the book. “It’s relevant because you know what Old Sag Harbor was like.”

“Voices of Sag Harbor” normally retails for $19.95, but it will be on sale at the library for $10 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday.

It is a collection of personal histories from longtime Sag Harbor residents, which Ms. Spencer said weaves together a history of the village itself. It includes stories from Sag Harbor’s historically black communities — Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest and Ninevah — as well as others that capture famous local places like the Sag Harbor Cinema, Bulova Watchcase factory and Old Whalers Church.

According to Ms. Spencer, it took a committee of about 11 people to gather and transcribe the oral histories from more than 80 people over the course of six years, beginning in 2000, to complete the book for publication in 2007.

Among her favorite stories are those of Elizabeth Bowser, who died in 2015, the granddaughter of Carrie Smiley, a freed slave who came to Sag Harbor and worked as the seamstress of a ship captain’s wife. Ms. Spencer also loves the stories of Rae Parks, a socialite from Sag Harbor Hills who recalled that doctors, lawyers and other professionals lived along the waterfront, the civil servants lived on the next few blocks inland, and then “as you got nearer to the main road, that’s where the people lived who had worked hard and saved their money and were able to buy in this area.”

“This history is fabulous,” Ms. Spencer said. “It’s a great book.”