For over 100 years, there has been a movie theater on Main Street, Sag Harbor. Then came the fire of December 16, 2016. The Sag Harbor Cinema has been bought and completely renovated thanks to the help and generosity of our volunteers and extraordinary community.
The Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, Inc. was established as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization to finish rebuilding, maintain and operate the historic Sag Harbor Cinema, with programming and education for people of all ages.
OUR OWN MAIN STREET FIRE
On December 16, 2016, 6am, a devastatng fire broke out the old Sag Harbor Cinema. In this specially commissioned remembrance film the dramatic events of that day are recalled by the firemen and first responders whose brave work saved the cinema and the day.
The Sag Harbor Cinema thanks the first responders for their volunteerism that day, and every other day of the year.
On May 25, 2019, at 8:20pm, the community of Sag Harbor and the East End welcomed the sign back to the front of the Sag Harbor Cinema.
Thanked at the lighting ceremony were the First Responders who saved the lives of people in the Village on December 16, 2016, when at almost the exact same time, 8:20pm, the facade of the Cinema had to be demolished and the sign was left in a heap on the ground. At that time, thanks to Village officials and the generous help of Chris Denon of Twin Forks Moving and Storage, the sign, damaged but recognizable, was shipped back to his storage facility. For more about this, see below!
When you think Sag Harbor Cinema, you think of the Sag Harbor sign.
Designed by John Eberson, one of the great designers of “atmospheric” theaters, our classic Art Deco neon sign
beckoned moviegoers since the 1930s with its classic art deco neon sign. The sign was removed but then rebuilt and replaced by the heroic efforts of a group of citizens who had it reconstructed, and its second removal was in the wake of the terrible fire that almost destroyed the entire Cinema is December, 2016, Again, generous and heroic efforts on the part of concerned citizens saved it after the façade of the Cinema had to be removed. The story of the sign follows, below, in a pictorial salute.
“HARBOR” was just finished being fixed, thanks to the unbelievably generous work done by Joh Battle, Chris Denon, and Clayton Orehek. For more info on their efforts, see below!
Below is a detail from John Eberson’s original drawings for the Cinema dated March 19, 1936. There are even specifications for the color and position of the neon, and more of these plans can be seen in Sag Harbor: 100 Years of Film in the Village by Annette Hinkle, published by East End Press.
In the winter of 1960-61, the Cinema was closed due to lack of business. When the theater reopened on Easter weekend, 1961, it was redecorated with these “Wonder Bread” dots to attract audiences.
In May 2004, the theater’s somewhat dilapidated sign was removed by workers, destined for the dump, under a renovation begun by Gerald Mallow, the building’s owner since 1978. Shocked citizens gathered, among them filmmaker Brenda Siemer Scheider and playwright Joe Pintauro, who had the sign saved and moved to under a tarp on a boat trailer. Ms. Scheider then went on to raise money to duplicate it, after arriving at a deal with Mr Mallow to have it replaced, and it is this sign that was saved from the December 16th fire.
You can see a film on the relighting of the sign, with interviews with Brenda Siemer and others who worked to have it re-erected, in this youtube video.
And now for a day that will live in infamy, the horrible day of the 2016 fire. We were all aghast looking at what was left of the Cinema after our unbelievably brave First Responders, after many harrowing hours of freezing temperatures, icicles hanging from their helmets and uniforms, battled the blaze from early morning till the afternoon, saving adjacent buildings from further harm. Thankfully, no lives were lost. Merchants from all over the Village offered food and hot coffee to keep their energy up and we held our breath, hoping the Cinema would be saved.
But around 8pm that evening of December 16, 2016, a bulldozer came to knock the façade, which had become a danger, down. Our elected officials, during an emergency meeting, kindly gave permission to save the sign, and it was collected by Chris Denon of Twin Forks Moving and Storage.
Afterward followed artistry, integrity, and generosity that has been inspirational for everyone who knows about it.
Besides Chris Denon’s extraordinary largesse in saving and taking the sign to store at his Twin Forks Moving and Storage, unbeknownst to us, artisans John Battle and Franklin Paucar, of Battle Iron and Bronze, and neon sculptor Clayton Orehek, the person who had worked on the neon previously when the sign was replaced, got to work on the sign again, hammering out re-soldering what was damaged, painting it, and doing the skillful work of bending and replacing the neon that made the sign the great iconic Art Deco presence it always had in the Village. We owe these people a great debt not just for working for having stepped up when no one begged them to, taking it upon themselves to replace a very painful loss. WE THANK THEM!
Photo Credit: Dana Shaw
The state of the “H” immediately after it was rescued by bulldozer after the collapsing of the façade, and then after John Battle worked on it. Photo Credit: John Battle
John Battle and his assistant Franklin hard at work finishing the H before being sent to Clayton Orehek for neon work.
Franklin Paucar and John Battle hard at work finishing the H before being sent to Clayton Orehek for neon work.
In one of the great celebratory moments of last year, at our Big Tent Party for the Cinema, the sign made its reappearance on Twin Forks Moving and Storage’s flatbed truck, and immediately became the selfie hit of the party.
Everyone had to have their photo taken with the sign, and “SAG” was lit up in its neon glory. “Harbor” was displayed on the other side of the truck with a sign saying it needed a little more love to light up again in its former glory.
The signs on the flatbed truck before the party. Photo Credit: Michael Heller
Chris Denon, April Gornik, Clayton Orehek, and John Battle. Photo Credit: Stacy Dermont
“SAG” making an appearance at another 2017 benefit