Around the Island

Friday Night Dialogue: Sag Harbor Cinema and 100 years of film in the village


When the iconic Sag Harbor Cinema burned down on December 16, 2016, the gaping hole left on Main Street epitomized the collective wound felt by the village, as they mourned the loss of a significant piece of local history.

Shelter Island Public Library is pleased to welcome award-winning local author Annette Hinkle to the September 1 Friday Night Dialogues at 7 p.m. She will talk about the fire and the chain of events that would lead to her writing “Sag Harbor: 100 Years of Film in the Village” barely four months after the fire. The book is about a village discovering a part of its cultural history (one centered on the presence of movies in its midst) that residents barely knew existed as well as a re-building effort that has already raised more than $5 million dollars.

Just one month after the catastrophe, Ms. Hinkle was approached by publisher Pauline Neuwirth of Neuwirth and Associates, a New York-based book design and production company, to see if she would be interested in writing a book about the history of the Sag Harbor Cinema for East End Books, her new publishing company focused on eastern Long Island. After contacting the non-profit organization Sag Harbor Partnership, it was learned that the group had an interest in purchasing and rebuilding the theater as a non-profit cinema arts center.

Annette in London 2016
Annette Hinkle

The question was whether Ms. Hinkle could finish the book in time for the Partnership’s big fundraiser in mid-July, and could she find local residents and celebrities to speak?

Answer: she could and she did.

What began as an ode to the Sag Harbor Cinema quickly became a history of silent film, talkies and vaudeville acts in the village dating back to 1907. The theater with its iconic art deco sign was built in 1936 by designer John Eberson, and was purchased in 1978 by Shelter Island’s Gerry Mallow, who is credited with transforming it into an art cinema featuring independent and foreign films.

Ms. Hinkle states that her book “only scratches the surface” of the cultural history of Sag Harbor, and it may lead to uncovering more of Sag Harbor’s rich past. Ms. Hinkle will be signing copies of her book “Sag Harbor: 100 Years of Film in the Village,” which will be available at the event, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Sag Harbor Partnership’s cinema fundraising effort.

Join us for this fascinating look at local history.

Up Next: On Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m. renowned designer Marshall Watson will speak about his new book “The Art of Elegance” (see story on page A1).

Submitted by Tom Hashagen