The evolution of a diverse community over three centuries is the focus of this year’s Sag Harbor Cultural Heritage Weekend, to be held Friday, May 18 through Sunday, May 20.

This year’s theme, “Sag Harbor: Diversity, Adversity and Change,” highlights the diverse communities that have contributed to Sag Harbor’s evolution from the first Port of Entry to the United States to a bustling whaling village to an industrial center to a literary and artistic haven and, finally, to one of the East Coast’s most desirable resort communities.

Preservation Long Island invites visitors to the Custom House Museum on Saturday for live music played on early colonial instruments; Surviving Political Turmoil, a new guided tour of the Custom House, which examines Henry Packer Dering’s 32 years in office as Sag Harbor’s first customs agent during tumultuous political times; and a demonstration of traditional boat-building techniques by the East End Classic Boat Building Society. The Custom House’s hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Canio’s Cultural Café will celebrate John Steinbeck with a marathon reading of “The Winter of Our Discontent.” The event begins on Friday, May 18 at 5 p.m. with a talk by Susan Shillinglaw, Director of the National Steinbeck Center.

“The Winter of Our Discontent” was Steinbeck’s last novel, written while he lived in Sag Harbor. It tackles themes of avarice, moral relativity, immigration, and displacement. The marathon will run Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. An after-party will follow at 3 p.m., with a silent auction featuring a signed, special edition of “The Red Pony,” a Steinbeck painting by David Slater and Arthur Leipzig’s photograph of a Sag Harbor worker from the 1960s.

The Sag Harbor Historical Society presents “Sag Harbor through Letters, Journalism, Costumes, Art, Photos, Scrapbooks and Local Voices” at the Annie Cooper Boyd House on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. This exhibit includes vintage clothing; letters, ledgers and diaries from Sag Harbor’s earliest days; early images of Sag Harbor by painters Hubbard Latham Fordham and Orlando Bears; a rare 1854 map of the village; and a projected display of photos taken by current residents of parts of Sag Harbor that will be interesting to future historians.

“Tell Me a Story” is a companion event at the Historical Society during the weekend that includes the videotaping of Sag Harbor natives and transplants alike as they talk about their most significant memories and experiences in the village. Residents are encouraged to sign up to tell their stories.

The John Jermain Memorial Library presents “Sag Harbor: Past and Present,” an afternoon of rare film clips and slides on Sunday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The images graphically illustrate the cultural and physical development of Sag Harbor over the years. Historical Society President Jack Youngs, supported by Save Sag Harbor, will lead a discussion of the changes to Sag Harbor’s architecture and community.

The John Jermain Memorial Library will also host  “Remember/Imagine,” an art workshop for children ages 7 to 11, on Saturday, from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Participants will explore their memories of and vision for Sag Harbor, creating two pieces to be displayed at the library in June: one that “remembers” a place of personal significance in Sag Harbor and one that “imagines” what that place might look like in the future. Register in advance by calling 631.725.0049, or sending an email to

“Record Your Sag Harbor Story,” an oral history recording booth inspired by StoryCorps, will be held at the library from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Anyone with a Sag Harbor story is encouraged to sign up for a recording session, along with a friend who will “interview” them. Pre-registration is required at 631.725.0049.

Temple Adas Israel is presenting a talk by Rabbi Daniel N. Geffen on Friday, May 18 at 4 p.m. One of the most profound fallacies associated with being Jewish is the idea that there is only one way to be/act/look Jewish. The Jewish community in Sag Harbor has always been comprised of different variations of Jewishness, just as the greater Sag Harbor community has always consisted of a multitude of religious and ethnic groups. Rabbi Geffen will discuss the diverse customs and traditions within Judaism, as well as the diversity of the Temple’s congregation and community, followed by a tour of the temple.

The Sag Harbor American Music Festival presents an afternoon concert by an artist to be announced on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the John Jermain Library, either in the library or, weather permitting, in the library’s Jefferson Street courtyard.

At noon on Saturday, The Rev. Karen Ann Campbell will give a tour of Christ Episcopal Church, emphasizing how changes in religious practice here have followed the economic tides of Sag Harbor, including Christ Church’s heritage as the first Episcopal presence on the East End in 1845. A highlight of the tour will be the church’s Tiffany Studio stained glass windows. At 12:30 p.m. Dr. Daniel Koontz will demonstrate the amazing range of the church’s Mouller 7 rank organ (built in 1975), with selections from Bach and others.

The Eastville Community Historical Society will host an exhibit at its Heritage House center taken from its extensive collection of historic Sag Harbor photographs entitled “Black Leisure: Respite In Sag Harbor,” with a focus on the African-American community here during the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s.

A guided walking tour of the historic Eastville neighborhood will leave the Heritage House at 2 p.m. Saturday, with stops at St. David AME Zion Church,  the St. David AME Zion Cemetery and the Heritage House, an original 1920s Sears and Roebuck catalog-order house. The exhibits will be open for viewing from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum is showcasing a photography exhibit: “Our Town, Sag Harbor in Focus,” a celebration of both the village of Sag Harbor and a reflection on living on the East End of Long Island as experienced by students from Pierson High School. It is also a celebration of the students’ creativity and achievement. The exhibit is free and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A panel discussion in conjunction with the exhibit, “Adversity, Diversity & Change,” will be held on Saturday, May 19 at 4 p.m.


East End Beacon
The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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