Southampton Protects Sag Harbor Cinema

Gordon M. Grant

Town of Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and members of the town board voted to approve the purchase of a historic preservation and conservation easement to protect the architectural and aesthetic features of the Sag Harbor Cinema, including its façade and memorable neon sign.

“We could not have rebuilt the cinema nor preserved the historic façade without the support of the Town of Southampton,” said Susan Mead, treasurer of the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts. Center, Inc. “On behalf of the Sag Harbor Cinema, we thank the supervisor and the town board for assisting us in preserving this anchor of our historic and vibrant Main Street.”

Community Preservation Fund money was used to acquire a restrictive use easement on the property to eliminate commercial development rights and ensure that it be used for community cultural arts purposes. The town also agreed to purchase a façade easement to protect the art deco front face of the building, so iconic to the Sag Harbor streetscape. The restrictive use easement was purchased in November of 2018 and the façade easement closed this week. The combined rights provided the community cinema with $4 million toward its redevelopment.

The cinema, located on Main Street in the Village of Sag Harbor and within the historic district, was rebuilt following a devastating fire in 2016. This effort through the town’s Community Preservation Fund caps a several-year pursuit to protect the much-loved historic property.

In 2018, Southampton acted to permanently preserve the cinema’s historic and cultural values, including its use as a cinema arts center for films, lectures, and related activities. Under the agreement with the town, Southampton residents will receive movie theater tickets at a reduced price.

The nonprofit Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, Inc. now operates the cinema to provide programs and education for all ages. Grand opening festivities originally set for the second weekend in April have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Until the cinema reopens, first-run films and newly-restored classics can be viewed on the cinema’s website, .

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