In 2016 a fire nearly destroyed the only arthouse cinema on the East End of Long Island. Five years and $18 million dollars later, the iconic, century-old Sag Harbor Cinema is once again open for business.
A former whaling village, Sag Harbor, NY, located between Southampton and East Hampton, was at one point a thriving working-class community full of artists like John Steinbeck. In recent years, deep pocketed homeowners flooded the sleepy enclave, creating more traffic and fancier village haunts. But despite the influx of affluence, Sag Harbor has managed to uphold its small-town, subdued, artistic vibe.
The village’s Main Street is home to Sag Harbor Cinema. Built to host vaudeville and burlesque shows in the 1890s, the venue become a silent movie house that evolved to show talkies. In 1978 Gerald Mallow bought the single-screen theater, which he owned until selling for $8 million in 2017.
When Sag Harbor Cinema— beloved for not only its obscure programming but also its 1930s red neon sign with the village name — burned down, “it was a massive trauma for the community,” explains artist and community activist April Gornik. “It caused tremendous pain.”