By Tessa Raebeck
With the first phase of a three-part plan to renovate and restore the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum nearly complete, necessary additional repairs — and fundraising efforts — are on the rise.
Following complaints about the museum’s exterior appearance voiced to building inspector Tim Platt last May, restoration of the historic 1845 building, also the home of the Waponamon Lodge No. 437 Free Masons, began September 15.
“We can certainly say the scope of the project has grown,” Barbara Lobosco, president of the museum board, said Tuesday. “Like most planned undertakings, things crop up during the course of the project.”
The first phase of the plan covers the repairs and painting of the building exterior, including removal of 10 layers of paint — the last being lead.
The contractor, Ince Painting Professional of Westhampton Beach, which has worked on historic buildings like the Hannibal French House in Sag Harbor and the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, originally estimated the first phase of the project would cost $180,000.
More product removal was required than was originally allotted for and, at this point, the estimated cost for the first phase is closer to $260,000.
“With any project,” Lobosco said Tuesday, “what happens is you underestimate budgets and so on and so forth, other things open up that need to be fixed as well. When you work with an historic building of this age, new doors open up to new repairs.”
The actual application of the new paint is almost entirely completed. The museum is now in the midst of repairs to the porches and gutters, as well as partial repairs to the capital tops of the building columns.
The finials on the roof, which resemble blubber spades and whale teeth, are also undergoing restoration.
The building’s interior is covered by the second phase of the restoration project, which is not expected to begin for a year or so. Several issues have already materialized that necessitate projects the museum had planned to address in the future to be confronted within the next few months.
“We’d rather replace the pipes before they burst,” said Lobosco, referring to deteriorating, galvanized pipes in the basement that need to be restored.
Additionally, the entire basement must be cleaned.
“As we get inside the building,” said Lobosco. “We’ll need more [repairs] as well.”
The third phase of the capital campaign addresses repairs to the building grounds and will likely be implemented prior to the second phase of interior renovations.
“We want to finish the outside first so that it’s cohesive,” said Lobosco.
The museum plans to landscape the property before the summer, fix the front and back porches and repair the exterior fencing.
“The fence is going to be another big issue,” said Lobosco. “We’ve cleaned it up now, but it’s going to cost at least $60,000 just to repair.”
With continuous costs and essential repairs yet to be determined, the museum’s fundraising for the capital campaign is ongoing. Close to $180,000 in funding has been raised so far. The total cost is at present around $260,000, which will only cover the cost of painting. More funding is essential for the museum to move forward with the rest of the restoration process.
Last March, the museum’s fundraising efforts for the capital campaign kicked off with a $50,000 matching grant from the Century Arts Foundation earmarked towards the repair work. The Whaling Museum plans to host three fundraising events this holiday season, exhibit several beneficiary shows this spring and continually solicit private donations throughout the course of the project, according to Lobosco.
This Friday, the museum is hosting an auction at the Peter Marcelle Gallery in Bridgehampton. Available items include a 200-year-old woven basket, gift certificates to a variety of restaurants in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, donations from In Home and other local stores, and framed film posters from the 1960s and 1970s donated by the notable filmmaking couple Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker, who live down the street from the Whaling Museum. Value of auction items range from $50 to $1,000.
“We’ve been getting local donations which have been great,” said Lobosco. “The community’s been terrific, especially with the auction items. The merchants in town have been very supportive of the museum and our efforts to move forward.”
On December 23, the museum will raffle off a brand new 2013 Fiat 500 Cabrio Pop from Brown’s Fiat in Patchogue. The sleek, black convertible has red and ivory seats and an ivory and black interior. Just 350 tickets are for sale at $100 a piece.
To further aid with fundraising, BookHampton is sponsoring a holiday book sale on the museum’s front lawn on weekends throughout the holiday season. The store will match money raised “dollar for dollar,” said Lobosco.
With its interior closed for the winter, the museum plans to reopen for the season on Earth Day with a show by local artist and Pierson Middle/High School art teacher Peter Solow, with sales from his work also earmarked for the capital campaign.
At the official opening on Memorial Day, “a whale show” is going to be on display. Proceeds from the paintings will be split 50/50 between the artists and the restoration project. Funds raised via three additional shows during Summer 2014 will also go towards the restoration efforts. The exact content of the shows is unannounced at this point, but Lobosco said one show will consist of only Sag Harbor artists.
In addition to special events, the museum continues to raise funds through its mail drive and individual donations. Lobosco is also hopeful for another matching grant.
“It will be ongoing for years,” she said of the restoration projects, “so the fundraising efforts will continue.”