Restoration of John Jermain Memorial Library Begins

Posted on 23 July 2011

Just weeks after moving into a new temporary home on West Water Street in Sag Harbor, the John Jermain Memorial Library board of trustees was granted approval to begin exterior repairs to their historic Main Street library. It is the first phase of a complete renovation, restoration and over 7,000 square-foot expansion of the 101-year-old library that is expected to take from two to three years to complete.

On Thursday, July 14 architect Richard Munday and historic preservation expert Raymond Pepi, flanked by JJML Library Director Catherine Creedon, presented plans for the first phase of the restoration to the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB).

According to Creedon, library officials are “anxious” to get started on this first phase of the restoration, citing leaks in the building that have “increased exponentially” in the last year alone.

“The work proposed today is just one part of what we anticipate will be many phases with many presentations to the ARB,” said Munday.

The first phase involves the complete re-pointing of brick masonry that surrounds the historic structure, as well as repairs to the building’s limestone trim and cornice.

According to Pepi, his firm — Building Conservation Associates — has done a complete study of the whole building, assessing the exterior to determine what historic materials can be repaired and what needs to be replaced.

The original mortar, said Pepi, is a mixture of cement and limestone and has “experienced a significant amount of erosion” over the last 100 years, even with minor repairs made to the building over the course of its existence.

In addition to re-pointing the brick masonry, and repairing the mortar and limestone trim, ultimately, Pepi said a series of treatments will be applied to the library. These will ensure that with proper maintenance the building will no longer leak when the restoration and expansion is done.

The limestone trim and cornice, said Pepi, will be repaired with any missing pieces replaced with Indiana limestone – the same used when the building was first constructed.

All of the brick, granite and limestone will also be cleaned, he said.

Sag Harbor ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown wondered if the new mortar used to replace eroded material would look different from what exists today.

Pepi said his firm has analyzed the existing mortar and has been able to match the new mortar so that it will closely resemble the color of the mortar that is on the library now.

“The bricks and the limestone have weathered themselves naturally,” he noted. “It doesn’t make sense to change it. We will keep a harmonious balance in terms of the mortar.”

The board unanimously approved the repairs, and according to Creedon, library officials hope to begin the project this September.

Thiele Continues Gas Wars

According to a press release issued by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. last week, he intends to file monthly surveys of gasoline prices on the South Fork with the New York State Attorney General in an effort to stop price gouging in the region.

Thiele said he plans to submit a survey comparing South Fork gas prices with other parts of New York State as a follow-up measure to price gouging he said occurred on the East End over Memorial Day weekend.

While the American Automobile Association provides a survey of gas prices in the state, Thiele said there is no survey that looks solely at the South Fork. He said he would provide the attorney general with the average price of gas on Montauk Highway in an effort to show what a majority of stations are charging for the fuel.

“The Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an investigation of gasoline prices in March and has been actively collecting data throughout the state, including the South Fork, as part of his review,” said Thiele in a statement.

Thiele had contacted the State Attorney General after Memorial Day weekend when South Fork gas prices remained high at $4.25 cents per gallon when the Long Island average was $4.08 and the state average was $4.02.

Thiele said he has also sponsored legislation aimed at strengthening New York’s laws on zone pricing of gas, which is the establishment of changes in the cost of fuel based on geographic locations, without regard to wholesale costs.

“It was clear that on Memorial Day prices had been kept artificially high simply to exploit the crowds flocking to one of America’s most popular vacation communities,” said Thiele.

In Thiele’s July 13 survey, the most prevalent price on the South Fork was $3.99 per gallon at nearly a half dozen stations on Montauk Highway. He said this was $0.03 cents more than the average for all Long Island, $0.10 cents more than the New York State average, and $0.02 cents less than the price of gas in New York City.

“Gasoline prices are still too high, nearly a dollar higher than a year ago,” said Thiele. “However, since I contacted Attorney General Schneiderman, the differential between the South Fork and the rest of the State has narrowed considerably. I appreciate his work on behalf of our motorists.

“To insure fairness in gasoline pricing requires constant vigilance and strong laws,” he continued. “I will provide the Attorney General with price data from my district monthly and will continue to seek strong legislation to inhibit price gouging of our residents.”

Sunday Riderships Soars

According to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, the number of riders on a newly introduced Sunday bus service on the East End has doubled in the pilot program’s second week.

Schneiderman said the first Sunday bus two weeks ago carried 396 passengers, but last Sunday an additional 190 passengers rode the bus, bringing the total riders using the public transportation to 586.

“This level of use demonstrates the clear need for public transportation on Sundays,” said Schneiderman.

For close to a decade, Schneiderman fought to make Sunday and holiday county bus service a reality on the East End, citing the resort community’s workforce, which is reliant on the service, as well as an increased desire for public transportation options.

The pilot program was approved this spring, increasing fares by $0.50 to $2 in order to offset the cost. Schneiderman said this week he would like to see the pilot program extended to the rest of Suffolk County.

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2 Responses to “Restoration of John Jermain Memorial Library Begins”

  1. D. Shawn Beckwith says:

    Regarding the mortar. See Depratment of Interior Historic Preservation Brief #2 on historic mortars.
    I am interested in that correct HP treatments are performed on the strucutre so the structure can compliment the streetscape for another 100 years and the family manuscripts ( Starr Gardnier Cooper Collection) is preserved with a controlled climate for future generations to use.
    D. Shawn Beckwith
    Historic Restoration Specialist
    ( 13 Generation Cooper Family)

  2. Thank you for your comment Mr. Beckworth. Our preservationists on the project, Building Conservation Associates (BCA), have reviewed the Department of the Interior’s specs as well as numerous other resources as part of their work on John Jermain. I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit their labs and library–it was a wonderful experience! Additional information on their approach to mortar restoration can be found here:

    Please let me know if you have additional questions–and I too, am looking forward to the climate controlled archive.
    Catherine Creedon, Director
    John Jermain
    631.725.0049 x223

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