By Kathryn G. Menu
On the strength of major donations from two local businesses and a partnership with a local crowd-funding platform, Goodcircle, the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum is well on the way to raising the money needed to restore the front porch of the museum, the Benjamin Huntting House.
As of Wednesday evening, fundraising for the porch had reached $22,355 on Goodcircle’s website, goodcircle.org. The goal for the porch is $24,750, which left Barbara Pintauro-Lobosco, the head of the museum’s board, confident the effort would be successful by its Thursday, May 15, deadline.
While individual contributions have enabled the project to move forward, according to Ms. Pintauro-Lobosco, it is two businesses—the Sag Harbor-based Tom O’Donoghue Associates and Cape Resorts, the resort management side of Cape Advisors—that have contributed more than half of the money raised.
Tom O’Donoghue Associates, a firm that handles new construction and historic renovations on the South Fork, has pledged $15,000 toward the project, and Cape Resorts, which is redeveloping the former Baron’s Cove Inn, has contributed an additional $5,000.
The money will be used to restore the museum’s front porch, and make it accessible to the handicapped. The restoration project will include replicating original porch railings, long absent at the front of the building. The funding is expected to cover the cost of labor and materials.
“We found out about goodcircle.org through one of our board members, Robert Chaloner, who is the CEO of Southampton Hospital,” said Ms. Pintauro-Lobosco. “It’s important to start working with social media. We don’t want to have to keep going back to our community alone for support each time, because they are so good to us and to all the non-profits in Sag Harbor. This enabled us to reach out for a different kind of support, from people who are savvy to this kind of fundraising.”
Similar to kickstarter.com, goodcircle.org is an online portal to raise funds for projects. The difference is much like the two projects it is currently hosting, goodcircle.org is a local business and tech start-up based in East Hampton and co-founded by Fred Doss and Joan Overlock.
“It’s been great in that we have been able to reach out to people who may not have otherwise gotten involved,” said Ms. Pintauro-Lobosco.
In addition to the Whaling Museum fund drive, goodcircle.org is also hosting crowd-funding for the non-profit Philanthropic Relief, Altruistic Service and Development Children’s Dental Health Program, which is raising funds to provide dental hygiene supplies for 4,000 children in prekindergarten through 12th grade in Sullivan County, New York. Main Beach Surf & Sport owner Lars Svanberg has pledged $1 for every $25 raised online or spent at the store in support of the project. Fundraising began May 1 and will continue until July 30. The goal is to raise $9,700, and so far just $125 has been donated by three backers.
For the whaling museum, success of the fund drive for the porch is just one of several fundraisers the non-profit will host in an effort to fully restore the museum. On May 23, it will open its Whale of a Show exhibit, “Salt Air Exhibition II,” curated Sag Harbor artist Dan Rizzie and gallerist Peter Marcelle, and the museum will host its summer kick-off A Whale of a Party on Sunday, May 25.
All proceeds of the events will go directly toward the three-phase restoration of the Benjamin Huntting House, which began last year with repairs to the building’s exterior, including the restoration of finials on the roof and gutter repairs, as well as a full repainting of its exterior—a project estimated to cost at least $260,000.
According to Ms. Pintauro-Lobosco, the museum has raised about $200,000 of that funding so far. A second application of paint, she added, will have to be applied in the fall and repairs to a porch on the north side of the building are ongoing. The front porch restoration, funded through goodcircle.org, she added, should be completed in time for the museum to open its doors for the season.
A second and third phase of the project have also been planned, including interior repairs to shore up the building’s plumbing system, as well as improvements to the museum’s grounds.
Some issues, said Ms. Pintauro-Lobosco, like the plumbing system, will have to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
“This could be a two to five year restoration plan, but we are in this for the long haul,” she said. “We love this building and we want to make sure we can use it in a way that serves the whole of our community.”