One of the many paintings that line the walls of Diane Schiavoni’s Oakland Avenue home depicts the Civil War memorial at the intersection of Main and Madison streets in the heart of Sag Harbor. Bought 16 years ago by Schiavoni, the painting details the statue, fence and urn at the memorial site, with Main Street adorned with lanterns in the background.
For Schiavoni, the painting portrays the historic details of her hometown — details she has worked hard to preserve and protect as a member of the historic preservation and architectural review board and honorary member of the Sag Harbor Ladies Village Improvement Society.
On Friday, one of Schiavoni’s latest missions — to restore the Civil War memorial — was completed after a crew of village employees dropped a restored 1,500 to 2,000 pound urn, historically a horse trough, on the green of the memorial. The urn, restored by iron craftsman John Battle, was the final piece in a two-year project that began with the restoration of the iron fence around the memorial.
“The area is now spruced up for Memorial Day,” said Schiavoni on Tuesday with a grin. “The fence is restored, the statue power-washed and the lovely urn now sits majestically on its new base.”
Dedicated in October of 1896, Sag Harbor’s Civil War memorial had fallen into disrepair, the iron fence and gate were damaged, missing spikes and the urn cracked and chipped with a damaged base, although still lovingly planted with flowers each spring by the LVIS, noted Schiavoni.
“I was inspired to do the project after it was brought up at an LVIS meeting, so I just picked up the ball and did it,” said Schiavoni. “Twenty years ago I did the lampposts the same way.”
The lampposts that line Main Street cost nearly $100,000, so this project was less daunting, she said. Schiavoni gained pledges from Sag Harbor residents before starting a campaign to raise the funding to replace the fence through the sale of commemorative spikes. The fence project, also restored by Battle, was completed last summer at a price of $28,000.
The Sag Harbor Historical Society and agents at the Sag Harbor branch of Corcoran Real Estate, said Schiavoni, made the restoration of the urn possible through a generous contribution at a total cost of $2000. The historical society also helped Schiavoni move a plaque dedicated to Josephine Bassett, another woman who dedicated her life to the beautification of Sag Harbor, next to the restored urn.
“It was really the result of the cooperation and coordination of several people that this was completed,” said Schiavoni on Tuesday. “I truly feel indebted to the village crew and Jim Early for lifting this nearly 2,000 pound urn onto its base, to John Battle for doing such an amazing job restoring the urn, to Bill Labrozzi for transporting it for us.”
Schiavoni’s son David donated the concrete for the project through his company East End Ready Mix.
Through photographs, Schiavoni also discovered the urn used to have a lantern at its center when it was used as a horse trough.
“So Gabe [Schiavoni, her husband] put a pipe down the center of the urn and tapped off both ends so — in the event that someone or even myself decides to install a lantern — the electricity will be right there,” said Schiavoni. “But the LVIS fills the urn with such beautiful flowers, I wonder if a lantern would be right there.”