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The John Jermain Memorial Library’s renewal demonstrates how contemporary expressions can complement the scale and intimacy of earlier architectures, celebrating curiosity and love of learning by welcoming and inspiring community. It repositions a Beaux Arts gem to continue serving as local information portal and gateway to the future.
Located in this historic whaling village on the South Fork of Eastern Long Island, the Library originally was commissioned and built by the philanthropist and suffragist Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage in memory of her grandfather, Major John Jermain, in 1910. Over 100 years, high winds and water, including damage from a 1938 hurricane, had eroded the grand neo-classical façade. Rather than move to new construction, thousands of stakeholders rose up to support this beloved jewel, financing the project with a public referendum and private fundraising.
Restoration included preservation of the 35-foot-tall copper dome and terracotta-tiled rotunda, originally designed by Guastavino Fireproof Construction Co. Original terrazzo floors and Stuc Pierre plaster work was rediscovered. A new accessible main entrance preserves the original monumental portico, and the original building was brought up to code. Original locally fired red bricks were repointed or reused. A new three-story addition at the back of the structure features large glass panels separated by stainless steel and aluminum. The glass reflects the original building and provides panoramic views to Sag Harbor. Expansion enabled removal of accrued intrusions so that original public spaces again serve as library heart and circulation armature. New levels house stacks, technology, and community uses in spaces that can evolve over time. The facility promotes connections between people, town and library, and local and global communities.