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Sag Harbor Whaling Museum closing Sept. 11 for repairs

The Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, normally open until October, is to close early this year so repair work can begin on the historic building before the weather gets too cold for paint to properly dry.

The village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board gave the museum board approval two weeks ago to begin renovating the 1845 building, originally the home of whaling ship owner Benjamin Huntting -- then one of the East End's most prominent residents.

To issue its approval, the review board had to secure a certificate of appropriateness from the museum for the work on the building, one of the old whaling village's historic treasures.

The review board wanted assurances that repairs would be consistent with the building's historic appearance and that -- as workers removed rotted exterior wood -- the museum would repair hidden damage they discovered. The job grew more complicated because the lead-based white paint on the exterior must be properly removed, according to museum manager Greg Therriault.

That is the reason the museum board has decided to close on Sept. 11. "We're having a crew of 35. It's a huge project," Therriault said.

"The building is going to be stripped and repaired to [federal environmental] standards," he added. "We're very time-limited . . . because the painters need a good two months of warm weather."

Because of anticipated weather problems, exterior work is to be completed by Nov. 1.

When the museum first applied to do the work, its painting proposal did not include some of the more extensive repairs, such as replacing the front porch, side porch and gutters of the building. That is now included in the $180,000 project.

About six weeks ago, the museum came up with $50,000 to qualify for a matching grant that will go toward the cost of repairing the Greek Revival building.

"No one cares more about this building than we do" Therriault said. "We would never do anything other than what was most appropriate and respectful of this building . . . it's the jewel of the village."

Money for the repairs is being raised privately, he added.

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