SEA CLIFF TO CELEBRATE STENSON LIBRARY CENTENNIAL THIS SATURDAY
May 25, 2015 -- On May 13, 1915, with the Great War raging in Europe, and America's precarious neutrality shaken by a German U-boat's torpedoing of the British passenger liner Lusitania only six days earlier, in the summer resort village of Sea Cliff, the Stenson Memorial Library on Sea Cliff Avenue opened its doors for the first time to the public. The Sea Cliff Village Library will be hosting a centennial celebration for the recently restored one story neo-classical structure this Saturday, May 30, 2015.
For more than 50 years, the Stenson building, donated to the community by Ms. Mary Stenson in memory of her husband Samuel, who had been a library trustee, was home to the Village's library, until 1971, when the adult branch migrated across the street to its current location at Village Hall (formerly the Methodist Church). At the urging of librarian Virginia "Mimi" Mullen, the Stenson building became the Children's Library, with Ms. Mullen, serving as its first librarian until 1982. Current Children's Library Coordinator Ann DiPietro became Ms. Mullen's successor in 1989 after the position had gone unfilled for most of the decade.
Having undergone changes to its interior over the years, many of the library's original features, in particular its coved ceiling and skylight, lay hidden by a dropped ceiling until demolition work in preparation for planned renovations this past winter uncovered the hidden treasure. (See article to the right)
The discovery of the beautiful architectural details led to a change of plans, with some of the renovations now more appropiately being called a "restoration," and the project became very much a community effort with Landmarks Association President Leslie Guerci helping with much of the interior design, local architect Jim Carballal with the architectural details and resident Debra Dumas with the lighting. North Shore High School design intern Caroline Wenger not only helped with some of the detailed painting (see image right) but also was able to observe and participate in the interaction of the designer with the building renovation crew, contractor, and architect.
Over budget with the original proposals for the ceiling and flooring being abandoned in favor of the more costly refurbishment that would bring the building's interior closer to its original grandeur, several local organizations and residents stepped up, offering their generous financial support to keep the project in the black.
The library reopened its doors early this month, and on May 13th celebrated the anniversary of the building's opening, Founder's Day, as it has been for many years - with a Maypole Dance.
Saturday's centennial celebration will be held from 1- 4 pm, and feature community presenters as well as speakers Frank Murray, President of the Library Board of Trustees, Mayor Bruce Kennedy, State Senator Carl Marcellino, Assemblyman Charles Lavine, Nassau County Community Development Director David Crosley, Library Director Arlene Nevens, and Children's Library Coordinator Ann DiPietro. Fun activities are planned for the kids, and fun food and refreshments will be served. See articles to the right for more information about the library's restoration. Sponsors of the event include B. Brown's, Il Villagio, Metropolitan Bistro, King Kullen of Glen Cove, Villa Meci of CVS Plaza, Grassroots, Printstars, Inc., Citibank of Sea Cliff, and the Friends of the Library.
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High school design intern Caroline Wenger hand painting the centennial dates of the Sea Cliff Library on the wall of the library.