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Aug 21, 2012 1:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

With Help From Its Friends, Work Is Under Way At Amagansett Life-Saving Station

Aug 21, 2012 4:29 PM

Kent Miller sounded pretty excited last week.

There was a flagpole flying Old Glory, plus a lifeguard’s beach warning flag, outside the Amagansett Life-Saving Station on Atlantic Avenue. “It’s freakin’ beautiful,” he said of the 25-foot pole, which Ed Michels snagged for the historic station from the U.S. Coast Guard to stand in until the original 60-foot pole is replaced.

There was a meeting coming up this Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the East Hampton Town Marine Museum, at which the Amagansett Life-Saving and Coast Guard Station Committee will update the public on progress in restoring the venerable building, which was built in 1902 and will serve as a museum and base for town lifeguards.

And there was a giant step forward on that front—Ben Krupinski, the East Hampton contractor, had started restoring the exterior, which he’s doing free of charge, last Wednesday.

“He is incredibly generous. This was a dream come true,” Mr. Miller said. “We were just baby-stepping along.”

Mr. Krupinski was sold on the restoration project after his wife, Bonnie Krupinski, persuaded him in June to see a staged reenactment by the life-saving station committee of the landing of four Nazi saboteurs on the beach just down the road.

“‘Are you coming?’” Ms. Krupinski said she asked him, as she planned to take their grandchildren, Will Maerov, 16, and Charlotte Maerov, 12.

“You know, I was taken by it,” said the builder, whose workers had already started tackling the building’s wraparound porch and other exterior features by midday on Friday. Gutters that were sealed over will be restored. Michael Reilly of Calverton is fabricating windows to replicate original ones that were at one point replaced by doors. Riverhead Building supply is kicking in materials. Painters are brushing off their fees.

“We’re donating the outside,” Mr. Krupinski said. “Hopefully, it will be an inspiration” for others to help out with the interior.

Mr. Krupinski said he was struck at the reenactment by the fact that a young, unarmed Coast Guardsman had the nerve to run back to the station to report the would-be saboteurs who’d been instructed, if anyone discovered them as they landed on the beach, “to take them out.”

Relatives of the late John Cullen, who was that sentinel, turned out for the reenactment in June that retraced his steps.

“I got really interested,” Mr. Krupinski said, and he realized that the story (the Nazis were involved in an ultimately foiled, two-pronged plot that involved a synchronized landing in Florida from another U-boat) was significant not only to the local community, but in “the history of this country.”

“I’m glad my wife pushed me here,” he said. “It’s good to help out.”

The builder has kept a lower profile with other assists, among them donated services for the East Hampton Library children’s room addition and at Guild Hall and the Springs Library. In this case, however, he’s hoping to lead by a more conspicuous example.

“It’ll look great,” he said of the shingled, gabled exterior, which is to be completely redone, most likely in a matter of months. Robert Hefner, a historical preservation consultant, prepared a study that details the fine points of the original structure, whose boat ramp is one of the early features that will make a welcome return.

“We want to be able to tell the community that we’re moving,” Mr. Miller said. “We were just slow and steady. Now we can all rejoice.”

There will be lemonade and cookies at Sunday’s meeting to toast progress at the life-saving station. The East Hampton Town Marine Museum can be found on Bluff Road in Amagansett, not at all far from the station itself.

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By suzer67 (51), nanuet on Aug 23, 12 10:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
Great to give back, Ben! Good job
By SagHarborBob (91), Life is Good on Aug 24, 12 7:13 AM
1 member liked this comment