Almost 100 years after her death, philanthropist and former educator, Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage (1828-1918), known as Olivia, has been honored with a Historical Marker by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation (founded in 2004, and based in Syracuse, NY).
According to Greg Therriault, Museum Manager of the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, the marker, recently installed on the grounds of the museum, "Simply would not have come to fruition without the dedicated efforts of both Barbara Pintauro-Lobosco, outgoing Board President, and Southampton Town Historian, Zachary Studenroth
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage. (Photo courtesy of George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress)
Therriault explains further, "The William J. Pomeroy Foundation has been engaged in the historical organization throughout New York State to nominate significant women who played an important role in women's suffrage and women's rights. Once the application process was completed and received verification that the individual being nominated did indeed meet these criteria, and were worthy of the official recognition, the marker was approved in June and installed over the summer."
The Foundation launched its Historic Roadside Marker Program in 2006 to erect markers in towns and villages, and in April 2012 the program was expanded to include all municipalities and 501©(3) organizations as eligible grant recipients, and is pleased to report "That as of June 2017 [we] have funded over 400 Historic Markers in 50 New York counties. The participation and enthusiasm for this program has proven [to us] that our communities want to preserve their local history, and we want to help."
The marker is located right inside the south driveway gate of the museum property facing Main Street according to Therriault, and there will be an unofficial unveiling some time in October.
Sage, a former teacher in Syracuse and governess in Philadelphia, and second wife to Russell Sage, inherited millions upon the death of her husband, and used those monies to support educational and progressive programs throughout the remainder of her life and endowments following her death.
Having established the Russell Sage Foundation in the early 1900's to study social issues, she founded Russell Sage College. Her interest and support of endowments for women's programs was very in keeping with her commitment to education. Additionally, she helped fund, design and research projects by women. Her commitment to education extended to the donation of land and funds to numerous educational institutions, including West Point, Yale
University, Princeton University, Cornell University, Syracuse University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Vassar College (at that time an all-female school). In the mid-1900's she founded the Russell Sage College for Women.
Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, the former home of Olivia Sage. (Photo courtesy of Greg Therriault).
Her association with, and generosity to, the Village of Sag Harbor is legendary. Sage summered in both Sag Harbor and elsewhere, and purchased her home from the Huntting family in 1908, where she lived until her death. That home is now the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum.
In 1910, she funded the building of the John Jermain Library across the street from her then home, which she named in honor of her grandfather. Additionally, she donated funds to build Pierson High School, also named after a grandfather, and in 1908, she donated funds for a public park to be developed for villagers and visitors to enjoy. Having developed the extensive park system in Sag Harbor, Sage's vision resulted in both Mashashimuet Park and Otter Pond.
So when you are next checking out a book from the library to read and before proceeding to the park to enjoy the sunshine, step across the street to the museum and offer a nod of thank you to the generosity and vision of Olivia Sage.
For more information go to www.sagharborwhalingmuseum.org.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.