History of the Bear
When the new East Northport Library opened its doors in October 1997, it invigorated downtown East Northport and became a focal point of definition and pride. The building has historic prominence in the community, as it resides on the site of the original 1940 East Northport Library. Photographs of the old library show a huge maple tree towering over the small brick building and attracting children to its shade and shelter. Years later, the tree was severely damaged in a storm and had to be removed.
In 1997 artist Frank Bono carved an 11-foot wooden sculpture, The Library Bear, which was mounted on the original maple tree stump as a significant memorial to the old maple tree. It stood as a wonderful, welcoming, and whimsical invitation to enter the warm, friendly library building.
Sadly, after eight years, the bear began to deteriorate. The Library arduously worked to stabilize and maintain the condition of the bear to preserve it for the community. Concerned about the public’s safety and the soundness of the bear, the Library Board of Trustees was forced to make the decision to remove the sculpture in early 2005.
The Library Board recognized that the bear sculpture had become a landmark in downtown East Northport and therefore invested funds to create a rubber mold allowing the original bear to be replicated.
The library began a fundraising campaign to bring back the bear as a
bronze sculpture in the fall of 2006.
With generous support from the community the campaign reached its goal by summer 2007. Sculpture House Casting then began the many stages of transforming the rubber mold into a bronze sculpture. In December a bronze replica of the Library Bear was installed in front of the East Northport Library, surrounded by a new brick walkway recognizing donors to the Bring Back the Bear campaign. A dedication ceremony was held on December 15, 2007.
Bear Dedication 12-15-07
It takes a community to Bring Back a Bear. It takes Frank Bono’s gift in 1997 of his inspired chainsaw wooden sculpture. The Library Bear awakened the child in all of us. It takes a dedicated Board of Trustees – Robert Little, Betsy McGrail, Ruth McKay, Ronald Gaudrealt, and Andrea Gladding who are visionary, proactive and supportive. It takes a Bring Back the Bear Staff Committee of unparalleled talent who for the past 14 months have enthusiastically worked on this project:
Mary Ellen Moll
and the exceptional and incomparable James Olney and Eileen Minogue.
It takes a Library Staff whose daily countenance and care ensures success in every aspect of the library’s service. It takes Alan Olita, our Head of Buildings & Grounds whose incredible knowledge and diligence guarantee outstanding results. It takes our local legislators; our own Senator John Flanagan, Senator Carl Marcellino, Assembleman Andrew Raia, and Suffolk County Legislator Lynne Nowick who stand up and support the wide spectrum of opportunity local libraries bring to each of us living on Long Island.
It takes the Town of Huntington Supervisor, Frank Petrone, and Town Council, Susan Berland, Stuart Besen, Mark Cuthberson, and Glenda Jackson, who have enabled the library to place the Library Bear in its present location. It especially takes Patricia Flynn , town attorney, who assisted in so many immeasurable ways. It takes Sculpture House, the foundry who carefully removed our original Bear and beautifully recreated him in his permanent bronze replication. It takes Brothers II Landscapes who designed this Bear Walk. And, it takes David Levitsky, once a library page now a professional videographer, who has chronicled the Bring Back the Bear story for prosperity. The DVD is soon to be released and distributed widely. The reality however is it took you, our community, to Bring Back the Bear. A community who lovingly embraced and contributed to this dream. On behalf of the Library, the Board of Trustees, and the staff, I thank each and every one of you who have enabled this gift, our beloved Bear. From this day forward, far and wide, we will again be known as the library with the bear.” Now we will unwrap the Library Bear and the Bear Walk. Please join us back inside for hot chocolate and cub cookies.
Speech given by Stephanie Heineman-Library Director