The Mast-Head: Our Glass Ceiling

    Something fell from the ceiling in the Star building’s front office Tuesday morning, nearly striking Russell Bennett in the head.
    Things coming from above in the Star office take on more than a metaphorical significance when you consider that the first-floor lobby, if you will, has a ceiling made of glass panels held in place with a criss-crossing lattice of wooden slats. The ceiling presumably dates to when the building was put up by Everett J. Edwards, who was my great-grandfather. E.J., as he was known, opened the East Hampton Pharmacy here in 1901.
    I have long suspected that the interior woodwork, the mirrors, and the ceiling were not made locally and that E.J. ordered them up from a catalog of such things. Ours is a family that rarely throws anything of significance out; there probably is a receipt around somewhere that could shed some light on the building’s interior.
    George A. Eldridge, who rebuilt Clinton Academy, and Custis Lawrence, who designed the Hand building at 78 Main Street, were responsible for the Edwards Pharmacy building itself. In its first incarnation, there was room for a soda fountain and a telephone exchange with a back-room switchboard and a cot for the night operator.
    The glass ceiling itself is made up of somewhere on the order of 120 separate opaque panels with white and green swirls, Tiffany-like. The only other one like it around here that we know of was at what old-timers like me remember as Kelly’s Liquors on Main Street, most recently a pop-up art gallery.
    Our ceiling is in reasonably sound condition, but there are a few places where the building’s gradual lean toward the East Hampton Library has opened up narrow gaps between the lattice and the glass. A few of these spaces at some point in the past were bridged with small pieces of sheet copper, with scraps of lead type of the sort last used here in 1974 wedged in for good measure. It was one of these dropping with a thwack to the floor that got Russell’s attention.
    Russell is the first face most visitors to our office see when they step through the door. His desk is to the right, immediately behind a long table on which we stack the week’s copies for sale. He would have been missed had the lead and copper missiles laid him low.
    The shock over, he and I fetched a ladder and resecured the glass. Then I went back upstairs to write this column.