Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne has designated 16 sites in 11 states as new National Historic Landmarks, including five sites in New York. The designation recognizes the sites as nationally significant historic places because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.
National Historic Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture. Many of the most renowned historic properties in the Nation are landmarks. Mount Vernon, Pearl Harbor, the Apollo Mission Control Center, Alcatraz, and the Martin Luther King Birthplace in Atlanta, Ga. are landmarks that illustrate important contributions to the Nation’s historical development.
The newly designated sites range from the Aaron Copland House in Cortlandt Manor, NY where the musician worked and lived from 1960 until his death in 1990; to The Forty Acres in Delano, Calif., which served as the headquarters for the first permanent agricultural labor union in the United States, the United Farmworkers of America; to Lyceum in the Circle Historic District of Oxford, Miss. where riots and unrest accompanied the ultimately successful efforts of James Meredith to transfer from a historically black college to the previously all-white University of Mississippi.
Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff, who work to nominate new landmarks and provide assistance to existing landmarks. Completed nominations are reviewed by the National Park System Advisory Board, which makes recommendations for designation to the Secretary of the Interior. Designation as a National Historic Landmark automatically places a property in the National Register of Historic Places, if it is not already so listed.
The new sites were formally designated on October 7, 2008. The designations also included the acceptance of additional documentation for three existing sites, a boundary change for two existing sites and a name change for one existing site.
For more information on the National Historic Landmark Program, please visit www.nps.gov/history/nhl/.
New National Historic Landmarks in New York
Aaron Copland House, Cortlandt Manor, NY
* Aaron Copland purchased this house, known as “Rock Hill” in 1960 when he was 60 years old; it was his home, studio, and base of operations for the next 30 years, until his death in 1990.
* Copland was one of the most important and profoundly influential figures in the history of American music. Copland’s compositions brought a distinctly American sound, character, and zest to the European-bred classical music tradition.
* Copland’s reputation rests on works such as Billy the Kid, Rodeo, Fanfare for the Common Man, and Appalachian Spring—a series of compositions on American subjects and lore that has few equals. By age 50, Copland had become one of the pivotal figures in American musical history. While at this property, Copland composed symphonic works, as well as ballet, chamber, orchestral, and piano works.
* This house reflects Copland’s lifestyle, values, and personal modesty.
Camp Uncas, Mohegan Lake, NY
* Camp Uncas was developed 1893 to 1895 on Mohegan Lake in what is now the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
* Camp Uncas is one of the best examples of Adirondack camp architecture, which was designed for leisure. It is of exceptional historical and architectural significance as the first Adirondack camp to be planned as a single unit by William West Durant, widely recognized as one of the most important innovators of the property type.
* At Camp Uncas, Durant developed the camp as a single cohesive unit: a “compound plan” for camps that provided for an array of separate buildings, all subordinate to the natural setting. Camp Uncas was built as an ensemble from start to finish.
* The Adirondack camp had a strong and lasting influence on the design of rustic buildings developed for national and state park systems in the 20th century.
* The Renaissance Revival First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Kingston, New York was designed by Minard Lafever, who is considered one of the most important architects practicing in antebellum America.
* The First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church is deserving of recognition within the larger body of Lafever’s work as a mature handling of Renaissance Revival forms and details, an eclectic mode that he helped to pioneer in America. He used a number of classical sources and precedents, including those of English architects Sir Christopher Wren and James Gibbs.
* The church is one of the most intact and most fully-developed examples of Lafevers Renaissance Revival work, a style that he was heavily involved in developing and promoting.
* Completed in 1912 and 1935 respectively, the Frick Collection and Arts Reference Library in New York City comprise an institution that is considered one of the great legacies of the first period of major art collecting in the United States, one of the defining activities of the Gilded Age elite.
* Among his contemporaries, Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919) stood out as both a collector and, with his superb Carrère & Hasting edifice sensitively designed for a high-profile Fifth Avenue site, architectural patron.
* Frick’s daughter’s establishment of the library was meant to encourage and develop the study of the fine arts and enhance her father’s legacy through education and scholarship.
* Frick’s vast fortune, knowledge of the arts and architecture, and desire to create a monument of the most personal sort resulted in a museum and institution with few rivals. It is one of the best examples of the arts house museum subset of the museum building type in the nation.
* The collection and arts library maintain an uncommon degree of physical integrity that conveys the exceptional importance of the Frick as a cultural institution and as an outstanding work of architecture.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
* The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is nationally significant as one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most important commissions during his long, productive, and influential career.
* Built between 1956 and 1959, the museum is recognized as an icon of mid-20th century modern architecture. One of his last works, the Guggenheim represents the culmination of a lifetime of evolution of Wright’s ideas about an “organic architecture.”
* At this point in his career in the late 1940s and 1950s, Wright was experimenting with combinations of hexagons, spirals, and circles and produced designs with spiraling and circular forms. No matter what the museum and art professionals thought of the building as an art museum, they could not question the building’s power and genius as a design.
* The Guggenheim launched the great and continuing age of museum architecture, where the building is a central part of the museum experience, on par with its contents.