Category Archives: Historic Preservation

New Chair For Historic Districts Council


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unnamedThe Historic Districts Council, an advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods representing a constituency of over 500 local community organizations, has named Daniel J. Allen, Board President.

“Mr. Allen has been a valued member of the HDC board for several years. His knowledge and experience as both a professional and community preservationist make him an ideal candidate and we are very happy to welcome him into this new position,” Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s Executive Director said in a statement to the press. Continue reading

Comments Sought On Historic Lake Champlain Islands, Facilities


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Bluff_Point_Light_on_Valcour_IslandThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a Draft Lake Champlain Islands Management Complex Unit Management Plan (Draft UMP) in compliance with the Adirondack State Land Master Plan. The plan includes a number of historic and recreational sites.

Public comments on the plan are being accepted through September 18, 2015. A Public Meeting on the Draft UMP will be held August 20th in Plattsburgh. Continue reading

Historic House Demolition Spurs Film Project


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IMG_9264(1)Blink and another house is bulldozed. Most don’t even notice, so I’d like to tell you the story of what happened in my backyard. Unfortunately, it does not have a happy ending.

In Rosalie Fellows Bailey’s Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses and Families in Northern New Jersey and Southern New York, the Lent House (built in 1752) is linked to Abraham de Ryck, one of the earliest settlers in New Amsterdam. The house was built by or for Abraham Lent, who served as Colonel of the First Regiment of Militia of Fort Orangetown during the American Revolution. Continue reading

Preservation Grants Available, Applications Due Soon


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Preservation League of New York State LogoApplications are now available to eligible municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to compete for Technical Assistance Grants (TAG), a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor has provided additional support for the fall TAG funding round.

A total of $28,690 is available, which includes $18,690 from NYSCA and $10,000 from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. Funds from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor must be used within the corridor. Continue reading

South St Seaport Among America’s Endangered Places


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South Street Seaport in the 1970sThe South Street Seaport has been named one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places according the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since 1988, the National Trust has used this campaign to raise awareness about the threats facing some of the nation’s greatest treasures.

The South Street Seaport is a designated NYC Historic District and is considered the first World Trade Center, as it was NYC’s birth place of commerce. Continue reading

State Historian Bob Weible Stepping Down


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Robert+WeibleNew York State Historian Robert Weible, who also serves as Chief Curator of the New York State Museum and leads the State Museum’s History Office, has announced that he will retire from state employment. His last day will be Wednesday, July 15, 2015.

According to Antonia Valentine, spokesperson for the New York State Education Department: “The Museum will conduct a national search for candidates for Chief Curator of the Museum and New York State Historian over the next several months. In the interim, the Museum’s History Office will report to the State Museum Director.” Continue reading

Rondout National Historic District: A Walking Tour


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Church steeple with Mary Power steamship weathervane, seen from President's Place.A walking tour of The Rondout-West Strand National Historic District in Kingston, sponsored monthly by Friends of Historic Kingston, contrasts the results of a heartbreaking 1960’s urban renewal project with the gentrification that followed in an area that escaped the wrecking ball.

After the entire east side of Lower Broadway was demolished in 1967 vintage 19th century buildings on the opposite side stood empty, awaiting what seemed their inevitable fate. Luckily, federal funding ran out and what is today the Rondout – West Strand National Historic District was spared. New structures were built part-way up the east side of the hill. The restored neighborhood brings to my mind the painful image of a one-winged bird. Continue reading

Stonewall Inn Named Historic Landmark


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Stonewall Inn circa 1965On June 23, the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to designate the Stonewall Inn an Individual Historic Landmark. The site is the location of the Stonewall riots of June 1969, an event that helped spark the current LGBTQ Pride Movement.

The building is already protected as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and its significance derives entirely from its historical, social and cultural importance, rather than architectural, marking it a unique designation for the LPC. Continue reading

James Reynolds Day Salutes Revolutionary War Veteran


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IMG_0193More than a decade ago, Anne Hutchinson-Bronxville Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) member Virginia Reynolds Hefti was credited with helping to save the historic Mt. Zion Burial Ground – part of a historic corridor in Somers, NY – from the threat of commercial development.

Situated on both sides of Primrose Street, the historic corridor also includes the 1794 Mt. Zion Methodist Church (the second oldest surviving Methodist chapel in Westchester County), The Reynolds Homestead, and the Angle Fly Preserve, a 654 acre tract of open space. The historic church and burial ground are listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Continue reading

Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion


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modern ruinA film screening of “Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion,” Matthew Silva’s documentary about an abandoned structure designed by modernist icon Philip Johnson for the 1964 World’s Fair.The film tells the story of the Pavilion from the glory days of the fair, through the years of neglect, up to present day advocacy.

The filmmakers hope this project will be the first step in engaging and informing people about the building in new and exciting ways. This whimsical, futuristic, and soaring structure, constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, has been left abandoned for the greater part of 50 years. Continue reading

A Revolutionary War Cemetery Reveals More Secrets


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn historical researcher studying the pension files of Revolutionary War veterans has identified a Maryland officer who died at the Fishkill Supply Depot and was buried in a long-abandoned Revolutionary War cemetery threatened by development.

In late 2007, an archaeological team rediscovered the cemetery on privately-owned land just south of the Van Wyck Homestead along U.S. Route 9. The Van Wyck Homestead served as the headquarters for what was George Washington’s principal supply depot during the Revolutionary War and is the site’s only remaining structure. Continue reading

1752 Rockland County House Destroyed For Strip Mall


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Lent-House-Featured-Revised-copyThe campaign to save the historic Lent House in Orangeburg (in Orangetown, Rockland County) was lost on Saturday morning, April 4th. The decisive blow was delivered by a backhoe. The 263-year-old house was reduced to a pile of rubble in less than two hours.

Less than two weeks before, architect and preservationist Walter Aurell was optimistic that the house could be spared. After learning about the unexpected annihilation, Aurell wrote, “It is very upsetting that in a Town whose motto is ‘Rich in History’ we have lost another significant piece of that very history – and its replacement in the public realm will be another strip mall.” Continue reading

I Love My Park Day May 2nd


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Andrew Cuomo at I Love NY Parks DayThe fourth annual I Love My Park Day will be on May 2nd.  I Love My Park Day is a statewide event that seeks to improve and enhance New York’s parks and historic sites. Volunteers clean up winter damage and other debris on park lands and beaches, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, and work on various site improvement projects.

Nearly 90 parks and historic sites are expected to participate this year, from Montauk Point to Niagara Falls. The annual event is sponsored jointly by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and Parks & Trails New York. Continue reading

5 Women Who Changed The Face Of New York City


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Yolanda GarciaIn honor of Women’s History Month, the Historic Districts Council remembers five extraordinary women who changed the face of New York City:

Yolanda Garcia (1952- 2005), founded Nos Quedamos/We Stay in the early 1990s to preserve her neighborhood of Melrose Commons in the Bronx. In 1992 neighborhood residents discovered that the City was planning to evict them to realize an urban renewal plan. Incensed by the idea that their reward for enduring years of abandonment, arson and crime would be eviction, they confronted officials and sparked a productive dialogue about preservation and planning in the Bronx that continues today. Their efforts have become a model for community-based planning. Continue reading

Talk Planned On Staatsburg Estate Owners


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Staatsburg BookAnthony Musso, author of Staatsburg: A Village Lost in Time (2014), will give a talk entitled “Staatsburg: Its Estate Owners and Their Impact on the Village” at Staatsburgh State Historic Site on April 11, 2015.

The tiny community of Staatsburg was once the home of several large estates.  As Musso writes in his book on Staatsburg, each of the estates “had an impact on the character, finances and preservation of the village and its surroundings.”  Continue reading