Tag Archives: Historic Districts Council

Bungalows of Rockaway: Film Screening, Discussion

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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) will show the 2010 documentary film, “The Bungalows of Rockaway,” produced by Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris follwed by a panel discussion.

The film highlights the rich history of the Rockaway bungalows. Although of the more than 7,000 bungalows dotting the peninsula in 1933, fewer than 500 remain today. 
The documentary, narrated by Estelle Parsons, features rare archival footage, maps, and interviews with historians, prominent New Yorkers, and several of the longtime residents and vacationers.

In 2012, HDC named the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalows to its Six to Celebrate list, six historic New York City neighborhoods that merit preservation as priorities for HDC’s advocacy and consultation over a yearlong period. HDC is working with the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association to get the remaining bungalows of Beach 24th, 25th and 26th Streets on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and to raise awareness about this irreplaceable part of New York City’s history.

The screening will be followed by a “Q & A” session and discussion with Richard George, executive director of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association; Nancy Solomon, director of Long Island Traditions and author of the National Register nomination; David Selig, owner of Rockaway Taco; Jeanne DuPont of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, andthe filmmakers. The program will be moderated by journalist Eve M. Kahn.

The event will be held on Monday, June 11, at 6:30 pm at Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue at East 2nd Street, Manhattan.  Fees: $10 for the general public, $5 for Friends of HDC, seniors and students. Advance reservations are required. Tickets can beordered via Paypal through hdc.org or by calling 212-614-9107. A limited number of complimentary tickets will be available to Far Rockaway residents. Please contact ftolbert@hdc.org for more information.

Photo courtesy Historic Districts Council.

Tracking New York City Historic Preservation Efforts

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The Historic Districts Council has created an online archive and email newsletter, “HDC@LPC,” which documents both applications to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission for major changes to landmark buildings as well as HDC’s testimony on each proposal.

HDC, the citywide advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, is the only organization to review and comment on hundreds of applications to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission for significant alternations to landmark buildings in all five boroughs.

Each week HDC’s Public Review Committee reviews applications and testifies at public hearings as to the appropriateness of proposed changes. Through its testimony, HDC both advises the Commission about inappropriate applications and acknowledges exceptional design that sensitively treats and responds to historic buildings and districts.

In addition to the weekly e-mail newsletter, HDC@LPC can be accessed at www.hdc.org/hdc@lpc/. HDC@LPC contains archived testimony dating back to 2005 and can be searched by neighborhood and historic district.

Preservation Conference: NYC Public, Open Spaces

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The Historic Districts Council (HDC), the citywide advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, will host its 18th Annual Preservation Conference, “The Great Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Spaces,” March 2-4, 2012.

“The Great Outside” will focus on significant open spaces and landscapes in New York City, including public parks, plazas, parkways, yards, planned communities and public housing. Participants will examine a variety of issues such as development history, current threats, preservation efforts and future use. Speakers will address both broad issues as well as smaller, neighborhood-based battles. Attendees will gain a strong understanding of how open space conservation and preservation works in New York City. The conference is co-sponsored by more than 200 community-based organizations from across the five boroughs.

The conference begins on the evening of Friday, March 2 with an opening reception and a keynote address, “Change, Continuity and Civic Ambition: Cultural Landscapes, Design and Historic Preservation,” by Charles A. Birnbaum, founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the country’s leading organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes. This event will take place from 6-8pm at New York Law School, 185 West Broadway in Manhattan.

The conference continues Saturday, March 3 with two panels examining the preservation of public and private open space: distinguished speakers include author and curator Thomas Mellins; landscape architect Ken Smith; Thomas J. Campanella, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at University of North Carolina; independent scholar Evan Mason, and Alexandra Wolfe of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. The Saturday conference will also present networking opportunities where attendees will learn about the latest campaigns dealing with open space concerns across the city. The Conference will be held at Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, between East 6th and East 7th Streets, Manhattan.

On Sunday, March 4, HDC will host five related walking tours in a diverse group of New York City neighborhoods and sites with significant public and private open spaces, including Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens, public and private plazas of Midtown Manhattan, Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, the North Shore Greenbelt of Staten Island, and a bicycle tour of the changing waterfront of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Advance reservations are required.

Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx A National Historic Landmark with a stunning array of mausoleums and world class landscape design.

Midtown’s Public Plazas See the renowned as well as little-known public plazas that dot the landscape of Midtown Manhattan. Many were designed by prominent landscape architects as public amenities.

Northshore Greenbelt of Staten Island is part of the larger green belt that makes this the second largest area of city parkland in New York.

Sunnyside, Woodside and Beyond. This tour highlights a variety of significant landscapes including the early garden style housing of Sunnyside and the public housing in nearby Woodside.

Williamsburg and Greenpoint Waterfront Bicycle along this changing face of Brooklyn and learn about the large new waterfront towers, public parks and plans for the future.

HDC will offer several pre-conference programs with content related to open space issues. On February 5 at 8:30am at 232 East 11th Street, Andy Wiley-Schwartz, assistant commissioner of the city Department of Transportation, will present new and affordable pedestrian spaces created from underutilized street segments through the DOT Public Program. Both of these programs are free to the public.

Fees: March 2 Opening Night Reception and Keynote Address: $35, $30 Friends of HDC, Students & Seniors; March 3 Conference: $25, $15 for Friends of HDC & Seniors, Free for students with valid ID; March 4 Walking Tours: $25. Reservations are necessary for all programs.

For more information or to register for the Conference go to www.hdc.org or call (212) 614-9107.

The 18th Annual Preservation Conference is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez.

The conference is also co-sponsored by the New York Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects and more than 200 Neighborhood Partner organizations.

Photo: Statue of George Washington (by Henry Kirke Brown, 1856) in the middle of Fourth Avenue at 14th Street, circa 1870; the statue was later moved to the center of Union Square Park. Courtesy Wikipedia.

NYC Historic Districts Council Names ‘Six to Celebrate’

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The Historic Districts Council, New York’s city-wide advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods, has announced the 2012 Six to Celebrate, an annual listing of historic New York City neighborhoods that merit preservation attention. This is New York’s only citywide list of preservation priorities.

The six neighborhoods were chosen from applications submitted by neighborhood groups around the city on the basis of the architectural and historic merit of the area, the level of threat to the neighborhood, strength and willingness of the local advocates, and where HDC’s citywide preservation perspective and assistance could be the most meaningful. Throughout 2012, HDC will work with these neighborhood partners to set and reach preservation goals through strategic planning, advocacy, outreach, programs and publicity.

“Neighborhoods throughout New York are fighting an unseen struggle to determine their own futures. By bringing these locally-driven neighborhood preservation efforts into the spotlight, HDC hopes to focus New Yorker’s attention on the very real threats that historic communities throughout the city are facing from indiscriminate and inappropriate development.” said Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s Executive Director. “As the only list of its kind in New York City, the Six to Celebrate will help raise awareness of local efforts to save neighborhoods on a citywide level.”

Founded in 1971 as a coalition of community groups from New York City’s designated historic districts, the Historic Districts Council has grown to become one of the foremost citywide voices for historic preservation. Serving a network of over 500 neighborhood-based community groups in all five boroughs, HDC strives to protect, preserve and enhance New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods through ongoing programs of advocacy, community development and education.

The Six to Celebrate will be formally introduced at the Six to Celebrate Launch Party on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 5:30-7:30pm at the Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery at East First Street). For more information or tickets, visit www.hdc.org.

The 2012 Six to Celebrate (in alphabetical order):

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Elegant rowhouses, Victorian-era mansions and pre-war apartment buildings combine with parks, vibrant commercial streets and impressive institutional buildings to make Bay Ridge a quintessential New York City neighborhood. For more than 30 years, the Bay Ridge Conservancy has been working to preserve and enhance the built environment of this architecturally and ethnically diverse area.

Far Rockaway Beachside Bungalows, Queens

Once upon a summertime, Far Rockaway was the vacation spot for working-class New Yorkers. Although recent decades have erased much of this history, just off the Boardwalk on Beach 24th, 25th, and 26th Streets rows of beach bungalows built between 1918 and 1921 still stand. The Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association is seeking to preserve and revitalize this unique collection of approximately 100 buildings.

Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Situated between Riverside Park and Morningside Park, two scenic landmarks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and developed mainly between 1900 and 1915, Morningside Heights is characterized by architecturally-unified apartment buildings and row houses juxtaposed with major institutional groupings. The Morningside Heights Historic District Committee is working towards city designation of this elegant neighborhood.

Port Morris Gantries, The Bronx

In the South Bronx neighborhood of Port Morris, a pair of ferry gantries deteriorating in an empty lot may seem an eyesore to some, but the Friends of Brook Park sees them as the centerpiece to an engaging public space. Taking inspiration from other New York City waterside parks, this new park will combine recreation, education, and preservation of New York’s history for residents and visitors alike.

Van Cortlandt Village, The Bronx

Once the site of Revolutionary War-era Fort Independence, Van Cortlandt Village developed into a residential enclave in the 20th century. Built on a winding street plan designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, responding to the hills and views of the area, the neighborhood consists of small Neo-Colonial and Tudor revival homes and apartment buildings, including the Shalom Alecheim Houses, an early cooperative housing project. The Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association is seeking to bring awareness to the neighborhood’s historic and architectural value as well as nominate it to the National Register of Historic Places.

Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn

Located in the heart of Brooklyn, Victorian Flatbush is known for being the largest concentration of Victorian wood-frame homes in the country. The area presently has five New York City Historic Districts, but the blocks in between them remain undesignated and unprotected despite architecture of the same vintage and style. Six local groups representing Beverly Square East, Beverly Square West, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West, South Midwood and West Midwood have joined together with the Flatbush Development Corporation to “complete the quilt” of city designation of their neighborhoods.

New Plaque Honors Edith Wharton

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New York City’s Historic Districts Council and the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center have commemorated the life and work of Edith Wharton, author of “The House of Mirth” and “The Age of Innocence” with a historic plaque. Born in 1862 at 14 West 23rd Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District, Wharton was a chronicler of New York City’s Gilded Age and trendsetter for her generation.

The plaque is part of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center’s Cultural Medallion program. The Center, chaired by Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (HDC’s 2011 Landmarks Lion), has installed almost 100 medallions around New York City to heighten public awareness of New York’s cultural and social history.

Distinguished Edith Wharton scholars, including Susan Whissler, executive director of The Mount, participated in the plaque unveiling.

Photo: Photograph taken in Newport, Rhode Island, of author Edith Wharton, wearing hat with a feather, coat with fur trim, and a fur muff. Image courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Historic Districts Council to Honor ‘Landmark Lion’

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The Historic Districts Council, the citywide advocate for New York’s historic districts and for neighborhoods meriting preservation, will present its annual LANDMARKS LION AWARD on October 26 to renowned preservationist Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. Participating in the award ceremony will be architect and 2010 Landmarks Lion Award recipient Robert A. M. Stern, former governor Mario M. Cuomo and architect Hugh Hardy. Since 1990 the Landmarks Lion Award has honored those who have shown unusual devotion and aggressiveness in protecting the historic buildings and neighborhoods of New York City.

Throughout her 40-year career Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel has been a leading voice on some of the defining urban issues of our time, including the preservation of the historic built environment of our country. She was the first Director of Cultural Affairs in New York City and was the longest-serving Commissioner on the Landmarks Preservation Commission, under four New York mayors. She currently serves as the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center and the Vice Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts. She is a founding Director of the High Line, a repurposed, elevated train line turned into a successful park on Manhattan’s west side.

Says Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s executive director, “Barbaralee’s vision of a city is one where not only do the people make the buildings, the buildings help make the people. Thanks to Barbaralee, we learn to look at New York as a continuum; a place where ideals flow from the past, defining our present and shaping our future.”

In regards to her work outside of New York City, she was appointed to the United States Commission of Fine Arts by President Clinton, and was the first woman Vice Chair of the C.F.A. in its 100-year history. Most recently, President Obama named her a Commissioner of the American Battle Monuments Commission, which has responsibilities related to the design, construction, and maintenance of military memorials throughout the world. In 2010, Barbaralee was appointed a trustee of the Trust for the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

As part of her activism, Barbaralee has broadened public awareness of the arts and culture through many media. She has used her rich experience with civic involvement as an interviewer/producer for seven television series about the arts, architecture, design, and public policy for Arts & Entertainment Network, and many programs for other networks. Over a hundred of her interviews are now available online, digitized by the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive at Duke University.

The author of 20 books on art, architecture, design, and public policy, Barbaralee’s encyclopedic work, “The Landmarks of New York, V” will be published in September 2011 and is being accompanied by an 11-city traveling museum tour throughout New York State.

The Landmarks Lion Award dinner and ceremony will take place on Wednesday, October 26, 2011, at 6:30pm, at the Four Seasons Restaurant at 99 East 52nd Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, Manhattan.

The Landmarks Lion Award is HDC’s major fundraising event and provides critical support for the broad range of educational and outreach programs that are crucial to HDC’s constituency which includes more than 500 neighborhood organizations. The Council is dedicated to preserving the integrity of New York City’s Landmarks Law and to furthering the preservation ethic. 2011 marks HDC’s 40th year of preserving the City’s historic neighborhoods.

For more information on the event or to purchase tickets, contact HDC at 212-614-9107, hdc@hdc.org, or visit our website at www.hdc.org.

Historic Districts Council Elects New President

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The Historic Districts Council, the citywide advocate for New York’s historic neighborhoods, has elected architect Françoise Bollack as the organization’s eighth president. Ms. Bollack is the first woman to serve as HDC’s President.

Françoise Bollack, AIA, is a registered architect with over 30 years of experience in architectural design, preservation and adaptive reuse. Born in Paris, France, Bollack was educated at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts. In 1982 she founded Françoise Bollack Architects in New York City to provide high quality architectural services to private and institutional clients with socially meaningful programs.

Françoise Bollack has served on the Board of the Historic Districts Council since 2007 and chairs the Designation Committee. She is on the Board of Landmark West! and has served as Director on the Board of the Architectural League of New York and the New York State American Institute of Architects. She is a co-founder of the Women in Architecture Committee of the AIA. She lives on Central Park West in a landmark apartment building.

Bollack’s goals as President of the Historic Districts Council are to “strengthen connections with groups engaged in advocacy efforts in New York City, promote high quality design in historic districts, support good government measures and a fully funded LPC. We all love New York City,” Bollack says, “and we want to make sure that it functions and that the architectural and social value of its historic neighborhoods is celebrated.”

HDC is currently celebrating its 40th Birthday this year, and a major part of its new programming is the “6 to Celebrate” program, created by Bollack. This is New York’s only citywide list of preservation priorities. Throughout 2011, HDC will work with these neighborhood partners to set and reach preservation goals through strategic planning, advocacy, outreach, programs and publicity.

Bollack has been an Adjunct Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University since 1985, participating in the fall and spring studio and teaching “Design Principles for Preservation” then directing the expanded Fall Studio 1 “Understanding and Documenting Historic Architecture”. In 2009 she began teaching the seminar “Old Buildings – New Forms” based on her ongoing examination of cutting edge designs of additions to old buildings, world-wide: she is currently working on a book about this subject to be published by WW Norton in 2012.

Bollack’s recent design projects include significant interventions in major architecturally and culturally significant public buildings such as the New York State Capitol building in Albany, the Chesterwood Museum in Stockbridge Massachusetts, and the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York City. These projects explore the relationship between historic architecture and new interventions with a rich repertoire of inventive solutions. Her firm’s projects have won awards from the Municipal Art Society, American Institute of Architects, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Victorian Society in America.

Founded in 1971 as a coalition of community groups from New York City’s designated historic districts, the Historic Districts Council has grown to become one of the foremost citywide voices for historic preservation. Serving a network of over 500 neighborhood-based community groups in all five boroughs, HDC strives to protect, preserve and enhance New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods through ongoing programs of advocacy, community development and education.

Historic Districts Council Preservation Awards

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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) presented its annual Grassroots Preservation Awards to seven organizations and individuals on May 12th in the garden of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District. This year, HDC is celebrating its 40th year of advocating for New York City’s historic neighborhoods.

“These advocates are the foundation of the preservation movement and their efforts benefit everyone who lives, works or visits New York City,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of HDC. “It’s an honor to be able to shine the spotlight on these neighborhood leaders.”

2011 Grassroots Awardees

Cedar Grove Beach Club

Established on the North Shore of Staten Island in 1911, Cedar Grove Beach Club is the last beach bungalow colony on the island. In 1962, the club land was taken by eminent domain but residents were allowed to remain and continued to restore the buildings and keep the beach clean and accessible. However in 2009, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation declared that they were evicting the residents in order to demolish the majority of the bungalows. The Beach Club rallied to stop this action but was unsuccessful. Their campaign, however, raised awareness about this special piece of New York City’s cultural history.

Central Queens Historical Society

In 1988, Jeffrey Gottlieb established the Central Queens Historical Association to advocate for preservation of the borough’s significant areas, including Kew Gardens, Jamaica, and Richmond Hill. Through his ongoing advocacy campaign for downtown Jamaica, the LPC moved forward on the designation of several historic structures including the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce Building, Queens General Court House, two Jamaica Savings Bank buildings, and Jamaica High School.

Mary Kay Gallagher

Mary Kay Gallagher has been a leading figure in Brooklyn’s Victorian Flatbush area for more than four decades. She founded Mary Kay Gallagher Real Estate in 1970, in part to help find sympathetic buyers for the wealth of large, free-standing Victorian-era homes that dominate Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Prospect Park South, Ditmas Park, Fiske Terrace, Midwood Park, Beverly Square West and Caton Park.

Prospect Cemetery Association

Cate Ludlam has been the driving force behind Prospect Cemetery Association, a group dedicated to preserving and restoring Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens. The site is the oldest burial ground in Jamaica, with burials dating back to the mid-17th century. Ludlam has led the group through an intensive effort to reclaim the largely abandoned cemetery and recently completed a restoration of the adjacent Chapel of the Sisters.

Friend in High Places
State Senator Bill Perkins, 30th District, Manhattan

Senator Perkins currently serves as State Senator from Manhattan’s 30th District. Both in his role as New York State Senator for the past five years and previously during eight years as a city councilmember, he helped champion numerous preservation causes. Recently he has been a strong supporter for the designation of the West End Avenue Historic District and a Morningside Heights Historic District, and the successful designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church. Among the other preservation campaigns Senator Perkins has been involved with include holding public education programs on tax incentives for historic properties and leading the effort for more comprehensive legislation to improve oversight of the landmarks process.

Friend from the Media

The Architect’s Newspaper

Since its founding in 2003, The Architect’s Newspaper has featured broad coverage of preservation and development–related issues from across the city. Looking beyond concerns of architectural design, the paper has covered important neighborhood preservation issues such the proposed redevelopment of St. Vincent’s Hospital, the tower proposal at 980 Madison Avenue and the future of Coney Island in depth. Although it is targeted towards a self-identified audience of architects and design professionals, AN’s coverage is both balanced and accessible, with a deep understanding of the arcana of New York City’s development world.

Mickey Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement
Bronson Binger and Ann Walker Gaffney

Bronson and Ann have been tireless preservation advocates for decades. Bronson served New York City as Assistant Commissioner of Capital Projects for both the Parks Department and the Department of General Services. As Vice President of the Municipal Art Society, he saw the need to form a committee to protect the city’s historic neighborhoods, which later became the Historic Districts Council. He was closely involved in several successful campaigns, including the creation of the Carnegie Hill, Upper East Side, and Sailors’ Snug Harbor Historic Districts. Trained as a Graphic Designer, Ann has contributed her art of logos, brochures and invitations for many not-for-profit organizations. She served on the Historic Districts Council’s board of directors for almost 20 years as well as serving on the Board of The Fine Arts Federation and as a governor of the Brooklyn Heights Association for many years.

Historic Districts Council’s NYC Preservation Priorities

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The Historic Districts Council, New York’s city-wide advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods, has announced it’s first Six to Celebrate, a list of historic New York City neighborhoods that merit preservation attention. This is New York’s only citywide list of preservation priorities.

The Six were chosen from applications submitted by neighborhood groups around the city on the basis of the architectural and historic merit of the area; the level of threat to the neighborhood; strength and willingness of the local advocates, and where HDC’s citywide preservation perspective and assistance could be the most meaningful. Throughout 2011, HDC will work with these neighborhood partners to set and reach preservation goals through strategic planning, advocacy, outreach, programs and publicity.

“Neighborhoods throughout New York are fighting an unseen struggle to determine their own futures. By bringing these locally-driven neighborhood preservation efforts into the spotlight, HDC hopes to focus New Yorker’s attention on the very real threats that historic communities throughout the city are facing from indiscriminate and inappropriate development.” said Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s Executive Director. “As the first list of its kind in New York, the Six to Celebrate will help raise awareness of local efforts to save neighborhoods on a citywide level.”

Founded in 1971 as a coalition of community groups from New York City’s designated historic districts, the Historic Districts Council has grown to become one of the foremost citywide voices for historic preservation. Serving a network of over 500 neighborhood-based community groups in all five boroughs, HDC strives to protect, preserve and enhance New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods through ongoing programs of advocacy, community development and education.

The 2011 Six to Celebrate (in alphabetical order):

Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
The Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood contains an astonishing number of architecturally, historically and culturally significant structures, including rowhouses, mansions, religious buildings, and schools dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although there are currently two designated historic districts in the area, the vast majority of Bedford Stuyvesant’s architectural splendor is unprotected. The recently-formed Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, a coalition of concerned neighborhood block associations, and the landmarks committee of Brooklyn Community Board 3 are working to correct that.

The Bowery, Manhattan
One of Manhattan’s oldest thoroughfares, the Bowery, stretching from Cooper Square to Canal Street, has a fascinatingly rich history which has left an equally rich built environment. From a fashionable shopping and residential neighborhood at the end of the 18th century, to bustling center of drygoods, hardware and other specialty stores, to an entertainment mecca and later the notorious “skid row” in the 20th century, the Bowery was always a part of the city’s culture, for better or for worse. In recent years,, the mix of historic structures along the street has been extremely threatened by high-rise hotel development. The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors was formed to help save the remaining historic buildings on the Bowery and to celebrate the avenue’s interesting and important history.

Gowanus, Brooklyn
The Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus nominated the neighborhood surrounding the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. This unique area retains its largely industrial character, with some of the businesses dating back more than 75 years. In recent years, plans for the canal have conflicted with the existing character of the neighborhood and some significant industrial structures have been demolished for out-of-scale, speculative development. However, with the canal’s recent designation as a federal Superfund site, there is now an opportunity to successfully advocate for the preservation of the industrial character of the area and retention of significant structures associated with this history.

Inwood, Manhattan
Inwood, at the very northern tip of Manhattan, combines striking geography of hills and views with notable architecture that includes art-deco apartment building, Tudor Revival houses, and unique elements such as the 215th Street Steps, the Seaman-Drake Arch and the historic Isham Park. Despite this, very little of the neighborhood’s historic buildings are protected or even official acknowledged. The Volunteers for Isham Park is working to identify and protect the neighborhood’s landmarks.

Jackson Heights, Queens
Jackson Heights is New York City’s first planned neighborhood of “garden apartments” and “garden homes”. These airy, light-filled residences, combined with commercial, institutional and recreational buildings, provided an attractive environment for middle-class families to live when it was developed in the early 20th century, and it still does today. The Jackson Heights Beautification Group, established in 1988, is seeking to extend the boundaries of the existing Jackson Heights Historic District, landmarked in 1993, to better reflect and protect the actual historic neighborhood.

Mount Morris Park, Manhattan
The residential area adjacent surrounding Mount Morris Park in Harlem includes elegant rowhouses and larger apartment buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Romanesque Revival, neo-Grec and Queen Anne styles. The longtime civic group, the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association, is seeking to expand the boundaries of the current city-landmarked Historic District, which does not adequately represent the elegant architect of this Harlem neighborhood.

Learning in New York:NYC’s Historic Schools and Libraries

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Join the Historic Districts Council, the advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, for ”Learning in New York” a series of programs exploring the City’s fascinating collection of 19th and 20th century educational buildings.

The entire series is available for $60/$40 for Friends, seniors & students. Advance reservations are required. Tickets can be ordered online, calling 212-614-9107 or e-mailing hdc@hdc.org.

The Architecture of Knowledge: New York City’s Historic Schools and Libraries
Tuesday, October 19, 6:30pm, LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan
Fee: $35/$25 for Friends, seniors & students.

This panel will examine the architecture of school and library buildings across New York City, highlighting their history as well as reuse and restoration. Bruce Nelligan of Nelligan White Architects will showcase his firm’s renovations to historic schools in The Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, ranging from 1893-1930, highlighting discoveries about evolving construction techniques and various approaches to rehabilitation. Throughout the five boroughs, there are 55 public libraries still existing of the original 67 built with industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s support. Rashmi Sen, principal of Sen Architects will discuss her firm’s work renovating several Carnegie Libraries in Brooklyn and The Bronx. Through her efforts, these libraries have been successfully updated and modernized, while retaining and restoring their distinctive historic features. Jean Arrington is a scholar of C. B. J. Snyder, New York City School Superintendent from 1891 to 1923, who designed and constructed more than 400 new buildings and additions. Ms. Arrington will discuss Snyder and how he changed school design both in New York and nationally. This program will be a good introduction for attendees of the related walking tour that is part of this series.

An Educational Walk Through Chinatown: C.B.J. Snyder’s Schools, Andrew Carnegie’s Libraries and Everything In Between
Saturday, October 23, 11:00am, exact location announced upon registration
$35/$25 Friends, students & seniors

The second program of the series will be a walking tour highlighting the rich architectural legacy of public educational buildings in New York City through an examination of those schools designed by Superintendent C. B. J. Snyder, several Carnegie Libraries and other institutions of learning throughout Chinatown. Snyder scholar Jean Arrington will co-lead this tour and discuss several extant Snyder school buildings in the neighborhood, some of which are now being adaptively reused. Tour co-leader and noted guide Justin Ferate will explain the interesting historic development of this diverse immigrant neighborhood, visiting other significant institutional buildings including two existing Carnegie Libraries at Chatham Square and Seward Park.

Learning On Screen: New York City Schools in Popular Film

Wednesday, November 3, 6:30pm, LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan
Fee: $15/$10 for Friends, seniors & students

New York City schools have been the backdrops for some of film’s most celebrated moments, from “Blackboard Jungle” to “Fame”. This fun and informative program explores the portrayal of New York schools in popular film throughout the twentieth century. The program will be led by architectural historian and educator John Kriskiewicz.

HDC Inaugurates ‘Six to Celebrate’ Program

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The Historic Districts Council, the advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, is inaugurating a new advocacy program called “Six to Celebrate.” Every year HDC will solicit submissions from neighborhood groups, large and small, that feel their areas’ architectural significance, special character and historic qualities are worthy of preservation. The purpose of this initiative is to provide strategic help to the chosen neighborhood groups at a critical moment so that they reach their preservation goals. The program will help local residents learn to use the tools at their disposal to put in place a preservation strategy — documentation, research, zoning, landmarking, public awareness campaigns, publications.

In recent years HDC’s concentrated advocacy has resulted in the designation of Sunnyside Gardens, Queens and Midwood Park/Fiske Terrace, Brooklyn, to name just a few. Six to Celebrate builds on this history, formalizing and publicizing this process. For the period of a year the chosen areas will receive HDC’s hands-on help making their case with public officials, strategizing and implementing all aspects of a process leading to statutory protection of their neighborhood. HDC will continue to assist neighborhoods that have not been selected this year (and they may apply next year).

From its long experience helping neighborhoods campaign for landmark status and zoning consistent with their special character, HDC will coach neighborhood leaders on:

* how to establish, for their district, boundaries that recognize its special character

* how to involve other community members

* how to formulate an argument for preservation and present their case convincingly

* how to create goals and make plans to meet them

* how to develop education programming and public outreach, and

* how to secure the support of elected officials and other key players in the equation

A copy of the application form can be found here. The neighborhoods submitted for consideration must be distinct areas – not individual parks or structures. They must be located in New York City, and be architecturally and/or socially and historically significant.

HDC Presents Annual Grassroots Preservation Awards

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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) will present its Eleventh Annual Grassroots Preservation Awards to eight organizations and individuals tomorrow, Thursday, May 20th at 6p.m. at the garden and parish hall of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery at East 10th Street and 2nd Avenue, in the St. Mark’s Historic District in Manhattan.

Every year, the Historic Districts Council honors and celebrates the activists and groups who work to preserve New York City’s valuable historic neighborhoods.“These advocates are the foundation of the preservation movement and their efforts benefit everyone who lives, works or visits New York City,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of HDC. “It’s an honor and pleasure to be able to shine the spotlight on these neighborhood leaders.”HDC is the citywide advocate for New York’s designated historic districts and for neighborhoods meriting preservation.

This year’s Grassroots awardees are:

Alice and Agate Courts Historic District

A quiet enclave of 36 intact Queen Anne style row houses on two cul-de-sac blocks — Alice and Agate Courts Historic District is honored for their effectiveness in fighting demolition threats and for their success in achieving landmark designation for their blocks in 2009.

John Antonides, Hubbard House

Proud owner of one the few remaining Dutch farmhouses in Brooklyn, John Antonides began campaigning for landmark designation for this 1830’s era Gravesend, Brooklyn house in 1990. Through his work gathering support from a diverse group of individuals and organizations including, citywide preservation groups, local elected officials, noted architectural historians, neighborhood residents, and Dutch-American historical groups, the house was designated by the LPC in 2009.

Coalition to Save West-Park Presbyterian Church

A group of dedicated individuals and organizations, including Landmark West!, Friends of West-Park, Manhattan Community Board 7’s Landmarks Committee, and Councilmember Gale Brewer, who have advocated for the preservation of West-Park Presbyterian Church, one of the most significant religious complexes on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts

In 2001, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts began advocating for an extension of 74 buildings to complete and compliment the original Upper East Side Historic District. Their campaign included an interactive website documenting each property to be included in the proposed district, listing the extension on the National Register of Historic Places, and holding lectures, walking tours and community meetings to raise awareness. The district was designated in March 2010.

Two Bridges Neighborhood Council

Since the 1950’s, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council has served a distinct community in lower Manhattan between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. One of its recent major campaigns was the successful listing of the Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, which provides a host of benefits including financial incentives for building restoration, boosting tourism of the area, and documenting the important history of these unique communities.

Friend in High Places – Council Member Rosie Mendez 2nd District, Manhattan

Council Member Rosie Mendez receives the Friends in High Places Award for her steadfast support of preservation efforts throughout her district and across the city. Mendez was elected to City Council in 2006 and represents the Lower East Side, East Village, Gramercy, Kips Bay and parts of Murray Hill.

Friend from the Media – Nicholas Hirshon, New York Daily News

Nicholas Hirshon is a reporter with the New York Daily News, covering community-based stories in Queens. Born and raised in Queens, he has made a priority of covering neighborhood preservation issues including a series entitled “History in Peril,” that highlighted significant neighborhoods and buildings threatened with demolition.

Mickey Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement – Joyce Mendelsohn

An ardent and dedicated advocate for the preservation of many neighborhoods and buildings across New York City, Joyce Mendelsohn was an early and consistent promoter for the preservation of the historic Lower East Side. She is honored for her tireless work as a writer, lecturer and tour guide, working to preserve New York City’s historic neighborhoods.

The event is open to the public at a cost of $25, $15 for Friends of HDC. Community sponsorships for the event are also available. To purchase sponsorships or program book ads, please call (212) 614-9107 or e-mail hdc@hdc.org. Individual tickets will be sold at the door. Doors open at 6pm, and the award ceremony will begin at 6:30pm. For more information, go to www.hdc.org or call 212-614-9107.

The Historic Districts Council is New York’s only citywide grassroots advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods. Since 1971 we have been committed to preserving New York’s rich architectural and historical heritage, working with communities to landmark and protect significant neighborhoods and buildings, as well as helping already-designated historic communities to understand and uphold the Landmarks Law.

New York City Landmarks Law Celebrates 45 Years

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In celebration of the forty-fifth anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, the New York Preservation Archive Project is launching a new website, landmarks45.org, to encourage recognition of this event and chronicle the past five decades of preservation history. This project is being done in partnership with Historic Districts Council, the Neighborhood Preservation Center and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Landmarks45.org features a group blog, a calendar of preservation-related events, a publicly editable preservation history wiki, and a dedicated space for preservationists to share their memories, photographs and documents. Users can edit the Preservation History Wiki – a growing chronology of NYC preservation history – or upload their own photographs and documents to the website via the blog comments.

Both individuals and organizations are encouraged to add their work to the record. Examples of material might include the story behind a particular landmarking campaign, notice of a group’s founding, or photographs of a forgotten protest. Contributions will both celebrate the many achievements of New York’s preservationists and help the Archive Project construct a detailed timeline of preservation history.

For further information, visit landmarks45.org or contact info@landmarks45.org.

Addisleigh Park: Jazz Greats, Sports Stars & Politicians

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On Tuesday, March 2, 2010 (from 6:30-8:30pm) the New York City Historic Districts Council will offer a cultural resource survey presentation on Addisleigh Park, a little-known but culturally significant neighborhood in Southeast Queens. The event will be held at the Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, Manhattan.

In 2007 HDC began an effort to document Addisleigh Park, home to numerous major African-Americans figures such as James Brown, Roy Campanella, W.E.B. DuBois, Count Basie, Lena Horne, Jackie Robinson and Ella Fitzgerald (to name just a few). Once completed, they submitted all the material to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, who recently calendared a historic district, partially in response to our work. This free program will allow participants a firsthand look at the research and learn more about this neighborhood and its storied past.

The event is free to the public. Reservations are required, as space is limited. For more information, please contact Kristen Morith at (212) 614-9107 or kmorith@hdc.org.

Conference: Preservation in New York – The Next Generation

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The New York City Historic Districts Council has announced the Sixteenth Annual Preservation Conference, “Preservation in New York: The Next Generation” which will examine the future of preservation in New York City as a movement, both in terms of the types of buildings we should be preserving and the audiences we must engage in order to be successful. What will be the landmarks for the next generation and who will be fighting to preserve them?

The conference which runs March 5-7, 2010, will be preceded by an Opening Night Reception on Friday, March 5th. The Sunday following the Conference will feature a series of walking tours of historic areas throughout New York City. Participants can register online.

March 5: Opening Night Reception

This year the Opening Reception will be held in the LGBT Community Center, housed in an historic 19th-century school. As with last year’s event, in addition to refreshments and good preservation-minded conversation, this festive kick-off event will feature presentations on proposed historic districts and preservation campaigns across the city.

Friday, March 5, 6:00pm, at The LGBT Community Center, 208 West 13th Street between Seventh and Greenwich Avenues. Tickets for this event are $35/person, $30 for Friends of HDC, seniors and students. Reservations required. Please call (212) 614-9107 or visit our website.

March 6: “The Next Generation” Conference Panels

This year’s Conference Panels will bring together a distinguished group of preservationists, educators, community activists and non-profit leaders from New York City’s five boroughs to present their views in a series of panel discussions: “New Landmarks: Modern, Vernacular and Cultural Sites” and “New Audiences: Identifying and Partnering with Diverse Populations” and a keynote address delivered by Fran Leadon, architect, professor, and co-author of the forthcoming AIA Guide to New York City, Fifth Edition.

Saturday, March 6, 8:30am-4:30pm, at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street between Court and Clinton Streets, Brooklyn. Full day admission is $45/person, $35/person for Friends of HDC and seniors. Fee also includes continental breakfast, box lunch, and afternoon snack. Entrance fee will be waved for students with valid university ID (meals are not included). For reservations, please call (212) 614-9107 or visit our website.

March 7: Walking Tours

The final day of HDC’s Preservation Conference features six walking tours of neighborhoods throughout New York City:

The Grand Concourse: Ain’t It Grand!

A Walk Through Norwegian Brooklyn: Lapskaus Boulevard

Chelsea and Lamartine Place: A Cultural History

Modern in Midtown: Landmarks of the Recent Past

Parkchester: A City Within a City

West End Avenue: Way Out West

Space is limited, so reserve early. Meeting times and locations will be provided upon registration.

The Row House Reborn:Architecture and Neighborhoods in NYC, 1908-1929

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The New York City Historic Districts Council is co-sponsoring a lecture on row houses at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue) on Monday, February 8 at 6:30 pm.

In the decades just before and after World War I, a group of architects, homeowners, and developers pioneered innovative and affordable housing alternatives. They converted the deteriorated and bleak row houses of old New York neighborhoods into modern and stylish dwellings.

Join Andrew S. Dolkart, author of The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City, 1908–1929, as he traces this aesthetic movement from its inception in 1908 to a wave of projects for the wealthy on the East Side to the faux artists’ studios for young professionals in Greenwich Village.


$6 tickets when you mention the Historic Districts Council!
*A two dollar surcharge applies for unreserved, walk-in participants.

To reserve your discounted ticket, please call 212.534.1672, ext. 3395 or e-mail programs@mcny.org and mention HDC.

West Park Presbyterian Church Designated Landmark

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On Tuesday, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate the West Park Presbyterian Church at 165 West 86th Street on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue as an individual New York City landmark. This move to protect this late 19th-century chapel and church came after decades of activism by concerned neighbors. Originally included in the proposal for the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, the church was left out of the 1990 district designation after opposition from church representatives. Since then, neighbors have had to stave off development proposals and demolition permits, most recently observing workers last year removing pieces of West-Park’s interior (it was reported that church was cleaning up from a burst pipe).

For more information, read Historic District Council’s statement on the building and visit Landmark West’s website.

Historic Districts Council’s Morning Coffee Talks

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Each Month, the Historic Districts Council hosts a Coffee Talk – a presentation and question and answers session with folk important to local historic preservation. The first Coffee Talk of 2010, on January 11th, will feature representatives of the New York City Department of Design and Construction. The event begins at 8:30 am, in the Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street, Manhattan.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC), is the lead agency for New York City public construction projects such as street, water and sewer reconstructions, firehouses, libraries, police precincts, courthouses and senior centers. Because the agency is responsible for such a large portfolio (valued at over $6 billion), the Historic Districts Counciil believes it is essential that communities help make sure that each project that DDC undertakes respects and responds to the specific needs of the communities where the projects are located.

Richard Zetterlund, Associate Commissioner for Infrastructure and Sergio Silveira, Assistant Commissioner for Structures will discuss their respective divisions and how neighborhood advocates can provide input on major projects. Our speakers will also showcase some of DDC’s recent successful initiatives and talk about the efforts of DDC’s Historic Preservation Office.

This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required, as space is limited. For more information about this or other Coffee Talks, contact Frampton Tolbert at (212) 614-9107 or ftolbert@hdc.org.

Photo: Brooklyn Terminal at Brooklyn Bridge c 1903.

NYC Landmarks Commission Rejects Half of a Building

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The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted 6-3 on Tuesday to designate the B. F. Goodrich Company Building (1780 Broadway) as a landmark and at the same time reject the B. F. Goodrich Company Building at 225 West 57th Street. Although the buildings face adjacent streets, they are on the same lot and were both developed in 1909 by the same architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw, for the B. F. Goodrich Company. They are Shaw’s only extant buildings in New York.

The Historic Districts Council issued the following Preservation Alert after the vote:

At today’s hearing, all nine commissioners present stated their support for the designation of 1780 Broadway, mentioning its architectural design but stressing its historic connection to Automobile Row. Six commissioners stated that 225 West 57th Street was of lesser significance because it did not have Broadway frontage and was “an accessory building” to the larger Goodrich headquarters. The other three commissioners defended the significance of the building and spoke highly of its architectural merit as well as its history of automobile-related uses.

225 West 57th Street, cureently under scaffolding and construction shroudOf particular interest was LPC Chair Robert Tierney’s statement referring to the City Council’s concerns about this designation. After the public hearing on August 11th, Council Members Daniel Garodnick, Melinda Katz, Jessica Lappin and Christine Quinn sent a joint letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission opposing the designation of 225 West 57th Street based on “its drab appearance”, that “the company never occupied the building” and that “the designation of 225 West 57th Street could fatally compromise the footprint of the proposed development on this site”. This unprecedented message reframed deliberations about the significance-based worthiness of the buildings into “the argument for preservation against the economic development rationale… [of] allowing for new development on sites where buildings stand today”. Commissioner Tierney went on to state his belief that since there was a likelihood that the City Council would overturn the designation of 225 West 57th Street, the LPC should make a priority of designating 1780 Broadway which everyone agreed should be preserved.

The buildings’ preservation had been supported by HDC, other preservation groups and the local community boards on the basis of their significance to the development of New York City as the center for the nascent American automobile industry, as well as for the importance of the buildings’ architectural design. 225 West 57th Street specifically was a very early and unusual fusion of traditional and Modern design elements, using motifs and techniques from the Chicago and Viennese Secessionist Schools. These points were supported by research in the LPC’s files.

Representatives of the owner, Extell Development, as well as the American Institute of Architects/New York Chapter testified in favor of the designation of 1780 Broadway but opposed to 225 West 57th Street, stating that the buildings were only significant historically as they related to Automobile Row. Since West 57th Street was not on Automobile Row and the building was not occupied by the B. F. Goodrich Company, it was not worthy of being preserved. Additional owner’s representatives also stated that they might pursue a hardship application if 225 West 57th Street was designated (Extell is proposing to build a 60+-story building on the block including this site and has been assembling lots and air-rights to allow for this development for some time.)

In the end, it would appear that the developers won. Thanks to their lobbying efforts the City Council leadership was apparently convinced that this landmark designation was detrimental to the City. The Council’s opposition to the designation resulted in the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s rejection of the building. This is not how it should work.

HDC is exceptionally disappointed in the LPC’s yielding to political pressure. If the City Council was going to reject the designation of a worthy building, then the Council should have been put in a position of justifying that action. By ceding the designation of 225 West 25th Street, the LPC has set a terrible example for future designations.

HDC is also extraordinarily disturbed by the Council’s actions in this instance. While it is entirely appropriate for CM Daniel Garodnick to weigh in on a designation within his district, doing so before the community board has a chance to review the project is, at best, precipitous. The joint letter from the four council members, with its not-so-veiled threat, was a direct assault on the independence of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the integrity of the Landmarks Law.

HDC has contacted these council members about our concerns over their involvement and we will be taking additional steps to make sure that the Landmarks Preservation Commission and their process remain transparent and independent. We look forward to updating you in the coming months.

Photo: 1780 Broadway, NYC

HDC Honors Thomas F. Pike With Landmarks Lion Award

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The Historic Districts Council will honor the many achievements of Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Pike with their 2009 Landmarks Lion award on October 28th, at the Players Club near his home on Gramercy Park. To learn more about the Lion ceremony, visit this site; to see one of the many things Reverend Pike is involved with currently, go to here. The following article is a preview from the upcoming issue of District Lines, the HDC’s newsletter.

Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Pike

Reverend Thomas F. Pike has helped run so many organizations devoted to preserving buildings and landscapes nationwide that when he walks around a place where he has been proactive, people stop him to say thanks. During a recent stroll through Gramercy Park, for which he currently serves as a trustee and archivist, Arlene Harrison, head of the neighborhood’s block association, came through the glossily painted black iron gates and hugged him. “We love this man, he’s very special, he’s the real, real deal,” she said. “He understands what this park means spiritually to this community.”

For four decades, Reverend Pike has served as an Episcopal rector at Manhattan churches while finding countless hours each week to volunteer as a leader at city agencies and nonprofits, including the Landmarks Preservation Commission, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, Partners for Sacred Places, Preservation League of New York State and Partnership for the Homeless. On Oct. 28, he will receive HDC’s Landmarks Lion award at the Players Club near his home on Gramercy Park.

On a balmy afternoon in the park a few weeks ago, he was asked to reflect on his influence and quietly replied, “When I look back, I just wish I’d done more.” He attributes his lifelong interest in performing good works for historic architecture partly to his childhood in progressive intellectual circles. He grew up in Hastings, New York, where his father, Frederick, managed a newspaper and was friendly with African-American scholars including City College sociologist Kenneth Clark and newspaper owner Alger Adams. In the late 1950’s, as an undergraduate at SUNY New Paltz, the future reverend at first studied painting, then switched career tracks as calls for social change swept the United States.

“The fight for civil rights was in full swing and the peace movement was in its early days,” he recalled. Soon after he received his Yale divinity degree in 1963, he was at the frontlines of these causes. “I was arrested five times: that gives you a flavor of my life,” he said. He spent overnights in jail for alleged offenses committed while protesting workplace discrimination, giving antiwar sermons and leading marches demanding emergency housing for black families left homeless by suspicious fires.

In 1971 he was hired as rector for what is now Calvary/St. George’s—the congregation owns two 1840’s churches near Gramercy Park—and until his retirement last year he conducted numerous services there daily. In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, as he patiently dealt with repairs on those structures, fellow clergy kept plaintively telling him about their own buildings’ hefty maintenance bills and how they were occasionally resorting to demolition.

“So I became more and more revved up about preserving religious buildings,” Reverend Pike said. “I began to see the relationship between preservation and social justice.” Old churches and synagogues, he added, “enable a community to tell its story honestly, tangibly, and graphically, in a way that can’t be denied. And the diversity of American religious buildings celebrates the diversity of our whole society. If we erase the buildings, we’re rewriting history.”

Serving in his numerous pro bono posts and grants-giving roles, he has persuaded other religious leaders to adapt structures for outreach projects including food kitchens, alcohol abuse treatment programs and temporary housing for the homeless. He has also advocated for the preservation of secular buildings in struggling neighborhoods, like the humble row of freed slaves’ homes in Bedford-Stuyvesant now called the Weeksville Heritage Center. “Buildings do not have to be beautiful to have powerful storytelling capacity,” the reverend said. “Preservation is not an elitist pursuit, although it’s sometimes thought of as a rich man’s sport.”

Gratitude for his organizations’ support, he added, has come from surprising sources. “I’ve been out to a Congregationalist church in Brooklyn where a young mother living across the street in an apartment building with every window broken came up to me and said, ‘Looking out every day and seeing that steeple repaired now—it gives us a sense of peace and a lot of hope.’ I’m absolutely convinced that architecture can change lives. I like to quote the philosopher Ernst Bloch, who said that architecture is an embodiment of hope. You only fix the roof of a place when you believe your community will be there for a long, long time. Every repair is a gesture of commitment to the future.”

The reverend’s retirement last year has allowed him and his wife Lys, a former director of the city’s Council on the Environment, more time to focus on their own landmark: a clapboarded 1790 farmhouse near Camden, Maine. They spend half the year there when not visiting their three children: Jean, an architect in New York; Nicholas, an assets manager in Boston; and Thomas Jr., an Army lieutenant-colonel about to be deployed on his second stint in Afghanistan.

Receiving a Lion award, Reverend Pike said, “feels comfortable, but I feel a little unworthy, too, since I know and admire so many past Lions. But I like being identified as a lion, a kind of radical preservationist. That brings together many threads of my life.”