Tag Archives: Historic Preservation

Chris Pryslopski: Preserving the Recent Past


By on

3 Comments

It may be true that our past is behind us, but some of it remains nearer than the rest. Distance provides a remove from which to appraise the value of a person, thing,or event. The lack of such distance can limit our perspective on the nearer parts, and in some instances, might destroy our heritage before we have a chance to adequately consider it.

Consider two examples of Capitol architecture. The 1899 New York State Capitol is heralded as a triumph. The virtual tour proudly states that the building took 32 years and $25 million to construct. It highlights the “grand spaces” and extravagant details throughout the building such as its carved staircases, its paneled chambers, and the exotic materials used inside and out. I have visited it myself and would recommend the tour to anyone with an interest in architecture or government. Continue reading

Preserve New York Grants Available


By on

0 Comments

Applications are now available to eligible municipalities and not-for-profit organizations to compete for funds through Preserve New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

A total of $83,674 is available for historic structure reports, historic landscape reports and cultural resource surveys. Grants are likely to range between $3,000 and $10,000 each. The application deadline is May 7, 2012.

Examples of eligible projects include: historic structure reports for cultural institutions and public buildings; historic landscape reports for municipal parks; and cultural resource surveys of downtowns and residential neighborhoods.

In 2012, the Preservation League especially encourages projects that advance the preservation of neighborhoods and downtowns that qualify for the NYS Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit; identify and protect buildings and cultural landscapes at risk due to technological, transportation and energy developments; and continue the use of historic public buildings for cultural, interpretive and artistic purpose.

For Preserve New York Grant Program guidelines, visit the League’s website at www.preservenys.org. Prospective applicants should contact the Preservation League to discuss their projects and to request an application form.

The Preservation League of New York State is a private, not-for-profit organization that works to protect and enhance the Empire State’s historic buildings, landscapes and neighborhoods. The Preserve New York Grant Program is made possible through funding from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Organizations and municipalities receiving grant awards in 2011 were: Albany County: Delaware Avenue Neighborhood Association; Cattaraugus County: Randolph Area Community Development Corporation; Chautauqua County: Fenton History Center; Chemung County: Near Westside Neighborhood Association, Inc.; Erie County (2): Preservation Buffalo Niagara; Hamlin Park Community and Taxpayers Association, Inc.; Essex County: Town of Crown Point; Kings County: Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG); Monroe County: The South Wedge Planning Committee, Inc.; Montgomery County (2): City of Amsterdam; Village of Fort Plain; Sullivan County: Roscoe-Rockland Chamber of Commerce; Tompkins County: City of Ithaca Planning & Development Department; Wayne County: Cracker Box Palace, Inc.; Wyoming County: Warsaw Historical Society.

Downton Abbey and Hudson Valley Historic Houses


By on

3 Comments

Many people are fascinated by the serial British drama “Downton Abbey”, currently airing on PBS. The Abbey is a fictional mansion in Yorkshire, the home of a fictional family, the Granthams, and their servant staff, during the early 20th century. It is an entertaining tale of love, intrigue, loyalty, betrayal, triumph, and tragedy! And it has generated, or at least been accompanied by, new books on the real history of the time, including Jessica Fellows, The World of Downton Abbey and the Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey. Continue reading

Preserving Civil War Graves in New York State


By on

4 Comments

Last year, the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. This momentous occasion, in which over 600,000 individuals lost their lives, profoundly affected New York State as well as the still young nation. New York State not only contributed the most of the northern states, but also paid dearly with the loss of over 50,000 soldiers according to the New York State Military Museum. Continue reading

The Grinnell at 100: Celebrating Community, History


By on

0 Comments

In 2010 and 2011, residents of the Grinnell, a land-marked cooperative apartment house at 800 Riverside Drive in Manhattan’s Audubon Park Historic District, celebrated their building’s centennial with a year of activities including the launch of a centennial website, logo and photography competitions, and a birthday celebration for the neighborhood. Grinnell residents have now produced a book commemorating that centennial year, The Grinnell at 100: Celebrating Community, History.

Through a historical essay, numerous personal histories, biographical sketches, and 150 photographs and illustrations, the 94-page, full-color book traces a half-acre triangular block in northern New York City from primordial forest to a 21st-century co-operative apartment house.

Constructed between June 10, 1910 and July 29, 1911, the Grinnell sits on a triangular plot of land in Washington Heights where the family of George Blake Grinnell once pastured a few cows when the surrounding area was known as Audubon Park. “The Park,” a bucolic suburb that grew out of John James Audubon’s farm Minnie’s Land, remained suburban into the 20th Century, but became prime property for real estate development when the subway opened at 157th Street in November 1904. Six years later, when the extended Riverside Drive opened, its path crossing Audubon Park, the Grinnell heirs, led by eldest son George Bird Grinnell, sold their property. Developers quickly snapped it up and between 1909 and 1911 erected a group of Beaux Arts apartment houses. Noting the effects of rapid transit, newspaper commentators dubbed the two-year period Audubon Park’s “rapid transformation.”

Edited by Matthew Spady and designed by Jacqueline Thaw, featuring photographs by Charles Baum and Mo Ström, and contributions from more than 30 Grinnell residents, The Grinnell at 100 is a must-have edition for anyone with an interest in the history of New York City, Washington Heights, or the Audubon Park Historic District – and of course the book will interest Grinnell residents, friends, and admirers, past and present.

The Grinnell at 100: Celebrating Community, History, and an Architectural Gem, available at Lulu.com. For information about discounts on purchases of multiple copies, contact info@TheGrinnellat100.com.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.

RC Oster Historic Architecture Exhibit Opening


By on

0 Comments

An opening reception will be held for “Drawing on our Past: Ink Darwings of New York State’s Historic Architecture,” an exhibition of drawings by David ‘RC’ Oster at View, formerly the Old Forge Arts Center, tomorrow, Saturday, February 4 from 5 ­to 7 pm. His works will be displayed from February 4 ­ March 3 concurrently with “Adirondack View Finders” a photography exhibition that showcases top Adirondack Photographers including Nathan Farb, Nancie Battaglia, Mark Bowie, and Carl Heilman.

RC Oster is a self-taught artist who specializes in free-hand ink drawings of regional landmarks and Adirondack scenes. He is particularly well known for his drawings of historic buildings. RC sees these landmarks as “proud reminders of where we as a society have been.” He carefully captures fine details of these buildings from sharp angles that show off the architecture of the building. He seeks to bring further awareness to these buildings
through capturing their fine details.

Stone sculpture by Matt Horner will be on display with both the photography and the ink drawings. Exhibition admission is $10/$5 members and groups of 6+/Children under 12
free. View is a multi-arts center located at 3273 State Rt. 28 in Old Forge, NY. To learn more about View programming visit www.ViewArts.org or call 315-369-6411.

Researching the History of Buildings in NYC Program


By on

1 Comment

This February, The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) offers New Yorkers with either a budding or an abiding interest in architectural history an opportunity to join the more than 500 architects, engineers, building owners, preservationists, lawyers, landmarks commissioners – and one New York City detective – who have taken the popular four-week MAS seminar Researching the History of Buildings in New York over the last two decades.

For the 20th year in a row, architectural historian and former NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission official Anthony Robins explains how to dig up the dirt on New York City buildings, their architects and their original owners. Participants will learn how to:

* Locate and understand NYC building records
* Track down client information through deeds and obituaries
* Suss out architectural info via periodicals and professional records
* Use historical archives to unearth photographs, maps and tax records

Anthony Robins is an architectural historian who has lectured for museums, universities and private groups around the world. Formerly deputy director of research and director of survey for The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, he is the author of Classics of American Architecture: The World Trade Center (Pineapple Press, 1987; new edition, 2011) and Subway Style: 100 Years of Architecture & Design in the New York City Subway (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004), for which he won the New York City Book Award, as well as articles for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Gourmet, Architectural Record and Metropolis. He composed the site markers for Heritage Trails New York (New York’s answer to Boston’s Liberty Trail) and is a founding member of the Art Deco Society of New York as well as the creator of its walking tour program. In 1997 Robins received a Rome Prize fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. He holds an M.A. in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Researching the History of Buildings in New York

Dates: Wed, Feb 1, 8, 15 + 20; 5:45-7:30 p.m. + weekday field trip (date TBA)

Location: Municipal Art Society, 111 W. 57th St (b/w 6th + 7th Aves), 16th Fl

Cost: $300 ($250 for MAS members and F/T students w/ valid ID). NOTE: Lectures and field trip cannot be purchased individually.
Continuing Ed Credits: 8.0 LU CES
Registration: Register Here
Information: (212) 935-3960, ext. 1234

Wednesday, February 1, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

The Building, Part I

An introduction to the records of the Department of Buildings: (1) new buildings and alteration applications, docket books, index cards, block and lot maps; (2) the mysteries of the plan desk; and (3) and the computerized Building Information System (BIS).

Wednesday, February 8, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

The Building, Part II: the Client

How to weave your way through deeds, directories, obituaries and Who’s Who and how to navigate ProQuest and other online resources.

Wednesday, February 15, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

The Architect

Using standard texts, guidebooks, periodicals, the Avery Index, and Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records publications.

Wednesday, February 22, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

Miscellaneous Sources

Use of photograph collections, maps, New York City archives, libraries and historical society. Special attention to early 19th-century Manhattan real-estate tax records.

Date TBA

Weekday Morning Field Trip

Visit the New York County Register’s Office (conveyance records), the Municipal Archives (Building Department and tax records), the Municipal Reference Library and the Manhattan Department of Buildings.

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), founded in 1893, is a non-profit membership organization committed to making New York a more livable city through education, dialogue and advocacy for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation. For more information visit MAS.org.

NYC Historic Districts Council Names ‘Six to Celebrate’


By on

2 Comments

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.

Westport’s Historic Depot Theatre Looks to 2012


By on

0 Comments

The historic Depot Theatre in Westport on Lake Champlain will celebrate its 33rd year with a new managing director, a new volunteer guild and four shows for the 2012 season. The popular professional theatre company was founded in 1979 by Carol Buchanan, former President of the Westport Historical Society, which maintained stewardship over the historic Westport train station.

The Historical Society saw the potential for cultural activity in the partially renovated D & H Railroad station, and turned first to a Wednesday Night Bingo game to reach the goal. In 1985, the Depot Theatre stepped out from under the Historical Society’s umbrella to become its own separate not-for-profit entity (the theatre company turned professional in 1988 under an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. In 2006, the Depot Theatre also became a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for professional, non-profit theaters.

Since 1979, the Depot Theatre has produced over 170 plays in its handicap accessible, 136 seat performance space (the former D&H freight room, now fully air conditioned.) In 1995, the Depot Theatre was recognized with a Park Heritage Award from the Adirondack Council and in 2000 with an Adirondack Architectural Heritage Award which recognized major renovation and restoration work to the historical building.

Though Delaware and Hudson is no longer in operation, AMTRAK continues to service rail passengers on the Adirondack Line between NYC and Montreal. The Westport stop is a gateway to the Adirondack Park, and the train station and the Theatre have developed a unique partnership to keep this historical space maintained – the Depot Theatre serves as steward of the historical site.

The Depot has launched a national search to replace outgoing managing director Chris Casquilho who is moving to Ogden, Utah with his family to work for Weber State University.

The Board of Trustees has said it’s approaching this leadership transition as an opportunity to realign operations to focus on the Depot’s long range plan. “We’re looking for an individual who can help grow the operating budget in order to nurture our commitment to exploring new work alongside the canon of American Theatre,” explained Artistic Director Shami McCormick, whose involvement spans the organization’s history. The annual operating budget recently ranges between $300,000 and $350,000, but McCormick is says there is room and demand for growth.

“There’s something quite magical about being behind the scenes in a live theatre atmosphere,” said Kim Rielly, board trustee. “And in 2012, we plan to ramp up our Volunteer Guild, with new opportunities for community members to take a real hands-on role in the operation of our hometown Theatre, and earn some great perks to go along with it.”

The 2012 season will feature four main stage shows including a Country/Blues Love Story, a fast-paced comedy, a 1950‘s musical with classic favorites, a funny story of five full-figured women racing to meet nearly impossible production deadlines, plus a full season’s worth of mid-week and special events.

For more information, season subscriptions, tickets and a complete schedule, contact the Box Office at 518.962.4449 or visit depottheatre.org.

Fort Ticonderoga to Assess Repair Options


By on

0 Comments

A grant for $20,320 was recently awarded to the Fort Ticonderoga Association, a private not-for-profit organization, as part of the recent announcement by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The grant to Fort Ticonderoga, through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, will fund a structural condition evaluation for Fort Ticonderoga in 2012 that will be used to make long-range decisions regarding the fort and its walls. This evaluation will establish the structural priorities for Fort Ticonderoga and identify options for repair.

The grant project is part of a larger Fort Ticonderoga planning initiative being prepared by PGAV Destinations. Phase 1 of this plan is expected to be complete in early 2012.

Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga Executive Director, said “a clear analysis of the structural needs of the Fort and its walls is one of our highest priorities at this time. The state grant allows for us to include this evaluation as we plan for a vibrant future for one of America’s greatest treasures. It will help us best preserve the Fort while reaching our greatest potential as a major destination in New York.”

The stabilization and preservation of Fort Ticonderoga’s walls has been an ongoing project since it was built by the French in 1755. In particular, water infiltration and the winter freeze thaw cycle have caused damage to the walls. In recent years, sections of the walls have been successfully repaired using modern masonry and drainage techniques.

Photo: Deteriorated walls at Fort Ticonderoga (Courtesy John Warren).

Thomas Cole Celebrates 10 Years, Makes Plans


By on

0 Comments

Ten years ago the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opened its doors with no endowment, no government operating funds, and no paid staff. Thanks to members, volunteers, donors, scholars, trustees, staff, interns, advisors and fans the birthplace of the Hudson River School is still inspiring us today.

Over the next ten years Historic Site staff hope to see Thomas Cole’s “New Studio” rebuilt in the exact spot where it stood for 128 years – a building that he himself designed and the interior rooms of the 1815 “Main House” restored.

On Sundays at 2 pm once per month Thomas Cole State Historic Site offers a popular Sunday Salon series of lectures. Here are the first two:

January 15
The Hunt for Thomas Cole’s Lost, Last, Unfinished Series
In the late 1980s, a legendary New York art dealer acquired an oil study for one of five paintings in Cole’s monumental series, The Cross and the World. Learning that the series – still on Cole’s easel at the time of his death – had vanished from sight in the 1870s, the dealer sent Christine I. Oaklander out to hunt them down. Dr. Oaklander will discuss the history and iconography of Cole’s last, lost series and give us a “behind the scenes” glimpse of her quest.

February 12
Thomas Cole in Love
In 1825, young Thomas Cole stepped out of the Catskills autumn with a body of work so exceptional that it kicked America’s drowsy cultural ambitions into a new state of excitement. Join Kevin Sharp, Director of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, as he explores Cole’s use of Romantic imagery from English poets such as Byron and Coleridge to create dramatic works that stood in stark contrast to the gentle landscape images that had come before.

Shirley Dunn: Early Dutch House Rediscovered


By on

0 Comments

What follows is a guest essay by Shirley Dunn, a historian of Rensselaerwijck and the Mohican.

A surprise “Dutch” house dating to about 1700 (or just before), located on Route 9J near the Teller Crossing, is for sale. The bricks have been covered with siding and the roof slope has been changed so you would not know it is that old. The original walls, cellar fireplace support, and beams in the cellar, as well as vlechtingen at roofline in the attic, remain in place. All bricks used to build the house were of the thin pre -1703 size.

The house appears on mid-1700 maps and belonged to the farm called “Cost Verlooren” leased by the Abraham Van Deusen family in the late 1600s and passed down through daughter Jannetje into the Witbeck family. Although it is probably the oldest house in the East Greenbush area, excepting for Staats house, it was hidden by early 20th century siding and missed by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the 1930s.

In the early 1900s or before, the slope of the roof of this old Dutch-style house on the river road below the present City of Rensselaer was raised so a second floor could be developed. The newly built second floor portion was covered with white siding on the outside and the bricks on the south gable and the first floor were painted white. This is apparently why the house was bypassed by the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s. Since then, the brick house was completely covered with modern siding late in the 20th century, to preserve the brick.

In the 17th century, the managers of Rensselaerswyck, which was a colony begun by Kiliaen Van Rensselaer, leased out farms along the river below the present City of Rensselaer. A valuable farm near the present-day Hayes Road intersection was leased to Teunis Dirckse Van Vechten. His son, Gerrit Teunis Van Vechten, sold the lease to Claes Van Petten. In 1696, the Claes Van Petten-Teunis Dirckse farm was obtained by speculators Samuel Staats, Barent Rynders, and Joachim Staats. In May, 1699, these men sold the farm lease back to Gerrit Teunis Van Vechten and Jonas Douw, the brother-in-law of Gerrit.

North of the Van Vechten property, another farm had been established in 1639. In 1640 its combination barn-with-residence attached burned down. Later leased by Cornelis Van Nes, who had little success, the farm earned the nickname Kost Verloren, or “Money Thrown Away.” (For details, see Dunn, “Settlement Patterns in Rensselaerswijck,” de Halve Maen Magazine (Holland Society, Lxvii, Fall 1994).

Despite this history, in 1687, a lease for this Kost Verloren farm was obtained by Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen, a carpenter. Van Deusen had been working in the area as a farmer on rented land which was no longer available at Fort Crailo (Correspondence MVR 181-182). In the nineteenth century, part of the Kost Verloren farm was owned by the Teller family. On this latter site, immediately beside a railroad crossing still known as Teller’s Crossing, a gambrel-roofed brick house survived until the 1920s. It was known as the Teller Farmhouse. The gambrel-roofed houses of our area were generally built in the decades after the late 1750s, after the French War wound down. The farmhouse, of which a photograph exists, was probably built in the 1760s. This date is based on a map of the 1750s, which showed only one house in the area. (For photo, see Reynolds, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley before 1776 (1928) pages 84-85, photo 143). The gambrel-roofed Teller farmhouse therefore was not the earliest house on the Kost Verloren farm. Maps indicate it appeared between 1757 and 1767.

An earlier existing house on this farm was mentioned in the renewed lease of 1709 given to Melgert Abrahamse Van Vechten. According to Reynolds, in Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley, page 84, Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen, (First Settlers p. 124) conveyed part of his farm to his daughter, Widow Jannetje Van Deusen Witbeck in 1733. As the stated north boundary line of the land of Johannes Van Vechten, a son of Gerrit Teunis Van Vechten, adjoined Jannetje Van Deusen’s land, we know that Jannetje’s portion was the south part of the Kost Verloren farm. She was his daughter, although not listed in Pearson’s First Settlers. Jannetje was the widow of Thomas Janse Witbeck who had been buried two years earlier on Papscanee Island in 1731.

Jannetje Van Deusen had married Thomas Janse Witbeck at the house of her brother, Rutger Van Deusen, in 1702. Since Rutger Van Deusen was a son of Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen, we know that Jannetje was his sister.. Rutger had married Wyntje Harmense in 1692 (Pearson, First Settlers of Albany Co.) Rutger is identified as a linen weaver. Can I speculate? Possibly Widow Jannetje agreed to take care of her father in his declining years, in exchange for title to the land she already lived on. Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen was buried on Papscanee Island in 1742.

A map of 1757 shows one house in the area of Kost Verloren. This house is most likely today’s surviving Hurley house obliquely opposite the former Teller Crossing and Teller Farmhouse (now gone). According to evidence remaining in the Hurley house attic and cellar, it was a one-and-a half story steep-roofed Van Rensselaer-style tenant house, possibly built at the time of Jannetje’s 1702 marriage. Alternately, this could be her father’s house from before 1700, or an unidentified early house on Kost Verloren. It is unlikely it is her brother, Rutger’s house, since he may have lived in Albany (1702 list).

Jannetje Van Deusen Witbeck’s house and farm passed to an Abraham Witbeck, probably her son, who passed it to his daughter, Jannetje, married to James Cole. He is most likely the Abraham Witbeck who appears at number 45 on the 1767 Bleeker map of house sites. A Melgert Abramse Witbeck is listed on the 1767 map at number 44. He appears to be a son of Lucas Janse Witbeck who in 1692 married Catrina, another daughter of Melgert Abrahamse Van Deusen. (Pearson, First Settlers, page 153). By the time of the 1767 map, apparently his gambrel-roofed house known as the Teller farmhouse had been erected, probably number 44 on the map. The two houses were not far apart on Kost Verloren.

According to Reynolds’ research, Jannetje Witbeck’s farm later belonged to Coles, Nortons and Tellers (Dutch Houses, page 84). However, her research related to the gambrel–roofed Teller Farmhouse of the 1760s, which she thought was an older house, possibly Jannetje’s. Thus, this ownership research might apply only until the two properties were separated.

Deeds to the property could be checked at Troy. Earliest deeds might be at the Albany County Hall of Records. In the 20th century, the still standing older house on Kost Verloren belonged to the Hurley family beginning about 1950.

In a landscaped setting, the Hurley house hides its age under white siding and a changed roofline. It has a one-story frame rear kitchen addition. The old interior has been modernized. Stairs lead to the added second floor. However, the house’s age quickly appears. A wall of early bricks lines the steps to the cellar (bricks about 7.5 inches long x 1 ½ high by 3 ½ to 4 across, in various shades of red). Hewn chamfered beams cross the cellar in the Dutch style from wall to wall. The present owner has supported the old beams with jack posts.

The cellar holds proof the house had jambless fireplaces. At the south end of the cellar is a well-preserved, 89 inch long brick arch which once had trimmers at each end. The arch is constructed of the same thin bricks noted above, the arch resting on a row of flat stones protruding a few inches from the cellar wall. The arch extends 33 inches into the cellar to the first beam. This arch once supported the hearth which was above on the first floor. At the north end of the cellar, one projecting support stone remains in the cellar wall, enough to indicate there once was a similar arch there. The other support stones apparently were broken or removed from the north cellar wall to make room for a modern heating unit. An added outside entrance into to the cellar, located beside the south arch, is trimmed with larger bricks from a later date. That there was an earlier rear wing before the present kitchen wing is suggested by the foundation.

The outline of the former tapering chimney (above the former first floor jambless fireplace and the existing cellar arch) is visible on the south gable wall of the attic. A rebuilt chimney (made of thin old bricks) rises to the ridge. The original gable end roof framing, showing the steep slope of the former roof, is visible in this south end of the attic. Along the top of the former gable end wall are vlechtingen (inverted brick triangles) in the Dutch style. They once were part of a standing gable which projected above the roof. The inside of the visible original south gable wall is laid in the thin, early bricks, (now covered on the outside), which remain within the old framing. Above the old wall, 20th century brick laid to fill space under the new roofline can be seen in the gable. A fire in the north gable, which gable has been rebuilt, has removed early attic evidence at that end.

The impression is that this two-room house when built was constructed with early small bricks and had jambless fireplaces at each end. The bricks suggest the house very likely dates to c.1700, give or take a few years. If so, this Van Deusen-Hurley house is a remarkable previously unrecognized survivor of the late seventeenth century or very early eighteenth century.

The existing house with large lot is in good shape is for sale, the asking price $229,900. Those interested in purchasing the home should contact Carla Bakerian of Heartland Properties at (518) 479-5434.

Photos courtesy Shirley Dunn: Above, the Hurley-Van Deusen house in the 1950s (note the beam anchors in the gable); Middle, the hearth support, a brick arch under the original first floor hearth of a jambless fireplace, remains in the south end of the cellar. Note the small size of the early bricks, which are similar to those used throughout the house. Below, the old, small bricks of the Hurley-Van Deusen House at present are covered with siding to protect them. Note the beam anchors, now used for decoration.

Utica Landmarks Society Honors Preservationists


By on

0 Comments

The Landmarks Society of Greater Utica has honored the recipients of its 2011 Awards of Merit at the society’s annual meeting November 17. A Lifetime Achievement/Distinguished Service Award was presented to Rand Carter, Professor of the History of Art, Hamilton College, for nearly two decades of dedication to the Landmarks Society and the area community in the preservation of historic properties.

The additional honorees are:

David and Regina Bonacci, 251-253 Bleecker St. In 2009, the Bonacci’s purchased a building which most recently contained Gerald’s Men Shop and which dates back to the mid 1800s. It had been on the “endangered buildings” list and was scheduled for demolition for parking in 2007. After extensive renovation, the building now serves as the Bonacci’s loft-style residence, and houses Bonacci Architects headquarters.

St. Joseph’s/St. Patrick’s Church, 702 Columbia St. Constructed in 1873 by German parishioners, the church merged with St. Patrick’s Church in 1968. The parish recently completed a privately funded, $2 million interior and exterior renovation which reflects its commitment to excellence and authenticity in the restoration of sacred spaces and historic buildings.

Manuel and Emmita Avila, l001 Miller St. The Avila’s purchased this stately Queen Anne Colonial Revival house which was on the city’s most endangered buildings list, and have undertaken significant restoration efforts to save it from further deterioration.

Tracy Mills, the The New Uptown Theatre, 2014 Genesee St. Mills purchased Utica’s only full-time movie theater in Utica in 2007. She has since completed the first phases of restoration to maintain the theater’s character-defining features, with plans for upcoming work on the marquee and stage. The theatre has become an anchor destination for the Uptown Entertainment District.

Orin and Kim Domenico, Domenico’s Café & The Other Side, 2011 Genesee St. The Domenico family has successfully partnered with their neighbors to create a vibrant and thriving coffee shop and venue for a host of community programs in the Uptown Entertainment District.

Stuart Bannatyne and Vincent Ficchi, Pier’s & Blake, 330 Main St. In 2007, Stuart Bannatyne purchased the Doyle Hardware building, constructed in 1881. hrough a substantial renovation program, the building has been returned to its original character. Thanks to Bannatyne and his business partner Vincent Ficchi, the building is now home of Pier’s & Blake, a cosmopolitan urban pub and gourmet steak house.

Photo: Rand Carter (right) receives the Distinguished Service/Lifetime Achievement Award from the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica President Michael Bosak. Photo provided.

NYC Landmarks of Labor Films, Lectures, Discussions


By on

0 Comments

The Historic Districts Council has announced a series of Films, lectures and discussions on NYC’s sites Associated with the Labor Movement. The series of programs will explore New York City’s 19th and 20th century buildings where laborers and organizers lived, worked, and staged notable events related to the labor movement. Participants will learn about the history and future of New York’s labor buildings – including homes, factories, and public squares – and discover the preservation efforts currently underway to save some of these spaces.

Tickets for the entire series are available for $55/$35 for Friends, seniors & students. Advance reservations are required. Tickets can be ordered by visiting or contacting www.hdc.org, 212-614-9107 or hdc@hdc.org.

Remembering the Spatial History of Labor: Where Are Our Landmarks?
Wednesday, November 2, 6:30pm, Seafarers and International House, 123 East 15th Street, 2nd Floor, Manhattan

Fee: $15 for general public/$10 for Friends, seniors & students

This panel will examine the built environment of the labor movement, discussing how and why to preserve significant buildings and sites associated with labor history. Panelists will delve into both cultural and social history such as waterfront laborers and the labor movement among different immigrant groups. Speakers include historians Joyce Mendelsohn and Richard A. Greenwald; and novelist and essayist Peter Quinn, chronicler of Irish-America.

Resistance in Film: Screening of On the Waterfront with discussion

Tuesday, November 8, 6:30pm, Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, Manhattan

Fee: $15 for general public/$10 for Friends, seniors & students

The industrial history of New York City dominated the city’s commerce for more than three centuries. Elia Kazan’s acclaimed film, On the Waterfront, depicts midcentury working conditions along the mob-controlled piers of the Hudson River. The film is based on a 24-part Pulitzer prize-winning series in the New York Sun exposing corruption and racketeering characterizing operations on the water. Noted architectural historian Francis Morrone will speak after the film about its significance in New York City history and culture.

Greenwich Village: Labor History in Bohemia Walking Tour

Sunday, November 13, 10:30am, the exact location for the tour will be announced upon registration.Tour lasts approximately two hours.

Fee: $35 for general public/$25 for Friends, seniors & students
Greenwich Village has a long and distinguished involvement in American Labor History. This walking tour will address the 10,000 marchers in the first Labor Day Parade (1882), the Socialist-led Rand School of Social Science, the founding site of the ILGWU, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the Uprising of 20,000, the Catholic Worker, Cooper Union, and sites associated with Emma Goldman, John Reed, Margaret Sanger, Clara Lemlich, and Samuel Gompers. Come learn from Justin Ferate, one of New York City’s foremost tour guides, about these significant sites.

Landmarks of Labor is sponsored in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts. HDC also wishes to thank New York City Council Members Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez for their support of this series.

New Plaque Honors Edith Wharton


By on

0 Comments

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.

Cayuga Museum Names Carriage House Theater


By on

0 Comments

The Cayuga Museum has announced the name of the carriage house theater currently undergoing restoration. When the theater re-opens in Spring 2012, it will be named Theater Mack in honor of the Maciulewicz family and their business, Mack Studios.

The Cayuga Museum has enjoyed a long association with Mack Studios. Casimir or Chuck Maciulewicz, founder of Mack Studios, was a long-time supporter and President of the Cayuga Museum Board of Trustees. Peter Maciulewicz, present owner and CEO of Mack Studios, has served on the Museum Board of Trustees for 12 years, and is currently President.

Mack Studios, now an internationally famed design company, has long donated all of the exhibit furniture and display work at the Cayuga Museum. Peter and Carol Maciulewicz have been the largest private donors to the carriage house restoration project. Since the Museum Board of Trustees decided to save the building in the 1990’s, the Museum has spent more close to $400,000 on rehabilitating the carriage house.

The carriage house, known for many years as the Cayuga Museum Annex, was a vital part of the cultural life of Auburn for decades. Installed through a collaboration between the Museum and the Auburn Community Players in 1941, the carriage house stage was home to plays, musicals, dance recitals, and more for more than 30 years. The company that is today the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse started in the carriage house in the 1960’s. The Cayuga Museum believes that the restored carriage house, Theater Mack, will once again become a vibrant community asset in Auburn.

“Carol and I are pleased to be able to help bring this project to fruition,” said Peter Mack. “We can remember coming to the carriage house for shows when we were kids. We are committed to seeing it brought back to life.”

Drivers on Washington Street will have noticed the vibrant exterior paint job that let passers-by know that something exciting was happening at the carriage house. The first phase of this renovation project, the restoration of the 1850 carriage doors, replacement of all 28 windows, and new stairways and exits was completed in 2010.

The Cayuga Museum will use Theater Mack for its own programming — lectures, slideshows, special events and more. The annual Theodore Case Film Festival, which has been held at both Cayuga Community College and the Auburn Public Theater, will come home to the Case property. And the Museum will rent Theater Mack to other organizations, creating revenue to support Museum operations. Theater Mack is one of the venues for the new Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival set to begin in Spring 2012.

Historic Districts Council to Honor ‘Landmark Lion’


By on

0 Comments

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.

Sponsors Sought for Bear Mountain Inn Reopening


By on

0 Comments

When first opened in 1915, The American Architect declared the Bear Mountain Inn to be one of the “finest examples of rustic Adirondack architecture in America.” Commission President George W. Perkins Sr. described the building as ‘a rugged heap of boulders and huge chestnut logs assembled at the base of Bear Mountain by the hand of man and yet following lines of such natural proportions as to resemble the eternal hills themselves.’



In the last few years, the historic Bear Mountain Inn underwent extensive renovations to restore its original rustic splendor. To help raise additional funds to complete the rehabilitation of the Inn and promote the grand reopening celebration on Friday, November 11, 2011, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and its non profit partner, the Palisades Parks Conservancy invite you to promote your business at this long anticipated event. They expect leaders in environmental protection, philanthropy, government, commerce, education, law, and medicine to attend.

They ask you to join our list of Corporate Sponsors, which you can do by purchasing a table, tickets, or advertising in the dinner journal. All proceeds support the ongoing preservation and restoration of the Palisades Park’s treasures, trails, recreational facilities, open spaces, group camps for children, educational exhibits, and historic sites that benefit the people of New York and New Jersey.

As a corporate sponsor, your business name will be published in the Bear Mountain Inn Reopening Celebration dinner program that is distributed to 450 guests. In addition, your support will be identified in all event related email advertising (distributed to 7000 individuals and media outlets), and the bi-annual print newsletter (distributed to 5000 recipients) throughout 2012. If your sponsorship order is placed prior to September 15, 2011, your name will also be listed on the event invitation as a member of the benefit committee that is mailed to 5000 individuals and emailed to over 7000 individuals and media outlets in the tri-state area. The Palisades Parks Conservancy will publicly acknowledge your tax exempt support.

For information about the event, please call (845) 786-2701 x239 or email info@palisadesparksconservancy.org

Photo: Bear Mountain Inn about 1920.

Enhancing Main St: Making Upper Floors Work Again


By on

0 Comments

Enhancing Main Street: Making Upper Floors Work Again is a free workshop that will be presented by the Preservation League of New York State on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm at the Saranac Laboratory, 89 Church Street, Saranac Lake, NY.

This program will provide immediately useful information for property owners, developers, and preservation professionals including historic site managers, architects, consultants and accountants dealing with preservation project financing.



This workshop is in very high demand across New York State and this is the only time it is being offered in the North Country in 2011. While the workshop is free, seating is limited, and participants must register by Friday, September 16, 2011 for the 9/20 program.

The workshop’s featured presenters will include:

* Historic Preservation Program Analyst William Krattinger from the NYS Historic Preservation Office, who will discuss the advantages of Historic District designation;

* Joe Fama, architect and Executive Director of the Troy Architectural Program in Troy, who will explain how New York’s building codes and preservation can work together;

* Karl Gustafson of NYS Homes and Community Renewal, who will provide information on the New York State Main Street Program; and

* Gary Beasley, Executive Director of Neighbors of Watertown, who will discuss making the best use of upper floors.

Enhancing Main Street: Making Upper Floors Work Again is presented by the Preservation League of New York State and sponsored by Historic Saranac Lake; Adirondack Architectural Heritage; Empire State Development Corp., NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation; and NYS Homes and Community Renewal.

Adirondack Fire Tower Tour and Discussion


By on

0 Comments

The Adirondack History Center Museum / Essex County Historical Society will present an Adirondack fire tower tour and discussion with David Thomas-Train on Sunday, August 28th.

There had once been 57 fire towers in the Adirondacks (public and private). In the 1970s and 1980s the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed more than 40. In 1990, when the DEC closed the last of the Adirondack fire towers – Bald (Rondaxe), Blue, Hadley, and St. Regis mountains – just 26 remained standing. During the 1990s historic preservationists, local community boosters, and other began organizing to save their local fire towers. Although the Whiteface mountain tower was moved to the Adirondack Museum in 1974, the Blue Mountain tower was the first of the abandoned towers to be restored in 1994.



Participants can sign up for any portion of the day: the hike, the Museum fire tower climb, the lecture, or all activities.

9 am— 3 pm: Meet at the Museum on Sunday, August 28th at 9 am for an orientation prior to a climb up Poke-O-Moonshine to explore the fire tower with naturalist David Thomas-Train. Space is limited for the hike and reservations are required. Hikers need to be at least 15 years old and in shape for a sustained, steep hike.

3 pm: Climb the Museum’s fire tower

3:30 pm: An open discussion with naturalist David Thomas-Train about fire towers in the Adirondacks.

The cost is $15 for the entire day; and $5 just for the open discussion. To make your reservations, contact the museum by calling (518) 873-6466 or via email at: echs@adkhistorycenter.org.