Excellence in Preservation Awards Announced

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The Preservation League of New York State has selected the interior restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany to receive an award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.

The League’s statewide awards program honors notable achievements in retaining, promoting and reusing New York State’s irreplaceable architectural heritage.

“As the lengthy exterior restoration project continues on this Patrick Keely-designed Cathedral, the Awards Jury felt that it was fitting to recognize the completion of the interior restoration effort,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. “After a century and a half of continuous use, the ornate interior has been returned to its former glory.”

Contributing to the success of this project were Reverend William H. Pape, Rector, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; Elizabeth Simcoe, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany; Laurence F. Wilson, Lynn Webster, Robert N. Pierpont and Katherine Onufer, Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects; Richard Zandri, Geoff Miles, and Ed Kaczynski, Zandri Construction Corporation, A. Curtis Wilsey, P.E., Quantum Engineering Co. PC; Dennis Fleischer, Ph.D., MuSonics; Naomi Miller, FIESNA, FIALD, LC, Naomi Miller Lighting Design; and Jack C. Healy, P.E., Ryan-Biggs Associates, PC.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, completed in 1852, is an excellent example of Gothic Revival architecture. The building’s grand interior features a ribbed vaulted ceiling with ornate cast plaster bosses and robust clustered columns creating a series of archways throughout the space. Last painted in 1946, the interior was a monochrome brown. Close inspection revealed that much of the plasterwork was in need of repair, and water-damaged walls, ceilings, and cracked and gouged moldings were visible throughout the structure. The interior restoration is part of a decades-long effort to restore and rejuvenate the Cathedral to ensure that it continues to serve as a landmark of architectural excellence for the city of Albany.

According to William H. Pape, Rector of the Cathedral, “The restoration brings to life many of the architectural details that were hidden by the last painting of the interior more than 60 years ago. The color palette was painstakingly researched, and is based on the completed interior of 1892. The historic terra-cotta colored faux-stone scheme is frequently perceived by visitors as real stone. The base color and hand-applied glazing is warm, welcoming and maintains a sense of awe. “

The award will be presented at the Preservation League’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony in New York City at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 12th at the historic New York Yacht Club, 37 West 44th Street.

The complete list of award winners is: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Interior, Albany County; The Franklin Building, Jefferson County; The Knox Building, the New York Public Library Exterior, and Pierpont Morgan’s 1906 Library Interior, all in New York County; 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, Onondaga County; and Montour House, Schuyler County. Uncovering the Underground Railroad, Abolitionism and African American Life in Wayne County, New York: 1820-1880 by Judith Wellman and Marjory Allen Perez will be honored as an outstanding publication. CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity in Syracuse will be honored for organizational excellence. Howard Kirschenbaum will be honored for individual excellence for his contribution to historic preservation in the Adirondack Park.

“In New York State, the preservation and reuse of our historic buildings is fundamental to the economic revitalization of our cities, towns, and villages. The League’s annual Awards program allows us to share preservation success stories that may one day serve as inspiration to others,” said DiLorenzo. “Each year, we are impressed by the number and variety of laudable nominations, and this year was no exception. We are delighted to present this award for the interior restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and to give the effort the statewide recognition it deserves.”

The Preservation League’s Excellence in Historic Preservation awards program is funded by a generous grant from the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation of Miami, Florida.

Photo: Interior of Albany’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, courtesy MCWB Architects.

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