The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) have announced that seven distinctive historic preservation projects received 2014 New York State Historic Preservation Awards.
Established in 1980, the state preservation awards are given by State Parks each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic and cultural resources. The awards were presented at a ceremony held at the award-winning Academy Lofts in Albany, an abandoned school that has been transformed into a vibrant living and work space for artists as well as a community arts center and business incubator for creative enterprises. This year’s award recipients include:
Academy Lofts, 56 Second Street, Albany
The Albany Housing Authority in partnership with Albany Barn, a local arts organization, rescued and rehabilitated the former St. Joseph’s Academy for low-income artists’ residences, a community arts center and a business incubator for creative enterprises. Built in 1906 as a parochial school, the academy was a vital educational resource and neighborhood anchor for decades. However, by 2000, the decaying structure was considered one of the area’s worst blighting influences. The transformative project, which utilized historic preservation tax credits, is a key component of a comprehensive Arbor Hill neighborhood plan to provide quality affordable housing, create jobs and small businesses, nurture artistic talent and preserve the historic fabric of the community. Academy Lofts has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for change in the surrounding neighborhood.
Parkview Place, 155-165 Main Street, Oneonta
Property owner and developer Charles Klugo successfully revived the former Bresee’s department store in downtown Oneonta as a contemporary commercial and residential complex. Established in 1899, the store was one of the area’s prime shopping centers for many years. The multi-million dollar project, which combined private and local funding with historic preservation tax credits, included the removing of a large aluminum facade that was added to the storefront in the 1950s, revealing the row of 19th-century commercial buildings that were combined to house the department store in the early 1900s. Guided by Johnson-Schmidt and Associates Architects, the building is repaired, historic features are restored or replicated and the interiors are rehabilitated for contemporary use. The local landmark’s rebirth promises to be a major component of the city’s redevelopment efforts.
El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109, 215 East 99th Street, New York City
Artspace, Inc., a national nonprofit organization that creates living and work space for artists, in partnership with El Barrio’s Operation Fight Back, an East Harlem community development organization, and the City of New York successfully completed the outstanding rehabilitation of former Public School 109 for affordable living and work housing for artists and their families, and a community arts space. The project combines private and public funding, including historic preservation tax credits, to bring the 1898 Collegiate Gothic style school back to life in the community. The prominent New York City Board of Education architect Charles B. Snyder designed the project, which is helping to advance the neighborhood’s revitalization and renewal. The decaying landmark is reborn as an affordable housing complex and vibrant center for community engagement and creativity.
Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn
The extraordinary transformation of the decaying Kings Theatre into a spectacular entertainment center has been overseen by an outstanding team of private and public partners, including ACE Theatrical Group, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and National Development Council with support from and in cooperation with the City of New York and Borough of Brooklyn and United Fund Advisors. The more than $90 million project, which leveraged various sources of private and public funding including historic preservation tax credits, restored and rehabilitated the lavish 1929 theatre for contemporary performing arts use. The theatre is transformed and features restored original plaster and painting schemes, vintage carpeting and historic light fixtures; updates which will allow it to accommodate modern shows. Martinez and Johnson Architecture, the Gilbane Building Company, Evergreene Architectural Arts and an army of construction and preservation specialists guided the meticulous restoration.
New York State Barge Canal Historic District
The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, the National Park Service Heritage Documentation Program and the New York State Canal Corporation, all working in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office, have succeeded in the monumental task of listing the 450-mile New York State Barge Canal Historic District on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, the official list of properties significant in state and national history. The district extends over 18 counties and encompasses 23,000 acres. The extensive nomination includes a comprehensive history of the canal system, descriptions of more than 200 canal features and detailed mapping and photography. This outstanding research, documentation and recognition project celebrates a nationally significant work of early 20th century engineering that affected transportation and commerce across the eastern half of the continent for nearly a half century.
Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main Street, Riverhead
Property owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi utilized the historic preservation tax credits to rehabilitate the Art Deco-style Suffolk Theater in Riverhead as a venue for performing arts and special events. Built in 1933, the theater was one of the area’s most popular entertainment centers. However, by the 1980s the theater closed due to dwindling attendance and remained vacant for many years. Thanks to the outstanding commitment of the Castaldi family, the theater is revitalized and restored, including many of its original features, such as wall coverings, period lighting and the lobby’s mural. The building’s distinctive auditorium is rehabilitated as a flexible space for performances and special events. The local landmark is once again an anchor in the community’s central business district, infusing new life into downtown Riverhead and stimulating further local redevelopment activities.
West Point Foundry Preserve, Kemble Avenue, Cold Spring
The regional nonprofit Scenic Hudson organization made an outstanding contribution to transforming the site of the abandoned West Point Foundry in Cold Spring into a new park that interprets the property’s industrial history and natural environment. The foundry, established in 1817 with the endorsement of the federal government, became famous for the development of the Parrott rifle, a muzzle-loading rifled cannon that played an important role in helping the Union win the Civil War. Scenic Hudson acquired the property in 1996 and oversaw an extensive archeological investigation of the site’s historic industrial remains. In 2011, the organization launched a project to rehabilitate the property as a park preserve that interpreted the foundry’s historic, archaeological and natural resources. The multi-million dollar effort combined private and public funding, including grants awarded under the state Environmental Protection Fund. The West Point Foundry Preserve features scenic trails through foundry remains with interpretive displays and offers audiovisual tours, picnic areas and parking.