The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) have announced seven projects and individuals from around state received 2018 New York State Historic Preservation Awards to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic landmarks.
Established in 1980, the state preservation awards are given by State Parks’ Division for Historic Preservation each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York’s historic and cultural resources. Awards honor the efforts and achievement of individuals, organizations and municipalities that make significant contributions to the state’s historic preservation objectives. This year’s awards were presented at a ceremony held at the New York State Museum in downtown Albany.
This year’s award recipients include:
Randolph Houses, Harlem: The 1890s Randolph Houses were empty and slated for demolition when Trinity Partners Inc. and West Harlem Group Assistance took on the redevelopment project. The project transformed an entire Harlem streetscape, including 36 buildings and 283 housing units, With the assistance of historic tax credits and federal low-income housing tax credits, the project is a great example of how New York City’s distinguishing 19th century tenement buildings can serve modern housing needs and create affordable housing in the city.
Tower of Victory, Washington’s Headquarters, Newburgh: The Tower of Victory at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site was built in 1887 to commemorate the peace following the Revolution War. The tower fell into disrepair after its roof was damaged by storm in the 1950s. A multi-decade restoration effort by the State Parks Palisades Region, the Palisades Park Conservancy, and local masons and construction companies saw the reconstruction of the roof, observation deck and conservation/ reinstallation of the several bronze statues.
New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project: The New York City LGBT Historic Sites project helped expand understanding of LGBT history in the five boroughs. The multi-year survey included the completion of a historic context statement, the addition of five new listings to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, an interactive GIS based website, and dynamic social media campaign. The project was funded and supported by two NPS Underrepresented Communities grants, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Arcus Foundation, the New York Community Trust, and American Express.
Hotel Saranac, Saranac Lake: Underutilized for decades, the 1927 Hotel Saranac has been transformed by a local developer into a premier hotel and heritage tourism hub in the North Country. The $35 million rehabilitation, now part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, is the is the largest historic tax credit investment in the Adirondacks. The hotel includes 82 renovated rooms, a spa, bar and grill, and salon.
Sibley Square, Rochester: Opened in 1906, Sibley’s was once the largest department store between New York City and Chicago. The store closed in 1989. In 2013 WinnCompanies began its largest preservation and reuse project to date, revitalizing 1.1 million square feet as mixed income, mixed use development, incorporating commercial, residential, educational, and recreational elements. The project is now largest historic tax credit investment in upstate New York. The result is a mixed-use hub that includes low income and market rate housing, commercial, office, maker, and workforce development space. This project reflects a successful public-private partnership, including assistance from Empire State Development and New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
The New Guinea Community Site, Hyde Park: The archaeologically significant historic resource located in Hackett Hill Park in the Town of Hyde Park documents an early Dutchess County free black community that was active from ca. 1790 to ca. 1850, when historical records that relate to African Americans experience are meager. The Town of Hyde Park, the Hyde Park Historical Society and local volunteers worked with the state to list the New Guinea Community Site on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The partners also worked together to preserve artifacts recovered from excavations of the site. The town is also creating walking trails and interpretive signage and developing a classroom curriculum for local school students.
Mark Thomas, Western District Director, New York State Parks: From 2007 until his retirement this year, Mark Thomas directed state parks in the 10 Western New York counties and oversaw the execution of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “NY Parks 2020” initiative which included more than a $125 million investment into Western Region state parks. Thomas’s tenure included the $70 million restoration of Niagara Falls State Park, the nation’s oldest state park, and the opening of the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park
The Division for Historic Preservation helps communities identify, evaluate, preserve and revitalize their historic, archeological, and cultural resources. The Division works with governments, the public, and educational and not-for-profit organizations to raise historic preservation awareness, to instill in New Yorkers a sense of pride in the state’s unique history and to encourage heritage tourism and community revitalization.
Photo of Mark Thomas, Western District Director, New York State Parks provided.