Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards - 2002
A presidential retreat in the Hudson Valley. A shuttered middle school converted to Senior housing. A restored fireboat brought back into service on 9/11. These were just a few of the Award-winning projects honored by the Preservation League in May, 2002 at the Union League Club in New York. Descriptions of each of the Awards are below.
The League celebrates projects, individuals and organizations that are doing exemplary work through its Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards.
Albany Institute of History & Art
Founded in 1971, the Albany Institute of History & Art is a regional museum dedicated to collecting, preserving and interpreting the art, history and culture of the upper Hudson Valley from the seventeenth century to the present. Faced with the challenge of two adjacent but separate historic landmark buildings, which no longer served the Institute’s programmatic needs and were in need of rehabilitation, the Institute chose to combine a creative preservation and restoration project with sensitively designed new construction. The project entailed enjoining the two National Register properties with a three-story glass atrium and adding a new collections storage wing to the rear of the museum building. This enabled the Institute to meet the 21st Century needs of the community and at the same time create new space and a proper environment for the preservation and exhibition of collections.
This award recognizes the manner in which the innovative contrast between the modern new structures and the elegantly restored historic buildings has resulted in an outstanding project and an exciting new image for downtown Albany.
Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens
The Central Dome at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens serves as the centerpiece of the conservatory located on a prominent site at the entry to the Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot designed South Park (1894). The conservatory, designed by preeminent conservatory designers, Lord and Burnham, is a contributing structure in the Park’s National Register listing. Following years of inadequate maintenance and advanced levels of deterioration, the structure was determined to be unsafe for public occupancy in 1997. As a result, the Erie County Public Works Department and the Botanical Gardens Society made the commitment to undertake the technically challenging restoration. The Entry Portico and the Dome restoration project involved repair and stabilization of the structure, replacement of glass, and refurbishing the mechanical and electrical systems.
This award recognizes the high quality of the restoration and the project’s role as a symbol of renewal for the Botanical Gardens Society and the community.
Top Cottage was designed by Franklin D. Roosevelt with the assistance of Henry Toombs (listed as “associate architect”), as a private retreat for the President in Hyde Park. With its simple forms, steeply pitched roofs, and rubble fieldstone walls, the building embodies Roosevelt’s ideas about the appropriate architectural style for the Hudson Valley and the importance of the Valley’s Dutch heritage. In the 1990’s, with the threat that the house would be quickly sold to a developer, members of the Roosevelt Family succeeded in implementing an emergency plan to fund its purchase and restoration. The restoration, which took one year, returned to the house to its 1945 appearance, the period of its greatest historical significance. The house opened to the public in June 2001.
This award recognizes the outstanding and careful restoration of Top Cottage that now allows visitors to gain a further understanding of the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a President, as a disabled citizen, and as an individual.
Built in 1872 and designed by Henry Fernbach, Central Synagogue is based on the basilica plan and is remarkable for its high-Victorian, Moorish-inspired design. Although the congregation numbered only 150 members at the time, the building was optimistically constructed to seat more than 1,000, and now is home to more than 4,000 congregants. In 1998, when fire destroyed much of the Synagogue, the congregation decided to rebuild within the historic walls and execute a detailed restoration that celebrated the Synagogue’s historic character, while making the building a more functional contemporary space for worship. Nearly every surface in the Synagogue was recreated including ornate plasterwork, woodwork, stencil painting, encaustic tile flooring, and other decoration.
This award recognizes the exceptional restoration that has brought back to life an architectural treasure that has played a significant role both in the history of American Judaism and the cultural life of New York City.
NYC Administration for Children's Services - New Children’s Center
The R&S Building at Bellevue Hospital is a 1907 Mckim Mead & White structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The renovation project comprised an adaptive reuse of the building into an Emergency Intake Center and Training Academy for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and restoration and rehabilitation of the landmark exterior. Due to years of deferred maintenance, the exterior of the building had experienced significant deterioration and was literally falling into the street. Historic preservation and conservation were key elements and important design goals of the project. The facility was designed to provide a comfortable and supportive environment for approximately 110 children while they await foster care placement. The complete exterior rehabilitation and a new canopied First Avenue entrance maintain the historic character of the building while expressing its new functions.
This award recognizes the outstanding quality of the restoration and the re-utilization of a significant structure for an equally significant function; foster care and placement of children.
The Gunther Building stands within the SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District and was constructed in 1873 from the designs of architect Griffith Thomas as a warehouse for the fur dealer William H. Gunther. The extensive restoration of the eroding façade was initiated by the members of the Gunther Building 1873 Cooperative in 1996 and continued to 2001. Considerable efforts were made to retain and recreate the original details of the façade.
This award recognizes the historic importance of this building as one of the most significant examples of cast iron architecture in SoHo, and the outstanding attention to detail that has set an example for the continuing restoration of the entire SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District.
Built between 1861 and 1881 to the designs of John Kellum and Leopold Eidlitz, the Courthouse is the legacy of Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, and is an important monument in the history of New York City. Grandly scaled and richly decorated, the Courthouse was threatened with demolition as late as the 1970’s. However, its significance has been recognized through listing on the National Register of Historic Properties in 1974 and its designation as a National Historic Landmark two years later. In 1999 New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Guiliani directed the New York City Economic Development Corporation to proceed with a comprehensive restoration program for the building. The restoration was a complex and intricate process, and today the restored building, both inside and out, is truly magnificent.
This award recognizes the meticulous planning, research, design and execution of the restoration, as well as the leadership exhibited by the City of New York and the Economic Development Corporation in returning one of New York’s most spectacular buildings to its original splendor.
When midtown Manhattan’s Lever House was completed in 1952, it marked a watershed in American architecture. Located on the west side of Park Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, the 24-story corporate headquarters—with its façade of blue-green glass and stainless steel mullions—was one of the first glass-walled International Style office buildings in the country. In 1992, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Lever House a landmark, recognizing its pivotal importance to American architecture. As Lever House approached its 50th Anniversary, the building’s façade had deteriorated due to harsh weather conditions and the limitations of the original fabrication and materials. A careful restoration using state-of-the-art modern curtain wall technology solutions has been carried out, protecting this architectural icon.
This award recognizes the outstanding restoration which has returned this "glittering jewel in the midtown landscape" to its original appearance and the precedent it has set for restoring modern landmarks.
Kibler Senior Housing
The Kibler Junior High School opened in 1925 on Main Street in the City of Tonawanda, representing the best of school design and planning at its time. The exterior design is derived from Classical and Georgian vocabulary and over the central main entrance towers a distinctive copper cupola. Kibler served the community as a school until 1983, and was used by the Tonawanda School District through 1988, when it was abandoned. Suffering over a decade of neglect, the building was listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Ultimately it was brought back to life through conversion to a senior housing complex by the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition. The project respected the building's integrity through use of historic adaptive re-use guidelines. The original central corridor, circulation patterns, community spaces, and fenestration were all rehabilitated and incorporated into the new building use.
This award recognizes the quality of the restoration and the example that this adaptive re-use project establishes for all of New York State’s abandoned former schools, which can still function as important landmarks and assets to a community.
The American Hotel was built between 1847 and 1851 in the spa village of Sharon Springs and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The Greek Revival building was operated as a hotel in the famed upstate spa community until the 1950’s, after which followed more than 40 years of neglect, and ultimate condemnation in 1989. By 1996 the property was in serious trouble with large portions of the roof collapsed, considerable interior water damage, faltering foundation walls and significant structural damage. Purchased by visionaries Douglas Plummer and Garth Roberts in 1996, the two owners began an extensive four-year renovation which honors the original architectural integrity and overall character of the American. The American Hotel is now a focal point of Sharon Spring’s small commercial district and is central to the revitalization efforts finally underway.
This award recognizes the pioneering efforts owners Douglas Plummer and Garth Roberts have taken in restoring the American to its original splendor and the impact that the American’s restoration has had in the revitalization of the Sharon Springs Historic District.
Trinity Steeple Preservation Project
Trinity Episcopal Church in Watertown, New York is one of the most recognized landmarks along the Watertown skyline. The church was built in 1890 as a gift of the 30th Governor of New York State and U.S. Congressman, Roswell P. Flower. In recent years, structural problems had threatened the church's most prominent feature; the steeple. In 1998 church leaders approved the demolition of the tower. At that time, a grassroots community campaign began efforts to persuade church officials to postpone the demolition until other options could be explored. The effort led to the identification of funding to commence a comprehensive historic restoration.
This award recognizes not only the careful restoration which has returned this local landmark to its near-original appearance, but also the tremendous efforts of the Trinity Steeple Preservation Committee. The Committee’s perseverance, hard work and building of community partnerships made this project a reality and raised the awareness of Watertown’s historical treasures and their important role in the community’s quality of life.
For Sustained Achievement in Preservation
Adirondack Architectural Heritage
AARCH was formed in 1987 to address the need for a regional preservation organization which could become a positive force for raising the visibility of preservation through education and advocacy of the Adirondacks, its importance to the region’s cultural and economic heritage, and its contribution to it sense of place. One of AARCH’s significant successes was the preservation of Great Camp Santanoni and its designation as a National Historic Landmark. AARCH’s professionalism, ingenuity and steadfast commitment to historic preservation in the Adirondack Region have greatly benefited both the private and public sectors. Their educational outreach programs have raised the level of awareness regarding historic resources in the region, and their ability to form partnerships with individuals, communities, organizations and government to address specific historic preservation issues has earned them a place of respect in the field.
This award recognizes AARCH’s sustained achievement in preservation, in staying true to its mission while responding to the Adirondack’s preservation needs, saving historic buildings and educating the public about preservation's central role in revitalizing communities.
For Supporting Preservation-Based Revitalization
First Ward Action Council
Since 1989, First Ward Action Council has been systematically buying, remodeling and renovating buildings, one or two at a time in the Binghamton area, providing attractive, affordable housing. Their recently completed “New Dwightsville” renovation project transformed eight large deteriorated Victorian-style homes, giving new life to a distressed neighborhood and initiating a new image for one of the City’s major gateway entrances. The project resulted in 22 apartments for low and moderate-income families and has helped educate the public that adaptive reuse of historic buildings is a viable alternative to demolition, at once preserving the history and character of the community while providing for the needs of the future.
This award recognizes the role First Ward Action Council has played in supporting preservation-based revitalization while providing much needed affordable housing for the Binghamton community.
For School Preservation
City of New York Department of Design and Construction
The New York City Board of Education and the DDCNY, recognizing the significance of New York City’s historic schools, have embarked on a preservation-sensitive campaign to standardize repair procedures, evaluate and retain significant historic fabric and develop creative approaches for replicating missing and non-functioning elements. A project demonstrating this new awareness is PS 157 in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, a Gothic Revival-style school and early example of the work of Board of Education architect C.B.J. Snyder. By 1999 PS 157 was in dire need of rehabilitation, suffering from years of neglect, misguided alterations and extensive terra cotta failure. The conditions and deficiencies encountered on P.S. 157 are representative of many of New York City’s schools that are more than 50 years old, of which only 29 are designated landmarks.
This award recognizes the outstanding care in which the parapet, façade, doors and transoms on P.S. 157 were restored, and the significant precedent that the City of New York Department of Design and Construction has set for the restoration of older, historic schools throughout New York State.
SPECIAL ORGANIZATION AWARD
For Service on 9/11/01
John J. Harvey Fireboat
Launched in 1931, the MV John J. Harvey served the New York Fire Department for 63 years, and is among the most powerful fireboats ever in service. After being retired in 1999, the Harvey was bought at auction by her current owners and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. The boat’s owners and countless volunteers embarked on a careful restoration program and began working to raise awareness of the importance of historic vessels, and their contribution to the history of New York City and our nation. When the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11th, the boat's owners and volunteers raced to her helm and took off to help in the one way they knew they could. For days, the Harvey and two other fireboats provided the only source of water available at the site.
This award recognizes the painstaking restoration that kept the fireboat in working condition, and the bravery of the volunteers at the helm in the days following 9/11. For more information on the John J. Harvey, please visit their web site at: http://www.fireboat.org
For Lifetime Achievement in Preservation
Since his high school days until the present, George Dudley has used a #2 pencil to pursue his hobby of sketching. On graduation from the Yale School of Architecture, George was awarded a fellowship which allowed him to bicycle through France to record scenes of Gothic and Renaissance architecture in the summer of 1938. After recording what in some cases would be destroyed just a few years later in World War II, George returned to Yale to receive a degree in city planning and urban design. Over the course of his career, he was engaged in countless projects including the plans for the United Nations headquarters, post-war planning for Latin America and the Middle East and the State University Construction Fund. He also served as dean of Architecture at RPI and UCLA. In the 1970’s he returned to his hobby of sketching, focusing on the northeastern United States; recording many of New York’s architectural treasures and often helping in preservation efforts along the way.
This award recognizes George’s significant role in New York’s architectural history as a practitioner, as a government official and as an artist.
Since 1965, Everett Ortner has been a leader in the brownstone-revival movement in New York City, and for urban revival nationally. He was on the forefront of revitalizing his Brooklyn community of Park Slope, and was a co-founder and first president in 1968 of the Brownstone Revival Committee of New York, now the Brownstone Revival Coalition (BRC) – a citywide organization devoted to the promotion and preservation of New York City’s older neighborhoods. His work was not limited to New York City. In the early 1970’s Everett organized the Back to the City Conference, which brought together representatives of 82 cities across the county and led to the organization, Back to the City, Inc. Now in his eighties, Everett is the chairman of BRC, still writing and editing its newsletter, offering occasional lectures and acting frequently as the voice of New York’s brownstone communities.
This award recognizes Everett’s lifetime achievement in support of preserving urban neighborhoods and, in particular, New York’s treasured brownstone architecture.
For Excellence in Preservation Publications
Andy Olenik & Richard Reisem
Over the past ten years, Andy and Richard have volunteered their talents and untold hours creating the books 200 Years of Rochester Architecture and Gardens(1994), Classic Buffalo (1999) and Erie Canal Legacy (2000). Andy, an established commercial photographer, and his wife Sherri, devoted years of work and travel to each book, which together comprise over 500 photographs. Richard, a retired public affairs executive, combined his interest in architecture and his skills in writing to research each site and write the text. The quality of the books and the unique way in which they have been created and published has enabled each to enjoy significant sales (13-15,000 for each book); resulting in an increased appreciation for the architectural heritage of the Erie Canal region.
This award recognizes the outstanding quality of Andy and Richard’s work and their selfless dedication to raising the awareness of New York’s architectural treasures through their publications.