Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards - 2001
An abandoned hotel, now providing supportive housing for people of limited means in an elegant, historic space. An upstate farmhouse that helps illustrate the story of the birth of Mormonism. A not-for-profit organization committed to restoring old buildings to provide safe, decent, affordable housing. These were just a few of the Award-winning projects honored by the Preservation League on May 1 2001 at the Racquet and Tennis 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.
State University of New York – University Plaza
The exterior restoration of the State University Plaza Building (formerly the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Building) is one of the largest, most extensive and most technically advanced historic preservation projects carried out by a New York State agency in Albany. The project utilized state-of-the-art, non-destructive investigation techniques to determine the condition of the exterior building components. John G. Waite Associates, Architects used historic photographs to reconstruct the cast stone finials that had been removed during a 1970s renovation. Now, the Flemish Gothic Revival style building, designed by Marcus T. Reynolds, is once again the magnificent focal point at the foot of State Street in Albany.
The Historic Chapel at Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery, established in 1838, is among the earliest and most significant rural cemeteries in America, and is famous worldwide for its extraordinary scenic beauty and collection of architectural monuments. In 1911, Warren & Wetmore, Architects designed a chapel that was built entirely of carved Indiana Limestone. The chapel stood unused for 30 years until the cemetery began a stabilization and restoration program in 1995. After careful cleaning of all surfaces, installing a heating system, repairing stonework, woodwork and fixtures, and recreating missing hardware, the chapel reopened in spring 2000. Brooklyn, often called the "Borough of Churches," has now rediscovered a lost gem of its architectural heritage.
MTA Metro-North Harlem 125th Street Station
The Metro-North Harlem 125th Street Station was designed by Morgan O’Brien in 1896 to provide comfort and elegance to the traveling public. Over time, the station and platform deteriorated, became unsightly and grew to be a safety hazard. The once badly deteriorated station has been faithfully restored to the prominence it enjoyed when it first opened a century ago. After nearly $22 million, the rehabilitation of the Metro-North Harlem 125th Street Station represents a crowning achievement for the MTA Metro-North Railroad and for the residents of Harlem.
The Prince George
In 1996, Common Ground Community, a not-for-profit supportive housing developer, acquired the former Prince George Hotel, a thirteen-story building built in 1904 as an elegant tourist hotel. By the 1980s, the Prince George had deteriorated to a welfare hotel, and by 1990 it was abandoned. Thanks to the dedication of Common Ground Community, the Prince George was carefully restored. Combining affordable housing and historic preservation, Common Ground created 416 units of housing while restoring beautiful spaces, windows and marble mosaic floors. Common Ground was able to fulfill their mission to house people of limited means -- low-income, special needs, and formerly homeless individuals, while creating for them a beautiful space in a significant historic building.
W New York – Union Square Hotel
An icon in the New York City skyline, the rooftop sign that once read Guardian Life now reads W Union Square, and the 1911 French Renaissance Revival landmark now is restored and reused for a boutique hotel. Using the Historic Preservation investment Tax Credit, the project included the cleaning and repair of the building’s masonry, and extensive restoration of the building’s interior spaces. Brennan Beer Gorman Architects’ designs created new vibrant public spaces and restored the marble-finished elevator lobbies, corridors and former premium payment room to their original grandeur.
Joseph Smith Farm House
The Joseph Smith Farm House, built in 1822, once housed the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith, who established the tenants of the Mormon religion while living there. After the family moved west in 1829, the house was occupied by a series of owners who altered the building to suit their needs. In 1997, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints retained Crawford & Stearns Architects and Planners to determine the feasibility of restoring the house to its 1820s appearance. Through intensive research and careful planning, the architects determined that restoration was possible. Now, the Joseph Smith Farm House is faithfully restored, and will continue to tell the significant story of Joseph Smith.
The Standard House
By the time Katharina and Richard Cerreta purchased the Standard House in 1998, it was boarded-up, occupied by stray cats and vagrants, damaged by a recent fire, and about to go into the tangled mess of foreclosure. However, the Cerretas, like many Peekskill residents, saw the potential beauty of the Standard House and began a long battle to purchase the building and restore it for viable use. The exterior masonry was carefully washed and repointed with matching mortar. The original chimneys and shutters that had been removed were rebuilt and replaced. And, all of the wood windows were rebuilt rather than replaced. Now, the Standard House contains new technology businesses, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and sits proudly on Peekskill’s waterfront.
St. Bernard’s Park Apartments
The historic former St. Bernard’s Seminary was constructed beginning in 1896, as an educational institution for the Rochester Catholic Diocese. Due to declining enrollments, the seminary closed in the late 1970s, and stood vacant and deteriorating for a number of years. In 1996, plans to create much-needed low and middle-income apartments for senior citizens brought a new use to the seminary. Led by SWBR Architects, the project included cleaning and repointing of the exterior masonry, restoring the terrazzo floors, and converting the historic chapel into a common meeting room. The vacant seminary was transformed into 147 units of senior housing, and day care, dining and recreational space. The building, located on a dramatic site above the Genesee River, remains one of the most prominent edifices in Rochester.
St. Lucy’s Roman Catholic Church
On Labor Day 1998, a devastating storm swept through Central New York, and severe wind gusts knocked St. Lucy’s main spire, over 80 feet in height, onto the street. The four thousand pound bronze bell crashed through the sanctuary roof, through the main floor to the basement below. After recovering from the shock, St. Lucy’s congregation displayed a banner on their church which read, "Our tower is broken, but our spirit is strong." This attitude saw through the restoration and reconstruction of St. Lucy’s, located in one of Syracuse’s poorest neighborhoods. Holmes King Kallquist and Associates worked with the church to redesign the sanctuary to be more community friendly, while preserving the historic space and fabric. The tower has now been stabilized and partially reconstructed, and St. Lucy’s is continuing its vital role as spiritual and social center of Syracuse’s west side community.
The Rice Building
The 1871 Rice Building, part of the Central Troy Historic District, is one of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic style architecture surviving in the city of Troy. Its restoration came out of the successful cooperation between Troy Savings Bank, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the Troy Architectural Program, as well as the support of Senator Joseph Bruno and Mayor Mark Pattison. This partnership demanded a high quality restoration of the historic building while adapting the interior to house emerging companies established by RPI graduates. The uniqueness of the Rice Building’s form, the richness of its exterior detail, the combination of historic features and high-tech wiring, and the prominence of its location has made it a symbol for the resurgence of Troy.
Eastern New York Correctional Facility
In 2000, Eastern New York Correctional Facility celebrated their Centennial Anniversary with several significant preservation activities that culminated five years of planning. During this time, the facility successfully applied for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places for their 1902 O & W Train Station, and received a Federal TEA-21 grant of $128,900 to restore the station for use as a public museum. Eastern New York Correctional Facility also produced a book and video of the history of the facility and of corrections in New York State. Other Centennial Celebration events included the creation of post cards and a U.S. Postal cancellation stamp, participation in a parade, an open house and community banquet, and erection of memorial signage. And, Eastern New York Correctional Facility undertook these projects with the help of many of its inmates.
Neighbors of Watertown
Neighbors of Watertown is a not-for-profit organization committed to providing safe, decent, affordable housing for the citizens of the City of Watertown. Since 1992, Neighbors of Watertown has provided over $10,250,000 to the rehabilitation and adaptive use of historic properties in Watertown’s Public Square National Register Historic District. The organization also provides ongoing management and maintenance for each of their properties. Through their efforts, Neighbors of Watertown have now turned four major properties in their community from dilapidated, vacant or underutilized eyesores into successful, attractive, self-supporting, and fully rehabilitated structures – all in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
Katherine Raub Ridley
Katherine Raub Ridley devoted much of her life to protecting the irreplaceable. In 1987, Kathie began her work as Counsel at the Preservation League of New York State, and used her legal expertise to assist cities, hamlets and towns across the state in safeguarding their treasured heritage. Kathie helped communities write and adopt local preservation laws, and she trained landmark commissioners in interpreting and executing these laws. She promoted sound preservation policies in Albany and in the federal legislature, and helped to advance the statewide preservation movement. This posthumous award celebrates Kathie’s devotion and contribution to historic preservation.
For over 40 years, Paul Malo has been at the forefront of preservation advocacy in New York – as architect, author, teacher, scholar, and consultant. A faculty member of Syracuse University’s School of Architecture for over 30 years, Paul also maintained an architectural practice that brought him into contact with many historic properties. Paul also authored numerous publications featuring New York’s architectural heritage, from the Adirondack Great Camps to the Thousand Islands region. A former president and trustee of the Preservation League of New York State, Paul’s work continues to protect and promote our historic resources.
EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Donn Esmonde’s passion, journalistic integrity, professional courage, and way with words has stirred public interest and rallied support for historic preservation projects and issues in the seven county region served by the Buffalo News. Through his writing, Donn has been a champion for protecting not only high style monuments, like H.H. Richardson’s Buffalo State Hospital, but also the much more anonymous historic buildings that fail to capture public attention. His stories have covered major issues that affect our historic environments, including the proliferation of chain drugstores, sprawl and inappropriate development, and demolition by neglect. Most recently, in his more than 35 articles on the struggle to save Commercial Slip, the western terminus of the Erie Canal, Donn joined in the fight to save this historic site.
In the Capital Region, where past, present and future regularly collide, the Times Union has reported the confrontation on its news pages and helped shape the debate on its commentary pages. Whether the issue was the fate of a tiny village church, trends in urban redevelopment, or the appropriate role of government in protecting historic resources, the Times Union offers ongoing coverage and commentary. Headlines that read, "Past, future set to meet in a turf war," "Working on a future for Albany’s past," and "Cities turn to culture, history to bring back downtowns" brought preservation issues to the attention of Times Union readers, signifying that our past is an integral part of our present.