Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards - 2010

The 2010 Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards at the New York Yacht Club featured some of the most moving and heartfelt tributes in the history of the program. From the glorious restoration of the Empire State Building Lobby to the rebirth of the ca. 1855 Oswego Public Library, the 2010 Awards paid tribute to a wide variety of projects, organizations and individuals exemplifying the very finest in the field. These were just a few of the Award-winning projects and organizations honored by the Preservation League on May 13, 2010.


William S. Hackett Middle School, Albany

Built from 1925-27 from the 1924 design of Marcus T. Reynolds, the exterior facades and interior grand spaces of the school appear to be patterned on 18th century English country estates. The primary interior spaces, including the lobby, grand stair, and auditorium, are eligible for National Historic Landmark Designation. The Awards Jury was particularly impressed with the respect given to the primary spaces of the building, including the grand stairwell and auditorium, and the restoration of stained glass elements. While many new school buildings house their athletic programs in nondescript boxes, the Hackett rehabilitation kept the magnificent gym intact, cleaning the terracotta frieze at the top of the brick walls. Further, a NYSERDA grant supported upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and has resulted in greatly increased energy efficiency.


The Belmont Hotel, Allegany County

The Belmont Hotel was built in 1890, just down the street from the Allegany County Courthouse in the Village of Belmont. League staff was involved in the earliest local efforts to reuse this imposing three-story structure built in 1890 in the heart of this rural village, and advised on some of the project’s first grants. Now, this fully rehabilitated mixed-use property includes cultural, commercial and residential units and is a cornerstone of downtown revitalization efforts – all the while respecting the remaining historical elements of ‘The Queen of Schuyler Street.’


Walkway over the Hudson, Poughkeepsie

On October 3, 2009, the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge was transformed into the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. As one of the signature projects of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration, it welcomed 44,000 visitors the weekend it opened, and demonstrated that rehabilitation was less costly than demolition, while creating a resource and economic development engine for the surrounding community.

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The Guaranty Building, Buffalo

Adler & Sullivan’s Guaranty Building (also called The Prudential Building), completed in 1895, is known as one of the finest office buildings in the country. Despite restoration achievements in the 1980s, stewardship of the landmark building declined and by the late 1990s its future was uncertain. The law firm Hodgson Russ purchased the landmark in 2002, and with vision, leadership and unflagging commitment to both the Guaranty Building and Buffalo’s downtown, spent the next seven years on exterior and interior restoration.

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The American Museum of Natural History, 77th Street Facades, New York

The American Museum of Natural History is an internationally recognized institution devoted to natural science exhibits and one of New York City’s major cultural structures. The red and pink granite facades of the 77th Street wings of the museum were showing signs of age -- cracking, delamination, efflorescence, and soiling. Through masonry cleaning, repairs, and repointing, as well as careful restoration of the building’s monumental wood windows, this project exemplifies the best in historic restoration.


Empire State Building Lobby Restoration, New York

One of the most iconic structures in the city and in the world, the Empire State Building was completed in 1931. Unfortunately, modernization and insensitive modifications made over time had obscured and detracted from the Art Deco lobby, one of the few interiors designated a historic landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The building’s owners’ dedication to historic preservation is illustrated by the retention of some of the best architects, engineers, and historic paint conservators and restoration specialists in the city. Additionally, the Jury was delighted to have a shining example of a landmarked interior space achieving energy efficiency hand-in-hand with historic restoration.

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Oswego Public Library, Oswego

The Oswego Public Library opened in 1857 with a directive that the library be open to all “regardless of race, social standing, or sex.” Just nine years ago, this building was placed on the League’s Seven to Save list of endangered properties, and threatened with abandonment. Now, after significant rehabilitation and expansion, the continued use of an existing building as a library has had a positive effect on Oswego. Retrofitting a 19th century library to accommodate 21st century needs is a challenge and this outcome provides an important statewide model.”

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West Hall at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy

The restoration of the once decrepit West Hall, one of the oldest buildings on the RPI campus, is a remarkable rebirth for this structure which is visible from much of the city. The earliest section of West Hall was built between 1869 and 1873 as the Troy Hospital, established to treat working class women in the industrial city. Owned by the college for more than 40 years with little exterior maintenance, we applaud RPI‟s decision to accept the architects’ recommendation to repair and restore the existing wood windows. Too many colleges and universities have chosen the path of least resistance in restoring their facilities, and historic windows are often lost. The Jury was also impressed that the slate roof, gutters, and challenging cornice were all repaired and replaced in-kind.


Looking for Work: Industrial Archeology in Columbia County, New York by Peter H. Stott (Syracuse University Press, 2007) will be honored as an outstanding publication

Unfortunately, many of the tangible elements of the industrial history of the Hudson Valley are endangered. This well-researched publication highlights existing sites and will serve as a resource for League staff, architectural historians, preservationists, and other historians. The photographic and archival documentation of these sites in this volume is exemplary. This publication will foster a greater understanding of these industrial resources, and may ultimately lead to their preservation.


Senator David Valesky and Assemblymember Sam Hoyt, Legislative sponsors of the New York State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, will be honored for individual excellence

“Historic Preservation is an economic force to be reckoned with. Communities that treasure their historic resources reap tangible benefits, whether through job creation, enhanced property values, heritage tourism growth or downtown revitalization,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. “The Preservation League works in every corner of the Empire State to highlight historic preservation’s important role in our civic lives. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Assemblymember Hoyt and Senator Valesky, New York now provides more effective incentives and program features for developers and municipalities seeking to rehabilitate historic buildings, and to advance redevelopment and economic stimulus goals.”

The Preservation League awards program is supported by a generous grant from the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation.