Seven to Save: 2006
The 2006 Seven to Save list spotlights historic properties that exemplify challenges facing historic places across the state. Sites listed this year draw attention to the plight of New York's agricultural architecture, the threat of abandonment of municipally-owned landmark buildings, and the need to consider historic preservation in the face of development pressure. These seven valued historic resources are in danger of disappearing because of insufficient funding and financial incentives, insensitive public policies, general neglect, disinvestment, and in some cases, demolition.
George Harvey Office Building | Binghamton, Broome County (1939)
Landmark status: Located in local, State and National Register historic district.
Threat: Municipal disinvestment.
Designed in 1939 by Binghamton architect Walter Whitlock, the Justice Building has been called a “New Deal version of classical Federal design with Art Deco detailing.” The abandoned building stands in the center of a complex of local and state government buildings in downtown Binghamton, and is an important visual component of the surrounding Court Street Historic District which surrounds the 1898 Broome County Courthouse. In the 1990s, due to asbestos concerns, Broome County constructed a replacement facility on an adjacent parcel. In 2001, as a cost-cutting measure, the county shut off the utilities of the Justice Building, leading to further deterioration. However, if rehabilitated for offices successfully serving the needs of the county, the George Harvey Justice Building could become a vital part of a “justice hub” and an anchor for a revitalized downtown.
Hamlet of Sherwood | Town of Scipio, Cayuga County
Landmark status: Some buildings eligible for National Register listing.
Threat: Vacancy, neglect.
Beginning in the 1830s and continuing for more than 70 years, the activism of Slocum and Hannah Howland and their daughter Emily distinguished Sherwood as a hotbed of local, state and national social reform movements including Abolitionism, Women’s Rights and Temperance. Some two dozen houses, former stores, a one-room school and a cemetery characterize this crossroads community that still retains much of its bucolic 19th century appearance. Today most of the residences are in private hands; and, while some are in good repair, several of the most historical important properties are vacant and in need of stabilization. These include several Howland family houses. A lack of resources and neglect threaten key properties. Greater awareness of Sherwood’s significance, its landmark qualities and the availability of technical and financial resources dedicated to property care could result in improved buildings, while preserving one of the state’s most historically significant hamlets.
Allentown, Hamlin Park & West Village Neighborhoods | Buffalo, Erie County
Landmark status: Allentown and West Village are local and National Register historic districts; Hamlin Park is local historic district.
Threat: Disinvestment and vacancy in historic neighborhoods.
The League continues to work to secure passage of the Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Credit. This listing features three distinct historic neighborhoods in downtown Buffalo that would significantly benefit from the legislation. If voted into law, the legislation would provide up to $50,000 per structure for the rehabilitation of owner-occupied historic homes. Such economic incentives would provide means for current owners of historic buildings to make needed upkeep and repairs and also encourage prospective new homeowners to locate in the city. The combination of a new mayoral administration, strong neighborhood preservation advocates and the pending release of a significant new inventory of structures eligible for the State- and National Register places the City of Buffalo high on the list of New York State communities which would benefit from the legislation.
Williamsburg | Brooklyn, Kings County
Landmark status: Several buildings eligible for State and National Register; No locally-listed district.
Threat: Development out of scale with historic fabric.
The boroughs of New York City are experiencing one of the most intense periods of development in many years. This boom is aided by revised zoning codes, which have increased the allowed density for new construction. While growth is important for the health of New York City overall, the number and size of proposed developments may permanently erase the historic streetscapes and pedestrian scale which now attract growing numbers of new residents and businesses. Due to its location on the East River, Williamsburg was one of the most prosperous industrial areas in New York City. Today, many large-scale factory buildings remain there, as does low rise worker’s housing and varied commercial buildings. Grand Street is a significant corridor with historic buildings left from the pre-Williamsburg Bridge era when the Grand Street Ferry terminal served Brooklyn. Members of the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Williamsburg and Greenpoint will work with League staff to develop tools to promote the value of existing built resources and building types and the need for development designed to enhance rather than overshadow the character of the area.
Hop Kilns of Central New York | Madison County
Landmark status: Some eligible for State and National Listing.
Threat: Deterioration, lack of adaptive use
Commercial hop farming was a major industry in New York State from its introduction in Madison County in 1808 until its decline in the 20th century. Forty-three counties reported having at least one hop farm and by 1880, 80% of the nation's hops came from New York State. The end of cultivation did not, however, result in the complete loss of the industry’s built heritage. In Madison County alone, 35 kilns remain from the estimated 100 once in use, and five of these are in danger of collapse. As part of the organization known as KILNS (Kilns in the Landscape of New York State), the Madison County Historical Society sponsored the Seven to Save nomination, and they will work with the League to promote better documentation of remaining kilns, stabilization and, when appropriate, designation of the fragile resources as landmarks. The project is timely, as the “I Love New York Beer Trail” is a recently-created economic strategy to boost the state’s growing microbrewery industry. Kiln advocates believe that inclusion of preserved hop kilns would add an important dimension to the heritage tourism experience. By offering more incentive to keep kilns in the landscape of New York State, the statewide Beer Trail will not only support a growing industry, but also demonstrate its connection to the state's agricultural past.
Rutger Park Residences | Utica, Oneida County
Landmark status: Rutger Park local, State and National Historic District; No. 3 Rutger Park designated National Historic Landmark.
Threat: Vacancy, deferred maintenance.
Located in a planned park-like setting in what was once the rural outskirts of Utica, the architecturally significant residences at Rutger Park are linked to state and national leaders who made Utica their home in the 19th century. Two are associated with nationally prominent architects, especially active in New York State. Number 3 Rutger Park was designed by Philip Hooker of Albany, and the imposing 1854 Italian Villa style house at 1 Rutger Park is considered one of Alexander Jackson Davis’ most important works. Appropriate preservation of these properties hold the promise of spurring new economic activity within Utica. Currently, the buildings are vacant, and are enduring yet another winter without stabilization. Plans for their stabilization and rehabilitation should be made promptly so that these local, state and national treasures can again become useful and a point of pride in Utica and the state.
Historic Wood Windows | Statewide
Landmark status: Many buildings on local, State and National Registers.
Threat: Deferred maintenance, alteration and replacement.
While often seen as interchangeable parts, windows are actually one of the most important aspects of a building’s historic material and appearance. They are also most likely to be the last item on a regular maintenance list and deteriorate over time. Each year thousands of historic wood windows are removed and sent to landfills in New York State alone. Property owners believe that the windows are beyond repair or that they are saving energy or time by installing replacements. In fact, while destroying an important part of a building’s history and its architect’s design intent, the owner may also spend more money than successful repairs would have required. Furthermore, discarded building materials add to already scarce landfill space. Given the quality of material and mechanics, repaired historic windows often last longer than replacements. The Association for Preservation Technology-Northeast Chapter (APT-NE) and Historic Albany Foundation nominated the project which also has the support of the Historic Preservation Education Foundation. The goal of the listing is to correct myths about the impossibility of keeping wood windows by providing information on affordable repairs and effective preservation methods.