ADVOCACY | Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel Pumping Station and Gate House, 196 Butler Street, credit: Nathan Kensinger, Curbed New York

Landmarks Commission Acts to Preserve Gowanus Character

 Five architecturally significant Gowanus buildings including the former Somers Brothers Tinware Factory, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. Power Station Engine House, the Montauk Paint Manufacturing Company Building, the Gowanus Canal Flushing Tunnel Pumping Station and Gate House, and the ASPCA Rogers Memorial Building were recently calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to be considered for landmark designation thanks, in part to the Conservancy’s on-going advocacy efforts. 

Acting in response to the City’s rezoning plans for the area announced in 2018, the Conservancy has been working hard with our community partners to retain the best examples of Brooklyn’s industrial past, creating a balance between preservation and growth in the neighborhood. We appreciate LPC's action and will continue to push them to act on other Gowanus buildings we consider worthy of designation.

ADVOCACY | Citywide
The Conservancy is Proud to Support LGBT Sites

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the Conservancy supported six new landmarks associated with LGBT history . We testified at a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on June 4, and the Commission had its vote just two weeks later on June 18. 

The former Caffe Cino on Cornelia Street, Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse on Wooster Street, and Women’s Liberation Center on West 20th Street were all hubs of activist activity in the early years of the gay rights movement.  The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center has long been a focal point for the gay community. The James Baldwin Residence on the Upper West Side and Audre Lorde Residence on Staten Island recognize two individuals with connections to LGBT, literary, and African-American history in New York ( more info on these sites ).

ADVOCACY | South of Union Square
The Strand Building is Now an Official Landmark

On June 11, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate seven buildings south of Union Square as individual landmarks.

The vote came despite heated opposition from the owner of 826 Broadway, which houses the Strand Bookstore , which she also owns. At the hearing, her attorney asked the Commissioners to vote their consciences. They did, with a ringing endorsement for the 1902 Renaissance Revival tower. The Conservancy has supported this designation from the beginning and rebutted the owner’s unfounded claims that it will destroy the bookstore.

Conservancy Grants $12k to Little League Association

The College Point Little League Association will be receiving a $12,000 Conservancy emergency grant for a new roof. The Little League is housed in a 1906 Queen Anne Style firehouse that does double duty as a community hall and senior center. But leaks resulting from our extremely rainy spring have damaged the structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Little League owns the building and reached out to the Conservancy for assistance. The urgent work is expected to start in the next few weeks.

This grant was made possible by support from The New York Community Trust.

Brooklyn Church Gets New Doors After Storm

Congregants at Brooklyn’s I mmanuel & First Spanish United Methodist Church recently celebrated the installation of new front doors made possible by a $14,500 Conservancy emergency grant, made possible by The Hearst Foundation. The old doors, which were not original to the building, were badly wrecked when they were pulled off their hinges by a windstorm.

A new set of wooden doors, designed to match original façade woodwork and to harmonize with the circa 1880 neo-Gothic style of the building, were custom-made in Pennsylvania and installed at the church on June 7. The congregation agrees that the new doors are not only beautiful but also very secure.

ADVOCACY | Lower Manhattan
Plans to Close Rikers Island Jail Spark Controversy

The Conservancy spoke out against the proposed Manhattan jail that is part of the Mayor’s plan to close Rikers Island and build four new jails in the boroughs. The new Manhattan jail would be the tallest building in the area, a 450-foot tower on the site of the Manhattan Detention Center, ( 124-125 White St, between Centre and Baxter Streets) part of a complex eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places. 

At a June 11 hearing convened by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, we expressed our concern that a portion of a National Register eligible building would be demolished. We also noted that the proposed out-of-scale tower would have a negative impact on the local community and the nearby Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District.  Our testimony quoted the judge whose Commission supported a new jail, but questioned the oversized proposal. 
ADVOCACY | Citywide
Hundreds of Buildings Designated Landmarks in June

Several hundred more buildings across the City became landmarks in June. The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate four new historic districts in Sunset Park and the Bay Ridge Parkway District, two sections of Brooklyn brimming with historic resources that were severely under-recognized. 

The Commission also designated the 1929 headquarters of the Colonial Dames on East 71st Street. This Colonial Revival institutional building was based on a 1750 mansion and is an excellent representative from the era of club house architecture. 

From left: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Robert E. Wankel President of the The Shubert Organization, Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab, Landmarks Conservancy Board Chair Michael Braner, and Robert C. Bates AIA Principal Walter B. Melvin Architects. Photo by James Salzano.
2019 Chairman's Award Luncheon a Success

Our thirty-first Chairman’s Award luncheon drew a sold-out crowd to The Metropolitan Club to honor Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams , Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab , Walter Melvin Architects and The Shubert Organization . It was a warm and spirited salute to preservation and to the City we love.

The Borough President was honored for supporting the restoration of the 1787 Erasmus Hall Academy. Jennifer J. Raab restored and transformed Roosevelt Family townhouses into the Roosevelt Institute. Walter Melvin Architects has performed excellent preservation work for 44 years. The Shubert Organization beautifully cares for 17 landmark Broadway Theatres. 

The Landmarks Conservancy inaugurated the Chairman’s Award in 1988 to recognize exceptional organizations and individuals that have demonstrated their dedication to protecting New York’s rich architectural legacy.

Mystery Landmark
Did You Identify This Mystery Landmark?

It's Central Park’s Egyptian Obelisk, known as “Cleopatra’s Needle." The 70-foot tall Obelisk was built in Egypt around 1425 BCE. The 19th-century interest in antiquities led to a governor of Egypt offering the Obelisk to the U.S. in 1869.

This acquisition marked a defining moment in New York’s development as a preeminent cultural capital, but it took several years of logistics, diplomacy, and engineering for the Obelisk to reach its destination in 1880. The six-month crawl through New York’s streets was a media event, and the Obelisk became a major tourist attraction. But over a century in the City’s gritty environment, and a series of ill-advised repairs took a toll, leaving this antique dull and uncelebrated.

In 2015, The Central Park Conservancy engaged a team of experts to treat the damaged Obelisk. Surveys confirmed areas of fragility linked to the time when the Obelisk toppled centuries ago. The team selected an innovative laser-cleaning process, which yielded dramatic results: the color and texture of the granite have been
revealed and the hieroglyphs are clearer and more legible. We honored this restoration with a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award .

The structure was correctly identified by Barbara Kucy and some of her favorite landmarks are the Montauk Club , Brooklyn and the National Arts Club , Gramercy Park.

About Us

From the smallest buildings, to the most extraordinary landmarks, to our diverse neighborhoods, The New York Landmarks Conservancy preserves and protects the unique architectural heritage of the City we love.

We are on the frontlines, giving New York’s preservation needs a voice, advocating for sensible development, providing financial assistance and technical expertise—all to ensure that the character of our City continues to enrich the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

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This month’s Landmark News is sponsored by   Stribling and Associates
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