Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

December 05, 2013

Randy Simons
Dan Keefe

New York State Historic Preservation Awards Announced for 2013

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced the recipients of the 2013 New York State Historic Preservation Awards. Established in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are given each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York's historic and cultural resources.

"The historic preservation awards recognize the efforts and achievements of individuals, organizations, and municipalities that make significant contributions to historic preservation efforts across the state," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "This year's awards demonstrate the outstanding commitments, hard work, and strong partnerships that have made preservation an important tool for community renewal, economic development, and job growth in New York State."

The awards were announced at a ceremony held in the visitor center at Peebles Island State Park in Waterford. This year's award recipients include:

Buffalo Neighborhood Preservation Initiative

Thanks to the outstanding commitment of local residents, neighborhood organizations, and city officials, a group of Buffalo's largest and most significant residential and commercial areas have been listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, including the Allentown Historic District Expansion, portions of the Black Rock neighborhood, Elmwood Historic District West, the Hamlin Park Historic District, and the University Park Historic District. The nominations were initiated by dedicated local sponsors, including the Allentown Association, the Black Rock-Riverside Good Neighbors Planning Alliance, the Hamlin Park Community and Taxpayers' Association, the St. John's-Grace Episcopal Church and Richmond-Ashland National Register Historic District Initiative, the City of Buffalo, the State University at Buffalo, and Clinton Brown Company Architecture. The nonprofit organizations Preservation Buffalo Niagara and the Preservation League of New York State also played key roles in supporting these projects. This citywide initiative is one of the largest, most comprehensive historic resource identification and recognition efforts in Buffalo's history and awards were presented to all those who contributed to these important projects.

USS SLATER and the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum, Albany

The USS SLATER is the only World War II era destroyer escort still afloat and has become one of the finest naval ship exhibits in the country, drawing thousands of visitors to Albany's riverfront. Built in 1944, the Slater is a CANNON class destroyer escort that served in United States Navy during World War II. Decommissioned in 1947, the Slater was transferred to the Greek Navy in 1951 and used for training and patrols. It was deactivated in 1991 and threatened with disposal. Fortunately, the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association, a nationwide organization dedicated to recognizing the importance of destroyer escorts and those who served on them, came to the ship's rescue. The Greek Navy donated the ship to the association, which raised money to bring it to New York and established the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum to take charge of its restoration. The project's great success is a testament to the effectiveness of the museum as well as the commitment of its volunteers. In addition to being an educational asset, the Slater has become an important patriotic symbol, honoring all those who serve the country in the military, especially the United States Navy. The award recognizes Executive Director Tim Rizzuto and the dedicated members of the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum for their outstanding contribution to the restoration and interpretation of this nationally significant warship.

City Pier A and the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority, New York City

The award recognizes the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority for its outstanding contribution to rescuing and restoring City Pier A, the oldest surviving pier in New York City. The pier was originally constructed in the mid-1880s to house the city's Department of Docks and the police department's harbor force. Thanks to the authority's remarkable leadership and with the expert oversight of its project team, including the architects at H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, the pier has been rehabilitated and made ready for new and exciting uses. The project included extensive foundation repairs, exterior restoration, and interior renovations combined with the installation of new floors, an elevator and staircase, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. The completed work sets the stage for the next phase of the project. The authority has executed a lease agreement that will allow the building to be renovated, with the help of the federal historic preservation tax credit program, for restaurant and special event use, infusing this prominent landmark with new life and vitality. The authority has also transformed the pier's riverfront deck into a spectacular public promenade, providing local residents and visitors access to one of lower Manhattan's most scenic vantage points.

Rochester Free Academy, 13 South Fitzhugh Street, Rochester

The rehabilitation of the Rochester Free Academy building in downtown Rochester by George Traikos and his company, Fitzhugh Associates, has transformed a vacant and deteriorated historic property into a vibrant commercial and residential complex. Built in the early 1870s as the city's first high school, the academy is a particularly fine example of High Victorian Gothic architecture. This remarkable rehabilitation project, which was assisted by the federal historic preservation tax credit program, has not only returned one of Rochester's architectural gems to active use, but also represents significant private investment in revitalizing and rejuvenating the core of the city's central business district. This high profile project promises to infuse new life and vitality into the surrounding neighborhood as well as stimulate further local redevelopment efforts. The award honors Mr. Traikos and his project team for revitalizing this distinctive local landmark for contemporary use.

Williamsburgh Savings Bank, 175 Broadway, Brooklyn

Built between 1870 and 1875, this well-known local landmark was designed by renowned New York City architect George B. Post in the grand Beaux Arts style and preserves one of the most monumental public spaces in New York City from the post-Civil War era. The soaring banking hall is a work of art, featuring rich materials, exquisite decoration, and the intricately painted interior of the building's cast iron dome, which rises 110 feet above the floor. The award recognizes the outstanding vision, commitment and hard work of property owner and developer Juan Figuero, who has transformed the vacant and deteriorated landmark into a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind venue for special events. The multi-million dollar rehabilitation project, which combined private funds with federal historic preservation tax credits, included essential repairs as well as extensive restoration work. A small army of preservation experts and traditional crafts people worked together to return the building to its original grandeur—and the results are very impressive. The bank building's rebirth is extraordinary and promises to stimulate revitalization efforts in the surrounding community.

Rock Island Lighthouse State Park, Fisher's Landing, Thousand Islands Region

The first lighthouse on Rock Island was built in 1847 to help guide ships traveling through a narrow section of the St. Lawrence River. In the 1880s, a new iron lighthouse was constructed at the center of the island and a new keeper's house was built. During the early 20th century, the tower was relocated to the water's edge to improve visibility. The station closed in the 1950s after more than a century of service. In the 1970s, the property was transferred to the Thousand Islands State Parks Region and listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. During the 1980s, area residents Manny and Vicki Jerome led a local volunteer effort to maintain the lighthouse and, later, the Rock Island Lighthouse Historical and Memorial Association was established to help to preserve the property. This year, the Thousand Islands State Parks Region completed a comprehensive rehabilitation of the complex. The keeper's house has been restored; its main floor features exhibits and the second floor has been refurbished for special events. The Rock Island Lighthouse State Park fully opened in June and a new Friends of Rock Island Lighthouse was established. The award recognizes all those involved in this remarkable project, including Manny and Vicki Jerome; Mark Wentling of the Rock Island Lighthouse Historical and Memorial Association; and Kevin Kieff, Regional Director of the Thousand Islands State Parks Region, and his dedicated staff, for their commitment to returning the lighthouse complex to its former glory and making it accessible to the public.

Note: photos are available upon request or visit NYS Parks Photo Gallery.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.