Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

October 11, 2006

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Wendy Gibson
Catherine Jimenez

New York State Historic Preservation Awards Announced

Kitty Carlisle Hart Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

(Albany, NY, October 11, 2006. . .) New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Bernadette Castro today hosted the 2006 New York State Historic Preservation Awards luncheon at the Seventh Regiment Armory on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. The awards honor excellence in the preservation and revitalization of the state's historic and cultural treasures. The day's events were highlighted by the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to Kitty Carlisle Hart. The occasion was also marked by the unveiling of New York's Historic Armories - An Illustrated History, a new book jointly managed by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA).

"With Governor Pataki's steadfast vision and appreciation for our state's rich heritage, New York continues to champion a variety of preservation initiatives, providing individuals and communities with opportunities and support to protect and enhance local historic resources," said Commissioner Castro, State Historic Preservation Officer. "By honoring the tireless efforts and achievements of Kitty Carlisle Hart along with three exceptional public and private organizations with these awards, we hope to encourage others to take part in the conservation and revitalization of the Empire State's large and diverse collection of cultural treasures."

Commissioner Castro presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Kitty Carlisle Hart for her outstanding contribution to expanding the arts and culture of New York. Since Ms. Hart was first appointed to the position of vice chair of the New York State Council on the Arts, through her tenure as chairwoman until 1996, and now as chairwoman emeritus, the council's programs grew and improved under her thoughtful and thorough oversight, helping to enlarge New York's cultural, artistic, and architectural assets. Ms. Hart has served on the boards of well-respected educational institutions, such as Empire State College and the Center for Arts Education. She is also an honorary trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, and in 1991, Ms. Hart received the National Medal for the Arts from President George Herbert Walker Bush.

The Not-for-Profit Achievement Award was presented to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum for its outstanding contribution to preservation of the nation's heritage, by telling the story of immigrant life in New York and in interpreting this important theme in American history. With its densely built-up streets and remarkably diverse cultural heritage, Manhattan's Lower East Side remains a powerful symbol of the American immigrant experience, offering a tangible and living connection to the settlement and development of New York and the nation. Founded in 1988, the museum conveys information about the lives, living conditions, memories, and aspirations of many of the building's occupants through guided tours. The museum has been designated an Affiliated Area of the National Park Service, with links to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Castle Clinton, and offers various educational opportunities, such as art exhibitions that explore contemporary immigrant issues, school and teacher training programs, and a graduate level Urban Museum Studies program at City College.

The New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs received the Public Sector Achievement Award. DMNA has played an important role in preserving New York State's military history. Among the agency's most prominent preservation efforts was developing a successful program to conserve and protect the state's collection of more than 1,800 historic flags. Prior to this effort, which was undertaken in partnership with the OPRHP, many of the flags, which date from c1809 to the present, were in poor condition. DMNA also helped to establish the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs.

The Private Sector Achievement Award was given to 41 Broad Street, New York City. Located across from the New York Stock Exchange in the heart of lower Manhattan's financial district, 41 Broad Street was built in 1928-29 for the Lee, Higginson and Company Bank, one of the country's top private investment banks during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The company left its new headquarters soon after it was completed and the building served various owners, eventually leading to its decline. With the help of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program, WalWilHal Associates renovated the building for the Claremont Preparatory School. The building was restored and transformed into a modern, fully equipped educational facility.

Previous Historic Preservation Award recipients have included Robert J. Kresse for his role in preserving and renewing some of the Western New York's most significant historic properties, Matthew and Phoebe Bender, for their contributions to historic preservation and community enhancement efforts in the Capital District; Jane Forbes Clarke, for her commitment to safeguarding the heritage of the Otsego Lake area; Lewis Golub, for his role in developing the Saratoga Automobile Museum at Saratoga Spa State Park; and a host of other individuals, organizations, and government offices, such as the Theodore Roosevelt Association, New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Preservation League of New York State, the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

New York's Historic Armories - An Illustrated History offers an overview of the distinguished collection of historic Army National Guard armories throughout New York State. It draws upon information gathered from a survey of historic armories and highlights these prominent yet underused landmarks as well as encouraging public and private rehabilitation and redevelopment efforts. The book, written by Nancy Todd of the State Historic Preservation Field Services Bureau, is the latest example of the strong partnerships that have been forged in the effort to preserve the state's heritage.

"We are grateful to the Division of Military and Naval Affairs and SUNY Press for their valuable participation in the production of New York's Historic Armories - An Illustrated History." Commissioner Castro said. "This book will undoubtedly help increase our awareness of the significance of these structures and preserve their extraordinary legacy here in local communities all across New York State."

As described in the Illustrated History, the Seventh Regiment Armory, where the award ceremony and book signing were held, was constructed on Park Avenue between 1877-1881 and marked a turning point for the state's arsenal and armory building programs. Designed by Charles Clinton with interiors by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Stanford White, its "size, sophistication and prominent location... coupled with New York's most prestigious militia unit, the Seventh Regiment Armory became the prototype for the new building type throughout the state and, ultimately, the nation."

The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which is part of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, helps communities to identify, recognize, and preserve their historic resources, and incorporate them into local improvement and economic development activities. The SHPO administers several programs including the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, state historic preservation grants, the Certified Local Government program, and the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, which are the official lists of properties significant in the history, architecture, and archeology of the state and the nation. There are more than 4,400 State and National Register listings in New York, including over 85,000 historic buildings, structures, and sites.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the New York State Board for Historic Preservation held its 127th board meeting at the Seventh Regiment Armory. The New York State Board for Historic Preservation is an independent panel of experts appointed by the Governor. The Board also consists of representatives from the following state agencies: Council of Parks; Council on the Arts; Department of Education; Department of State and Department of Environmental Conservation. The function of the Board is to advise and provide recommendations on state and federal preservation programs, including the State and National Registers of Historic Places, to the State Preservation Officer, which in New York State is the State Parks Commissioner.