2012 Grassroots Awards
22nd Annual Preservation Party and 13th Annual Grassroots Awards!
The Historic Districts Council holds a yearly event to honor those who have been especially influential in the preservation world. The Grassroots Awards are given to those who have worked tirelessly for their neighborhoods; by gaining recognition and protection for New York’s historic buildings.
•To view pictures from the even go out 2012 Grassroots photo page.
This year’s award winners are:
The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn will be honored for its long-time historic preservation efforts in maintaining and restoring its remarkable buildings, grounds and memorials. Founded in 1838 and encompassing 478 acres, the cemetery is one of America’s premier examples of rural cemetery design. Over the past several years, the cemetery has increased its preservation activities through public education programs, restoration projects for monuments, sponsoring a successful designation as a National Historic Landmark and most recently, acquiring the endangered Weir-McGovern Greenhouse, across from Green-Wood’s main entrance. The building was built in 1895 and is the only surviving Victorian-era commercial greenhouse in New York City. The greenhouse was designated a New York City landmark in 1982 but had fallen into grave disrepair over the years. Under the leadership of Green-Wood’s president, Richard Moylan, the cemetery purchased the greenhouse in 2012 and is committed to restoring it to its full glory and to readying it for its new role as Green-Wood’s visitor center. Much work remains to be done but the future of this unique New York City landmark is now assured.
•Parkway Village Historical Society
Parkway Village, in Kew Gardens, Queens, is a 34-acre residential complex of neo-Georgian design attached houses located in beautiful landscaped surroundings. The complex was built in the late 1940s to house United Nations personnel, and was home to such notable people as Ralph Bunche, Roy Wilkins and Betty Friedan. The Parkway Village Historical Society has recently completed a successful campaign to list the district on both the New York State and the National Registers of Historic Places. Through the efforts of the Historical Society, Parkway Village has gained much deserved recognition for its history and contribution to the heritage of its city, state and country.
•Theodore Grunewald, Founder of the Coalition to Save Manufacturers Hanover Trust
Designed for Manufacturers Hanover Trust by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and completed in 1954, 510 Fifth Avenue is a revered Modernist structure whose exterior was designated a landmark in 1997. As founder of the Coalition to Save Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Theodore Grunewald led the fight to have the building’s interior designated last year and has continued his work through advocacy and legal efforts to ensure that changes to both the interior and exterior are appropriate to the original design. These efforts have restored the famed Harry Bertoia sculptures to the interior, ensured protection of the building’s exterior zoning envelope and resulted in creating a new legal precedent for preservationists to use in protecting important buildings.
Over a very short span of time, the West End Preservation Society (WEPS) has accomplished a great deal. In 2009, WEPS submitted a proposal to the LPC to gain landmark protection for roughly 800 buildings centered along West End Avenue from 70th to 107th Streets. They quickly gained the support of neighborhood residents and elected officials, holding numerous well-attended community meetings to educate neighborhood residents about the importance of landmark designation. Most importantly, they convinced the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move quickly on this threatened area. The LPC voted unanimously in 2010 to place the district extensions on its calendar for public hearings and held packed hearings in 2011 where the testimony was overwhelming positive. The effort currently awaits the LPC designation votes, which are expected shortly, the first one on June 26, 2012.
•Friends From the Media: DNAinfo
DNAinfo, New York’s leading hyper-local news source covering Manhattan’s neighborhoods, is being honored for its role in raising awareness and keeping the public informed about community preservation activity in the city. Its continual in-depth reporting on the status of landmark designations, proposals and developments in historic districts includes the recent announcements of landmark designation for the Barbizon Hotel and Hudson Square Houses, as well as a feature on an innovative historic preservation program for school students in Bayside. In an era where less and less local news is being covered by professional journalists, DNAinfo is swiftly becoming the voice of record for New York City’s neighborhoods.
•Friends In High Places: New York City Council Member Al Vann of Brooklyn’s 36th District
Albert Vann has served his home community for nearly all of his adult life, both as an educator and an elected official. As New York City Council Member for District 36 in Brooklyn, he represents the large and diverse communities of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Councilmember Vann has been an early advocate and leader in the preservation of numerous neighborhoods in his district, including the now designated historic districts of Crown Heights North Phase I (2007), Crown Heights North Phase II (2011) and Alice and Agate Courts (2009). Councilmember Vann was also involved with saving the landmarked brownstone at 329 MacDonough Street in Stuyvesant Heights, which was threatened with demolition in 2009 following a partial building collapse. He has been a strong supporter for the proposed historic district in the Bedford section of Bedford-Stuyvesant (calendared May 2012), the proposed Stuyvesant Heights Extension (public designation hearing August 2011) and Crown Heights North Phase 111 (calendared 2011). Councilmember Vann will definitely leave a legacy of neighborhood preservation in his district to be enjoyed by future generations.
•Mickey Murphy Award for lifetime achievement: Preservationist and cultural leader Susan Henshaw Jones
Susan Henshaw Jones has played a pivotal role in the cultural life of New York City and the preservation of its landmarks for decades. Prior to becoming president and director of the Museum of the City of New York in 2003, she served as the director of the New York Landmarks Conservancy and worked to revitalize the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The latest chapter in her career is assuming the leadership of the South Street Seaport Museum, where she is working to resurrect the institution to its rightful place within the cultural sphere of the Seaport and the city. In a New York Times article, Kate D. Levin, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs stated, “Ms. Jones gets results. She knows how to take history off the walls and make it come alive.” The accomplishments carried out by Ms. Jones have proven this statement to be true.