The Preservation League of New York State has announced its annual slate of winners for the 39-year-old Excellence in Historic Preservation Awards program. The initiative works to celebrate the best practices in the field of preservation, highlighting groups and individuals whose efforts protect the “shared cultural heritage [that] grounds us and unites us.”
“[The 2023 Excellence Award winners] represent how historic preservation addresses critical issues, from climate action to affordable housing, from spurring economic development to uplifting underrepresented histories,” the Preservation League’s President, Jay DiLorenzo, said in a statement.
The 2023 awardees are:
Olean's First National Bank & Siegel’s Shoes Revitalization, Olean, Cattaraugus County (cover photo)
Jury description: "The First National Bank of Olean and the adjacent former Siegel’s Shoes building have been revitalized to provide much-needed high-quality housing, office, and commercial space in downtown Olean. Vacant for more than two decades, the city’s Urban Renewal Agency worked hard to find a path forward, which included historic district designation to allow for the use of Historic Tax Credits. The rehabilitation of these historic spaces was led by preservation architect Elise Johnson-Schmidt and developer Savarino Companies."
Nash Lofts, Buffalo, Erie County
Jury description: "The Nash Lofts building sits at a prominent place in the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. Constructed as four separate buildings that are now connected, this adaptive reuse project tackled challenging logistical issues and found creative solutions — including utilizing a former vehicle ramp within a tiered residential unit. In addition to creating high quality apartments, the Nash Lofts house commercial space on the first floor and will provide free office space to the local NAACP branch in perpetuity, just steps from where the organization first began."Claudette Brady, Brooklyn, Kings County
Jury description: "Claudette Brady has been a staunch advocate for her Brooklyn community for decades. Spearheading the campaign for historic district designation of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Claudette rallied her neighbors and made historic preservation meaningful for the people of the neighborhood. In the years since that successful campaign, Claudette has continued advocating for historic preservation, uplifting the history of traditionally underrepresented people, and centering them in the conversation about what we preserve and for whom."
Bridge to Crafts Careers Program, Brooklyn and the Bronx
Jury description: "A partnership between World Monuments Fund, Woodlawn Cemetery, and Green-Wood Cemetery, the Bridge to Crafts Careers program (B2CC) was established to offer underserved youth in the New York City area hands-on technical training with the opportunity for placement in a stable career. The program launched first at Woodlawn in 2015 and expanded to Green-Wood in 2018. To date, 479 B2CC interns have completed over 140,000 training hours, enabling them to secure positions in trades unions, architectural arts studios, and construction-related fields. B2CC provides a valuable service by contributing to the quality of skilled historic trades workers and setting the standard for cultural heritage stewardship. This program ensures that the unique identities and range of typologies, materials, and histories of tens of thousands of cultural resources are cared for by a new generation of emerging tradespeople."
Bent’s Opera House, Medina, Orleans County
Jury description: "Built over 150 years ago, Bent's Opera House once hosted speakers like Frederick Douglass and entertainers like Buffalo Bill Cody. After the theater closed, the building served the community in a variety of ways until the 1990s. Bent’s was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995, but by 2010 it was abandoned and in imminent danger of collapsing. Local developers Talis Equity had a vision to give Bent's new life. They collaborated with LeChase Construction Services and Kideney Architects to rehabilitate the historic building into a modern destination."
Julie Nucci, Owego, Tioga County
Jury description: "After her historic Owego home flooded in 2011, Julie Nucci embarked on a years-long project to elevate her house. It is the first National Register-listed home in NYS elevated for flood mitigation and is included in the Secretary’s Guidelines on Flood Adaptation for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to advocate for people and communities impacted by climate change by promoting resiliency and disaster preparedness. She recently formed J. Nucci Consulting, LLC and is working with the National Hazard Mitigation Association and FEMA on engagement and resilience strategies for under-served communities. Many historic communities are located along waterways, from coastal cities to canalside towns. And many of those places, across the state and country, are under-served — just like her Village of Owego, NY."
The Rehabilitation of Pier 57, New York, New York County
Jury description: "Beginning with the listing of the pier on the State and National Register of Historic Place in 2004, through the completion of construction in 2022, the rebirth and reimagining of Pier 57 is the result of a partnership between the Hudson River Park Trust, RXR, Young Woo & Associates, and the pier's tenants, Google, City Winery, Jamestown, and the James Beard Foundation. Together, this group along with their consultants, blended long-term stewardship, sensitive restoration treatments, and design excellence to arrive at an adaptive reuse project that integrates the pier into Hudson River Park and includes a new public rooftop park, commercial office space, a performance venue, a food market, and environmental tech classrooms and community spaces."
Kingston City Land Bank, Kingston, Ulster County
Jury description: "In 2018, the Kingston City Land Bank was formed to return long-vacant tax-foreclosed properties to the tax rolls. In a city with a relatively low foreclosure rate, high property values, and a pressing need for affordable housing, rehabbing single-family homes into affordable first-time homeownership opportunities quickly became a top priority. KCLB created a new model for how affordable housing can be produced. Their mission is to foster an equitable community where vacant or distressed properties are transformed into community assets that improve the quality of life for Kingston residents, stabilize and enhance neighborhoods, and create new pathways for social and economic development."
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