The New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended adding 13 properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places and submitting one request to the Columbia Turnpike East Toll House to the National Park Service.
The nominations include a key site associated with Rochester‘s LGBTQ+ history, a historic synagogue in Manhattan‘s Upper West Side, a public park in Ithaca, a church connected to Yonkers’s civil rights history, a re-built Lustron House in Erie County, the Oneida County History Center, and more.
The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archaeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are more than 120,000 historic properties throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities, and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.
State and National Register listing can assist owners in revitalizing properties, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.
New York State continues to lead the nation in use of Historic Tax Credits, with $4.5 billion in total rehabilitation costs from 2017-2021. Since 2011, the Historic Tax Credit program has included over $12 billion in project expenditures in New York State. According to a National Park Service report, between 2017-2021 the credits in New York State generated 69,769 jobs and generated over $1.3 billion in local, state, and federal taxes.
Once recommendations are approved by the State Historic Preservation Officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register. More information about the process is available on the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.
Columbia Turnpike East Toll House, Columbia County – The Columbia Turnpike East Toll House, located on the north side of State Route 23 in the Town of Hillsdale, is a rare and significant surviving building from New York State’s turnpike era. The former Columbia Turnpike was an overland route between western Massachusetts and the Hudson River at Hudson, New York, that was active between 1799 and 1906. The wood-framed toll house was built to serve as a toll keeper’s house and, until 1906, the building was fronted by a toll gate which could be raised and lowered to restrict movement of road traffic. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 and the amendment proposes moving the building thirty feet to protect the building from traffic and road hazards. The board reviewed and approved the new location as similar in character to the original site. The move, which is spearheaded by the Friends of East Gate, would include and retain the building’s original features, orientation, and historic interrelationship with the road.
Oak Hill Country Club, Monroe County – The Oak Hill County Club in the town of Pittsford was developed in 1924-26 with two eighteen-hole golf courses flanking a large Tudor Revival style clubhouse. Both courses were designed by early twentieth century master golf course designer Donald Ross and are fine examples of Ross’s work, which was characterized by a naturalistic approach. He employed the slopes of the rolling former farmland to lay out long fairways with subtly contoured greens, providing open approaches flanked by bunkers strategically guarding the greens from the front and sides. The courses were later enhanced with a progressive tree program, led by members, which added additional challenges through extensive and strategic tree plantings. Although the east course was altered several times to adapt it to contemporary golf standards, it was recently restored to closely match the original design. The west course remains almost completely intact to Ross’s design. The sprawling Tudor Revival clubhouse was constructed in 1929 to the design of a local firm, Thompson, Homes and Converse, and is an excellent and highly intact example of its type.
Todd Union, Monroe County – Todd Union is a Georgian Revival style building located on the University of Rochester‘s River Campus in the City of Rochester. Constructed in 1930 and named after prominent Rochester businessman and campus advocate George W. Todd, the building was designed by Rochester architects Gordon and Kaelber. Its construction reflected its role as an activity hub and included dining, social, shopping, barber, game, and club facilities for students. Todd Union has an early and significant association with the University of Rochester’s Gay Liberation Front (UR GLF), an organization that worked to advance the gay liberation movement on campus and in the city of Rochester. Based in an office in Todd Union, the UR GLF gathered and shared resources, organized programs and advocacy events, planned special activities, produced early editions of The Empty Closet newspaper, and created community. The UR GLF is considered to be the origin of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and activism in the Rochester area, and Todd Union was a crucial social space that bridged the gap between students and community members, which helped establish a thriving and visible LGBTQ+ community in the city and surrounding areas.
York Hall, Suffolk County – Located on the grounds of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center (KPPC) and now within the bounds of the Nissequogue River State Park in the hamlet of Kings Park, York Hall is a Colonial Revival-style theater building designed by the New York State architect’s office and built in the early 1930s. It was a flexible, mixed-use facility that could accommodate a wide range of hospital and community activities, including theatrical productions, music, movies; basketball and other recreational sports; dinners; religious services; patient performances, exhibitions, and art sales; and more. It served as a site that linked the hospital with the community and played a central role in the lives of the staff and patient population.
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Westchester County – The former Westminster Presbyterian Church, now Messiah Baptist Church, is located in the City of Yonkers. Originally constructed in 1880 and based on designs by New York City-based church architect Lawrence B. Valk, the building is a robust example of a late-nineteenth-century Gothic Revival Protestant auditorium church. In 1965, the building was sold to the Messiah Baptist Church, the oldest Black church congregation in Westchester County. The church has played a central role in both the Yonkers and Westchester County Black community since the late nineteenth century and has been a regional focal point for the civil rights movement. In 1965, the church hosted a Negro American Labor Council rally, with speeches by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Phillip Randolph of the Negro American Labor Council, and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality. Between 1988 and 1990, under the leadership of the Rev. Darryl George, Messiah Baptist Church was a primary base for initiating and organizing the high-profile desegregation movement in Yonkers.
Tioronda Estate-Craig House Historic District, Dutchess County – Located in the City of Beacon and the Town of Fishkill, the core of the sixty-nine-acre property is Tioronda the mid-nineteenth century estate of Joseph and Eliza Woolsey Howland, which includes a Gothic Revival main house with Colonial Revival and English Cottage additions and outbuildings set in a picturesque, designed setting. The estate buildings were designed by architects Frederick Clarke Withers and Richard Morris Hunt for the Howlands, including Howland’s sister Catharine, who married Hunt in 1861. The landscape design was the work of horticulturalist Henry Winthrop Sargent, a protégé and patron of Andrew Jackson Downing. In 1915, the estate was purchased by Doctors Clarence Jonathan Slocum and Robert Lamb and became the Craig House Sanitarium, a privately owned institution that advocated the moral treatment approach to mental health care. Dr. Slocum, a leading practitioner of moral treatment, incorporated all of the features of the rural country house and picturesque landscape into the hospital, which relied on individualized treatment in beautiful natural settings. By the 1950s, medicinal treatment of mental health began to render facilities such as Craig House obsolete.
The Beeches Historic District, Oneida County – The Beeches is a large and sophisticated early twentieth century country estate in the City of Rome. The buildings and grounds were designed between 1916 and 1949 for the family of Frank Potter, a local inventor and businessman, and include six Tudor Revival stone buildings, a historic concrete pool, and two stone gate structures. The landscape features woodlands and a sloping, open lawn, with a winding driveway that unites buildings at the top and bottom of the hill. The Beeches is also significant for its contributions to the economic history of Rome, especially for its association with the Destito family, which purchased The Beeches in 1949 and developed it into a regionally significant restaurant and motel complex. By adding overnight accommodations, such as a Georgian Revival style motel, and activities such as golf and swimming, they expanded the appeal of the restaurant to attract regional tourists, taking advantage of their proximity to the new Griffiss Air Force Base, the recently completed New York State Thruway, and attractions such as the Adirondack Mountains, Vernon Downs Raceway, and shopping outlets. This, combined with the boom in post-World War II tourism, made their businesses successful, popular, and enduring, boosting the regional economy into the twenty-first century.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Oneida County – Originally built in the City of Utica in 1914, the former First Church of Christ, Scientist, was designed by Utica architectural firm, Agne, Rushmer & Jennison. It is a highly intact and characteristic example of Classical Revival architectural design and it embodies the simple, rational beliefs promoted by contemporary Christian Science churches. It is currently owned by the Oneida County Historical Society and is known as the Oneida County History Center.
New York City
English Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Kings County – Located in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of East New York in Brooklyn, the 1908 brick and terra-cotta church was designed by New York-based architects William P. Bannister and Richard M. Schell, whose firm specialized in ecclesiastic buildings. The English Gothic Revival style church was distinct among Lutheran denominations in Brooklyn at the time of its construction, and the choice to break with traditional German church architectural styles seems to reflect the congregation’s decision to aid church members wishing to assimilate into the neighborhood’s mainstream, English-speaking culture – namely, by incorporating English into worship services and educational programs. Sold by the Metropolitan New York Synod in 2016, the building is now known as the “Citadel Cathedral of Praise and Worship” and serves an active Pentecostal congregation.
Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District, Kings County – Located in the heart of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District encompasses almost 800 contributing resources. The development history of this district was separate from the Lefferts Manor Historic District (NRHP 1992) and the Lefferts Manor Historic District Boundary Increase (NRHP 2017) and, as such, it is being recognized as its own historic district. For instance, restrictive covenants on properties in the Lefferts Manor Historic District and Boundary Increase gave that area a very distinct style, whereas the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District evolved more organically. Between the 1890s and 1930s, many prolific Brooklyn builders and architects incorporated popular urban architectural styles into their designs for the district’s row houses, apartment buildings, and mixed-use buildings, including Tudor Revival, Neoclassical, and Art Deco styles.
Temple Israel of the City of New York, New York County – Now Young Israel of the West Side, this historic synagogue in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan includes a three-story sanctuary space and an attached four-story community building. Designed by architect William Tachau and built in 1922, it is an example of early twentieth-century American synagogue design with its Classical Revival style and incorporation of both worship and community gathering spaces. This “synagogue-center” concept was a distinctly American synagogue-type and provided spaces for Jewish congregations to offer religious worship, education, and socialization for their communities. The construction of the synagogue coincided with the relocation of many Jewish residents from Harlem to the Upper West Side, as housing stock and demographic shifts were happening in the city post-World War I. Today, the building continues to serve as a home for both Jewish and secular spaces for the Upper West Side neighborhood community.
Prattsburgh Commercial Historic District, Steuben County – The Prattsburgh Commercial Historic District represents nearly the entire commercial history of the small hamlet of Prattsburgh between the 1870s and today. The district is a continuous row of eight mixed-use brick and concrete buildings featuring Italianate and Neoclassical style embellishments that was constructed between ca. 1874 and ca. 1913. In addition, the district includes a group of five buildings that were built as associated warehouses, shops, and stables and are closely related in period and function to the main business district. As a distinct collection within the village, these commercial buildings showcase the styles typical of commercial architecture of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in western New York.
Stewart Park, Tompkins County – Stewart Park, owned by the City of Ithaca, has been a recreational park enjoyed by generations of Ithaca’s residents. The park’s landscape reflects the evolution of Ithaca’s public recreational resources, which can be seen in the park’s collection of features and amenities. There are five visually distinct areas within four historic parcels, all of which were developed from the late 1800s through the 1950s: Renwick Park, Cascadilla Athletic Grounds, Fuertes Bird Sanctuary, Renwick Wildwood, and Newman Golf Course. Once owned or leased by various entities that impacted their development – the Renwick family; the Cascadilla School; the Cayuga Lake Division of the Ithaca Street Railway; the film studio Wharton, Inc. – by 1921 the City of Ithaca had acquired all of the separate parcels and opened Stewart Park for free public use in 1923. The park retains several buildings and structures that are unusual surviving examples of their types with a high degree of architectural integrity that help illustrate styles chosen for their uses, including a boathouse, pavilions, tennis courts, platforms, a carousel, foot bridges, play spaces, gateways, a tea house, and more.
Western New York
Lustron House Westchester Deluxe Model M02 #01310, Erie County – Lustron House Westchester Model M02 #01310, located in the Town of Eden, is an excellent, intact example of a Lustron pre-manufactured house with an intact coordinating model G-1 Lustron garage. Both are remarkable examples of the increasingly rare type of pre-fabricated, mass-produced housing made by the Lustron Corporation during its brief existence after World War II. Immediately recognizable by their enameled steel panels, Lustron houses represent innovation that was spurred by post-war housing shortages and was made possible by advancements in industrialization. Lustron houses were marketed as being able to be packed, shipped, and assembled anywhere across the country but, despite their fanfare, less than 2,700 houses were produced from 1946-1950. This Westchester Deluxe Model and garage were originally built in Westfield in Chautauqua County in 1949/1950, and in 2017 they were meticulously deconstructed using the original company assembly directions as a guide and later reconstructed on a new foundation in Eden in 2018.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 79.5 million visits in 2022. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit their website, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call (518) 474-0456.
Photo: An information table set up by the Gay Liberation Front on the University of Rochester’s Eastman Quadrangle in 1970 (Photo by Anthony Boccaccio).