Friday, 15 January 2010 00:00
(Submitted by the Garden City Historical Society.)
Recognizing the need for support for the protection and reuse of historic resources and building on other state and national models, the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA) launched its inaugural program, Long Island’s List of Endangered Historic Sites for 2010. In late December 2009, SPLIA announced the names of its first five sites, all threatened by adverse conditions that result from a variety of complex issues.
The Garden City Historical Society is proud to tell the Garden City community that as a result of its nomination in the competitive process, St. Paul’s School has been selected by SPLIA to be among the first sites this regional preservation group has deemed “endangered.”
“The inclusion of St. Paul’s to SPLIA’s list makes it clear that the building is not only an important part of Garden City’s history, but also a significant regional architectural, cultural and historic asset,” remarks Brian Pinnola, president of The Garden City Historical Society. “The announcement brings increased attention to this striking property, which the Village of Garden City already acknowledges by illuminating it nightly so passersby can enjoy the spectacular sight. We’re convinced more and more residents are aware of and agreeable with the Historical Society’s position opposing demolition.”
SPLIA’s press release announcing the selections states: Whether an outright plan for demolition, a lack of appreciation for historic value, or the inability to develop and implement long-range planning, each of the selected sites points to the need for improved outreach, education, coordination and regionwide support for the protection and reuse of historic resources.
In its presentation to the press, SPLIA defines St. Paul’s as follows:
St. Paul’s School (1879), Garden City
National Register listed; Named as one of the Preservation League of New York State’s 2003 “Seven to Save”; Nominated for the Long Island Endangered List by The Garden City Historical Society.
Designed by E. H. Harris, and built as a memorial to Garden City founder, Alexander T. Stewart by his wife Cornelia, the Gothic Revival St. Paul’s School has been the subject of much community strife since it was purchased by the village in 1993. Vacant ever since, several redevelopment proposals have emerged over the years, but Village Trustees have failed to take a solid leadership role in developing a community approved reuse plan. Now seeking demolition, the village is currently preparing an EIS (Environmental Impact Study as per the SEQRA process) to establish that no alternatives can be found. For the first time, the building will not be heated during the winter. St. Paul’s School is one of the most substantial historic buildings on Long Island and it is now one of the most threatened. Issues raised by this nomination: the need for government leadership to work with the community in developing reuse plan for historic properties in public ownership. A save would involve the community voting “no” on the allocation of funds for demolition followed by the development of a real plan for the building’s rehabilitation and reuse.
SPLIA’s other four selections for its 2010 Endangered Historic Sites List include:
The Helen Prybil Estate, Bogheid (1938), Glen Cove
The Booker T. Washington House (late 19th cent.), Fort Salonga, Huntington
The Canoe Place Inn (1922), Hampton Bays, Southampton
Sayer Barn (1739), Southampton Historical Museum, Southampton
During the past seven months, The Garden City Historical Society has held two St. Paul’s Forums at Cluett Hall in order to raise awareness about our community’s historic building and the threat of demolition that is being imposed by the Village, which has authorized the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to ascertain the impacts of such demolition. The Historical Society has presented speakers from the Preservation League of New York State, the National Trust, SPLIA, the Town of Hempstead Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Roslyn Landmarks Society, financial representative of Morgan-Keegan, and a LEED-certified (green building/adaptive reuse) architect and member of the AIA to address various issues. To date, the Village of Garden City has not presented the Draft EIS to the community or announced when it will be ready for public comment.