THINGS THAT ARE DUMB: 1883 not long enough ago for Landmarks Commission - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the December 2015 Juniper Berry Magazine

THINGS THAT ARE DUMB: 1883 not long enough ago for Landmarks Commission

St. James Parish Hall 1928 (left), 2000 (top right) & restored version in 2004 & Mary Beth Betts

The Old St. James Parish Hall, located on Broadway in Elmhurst, has much historical significance. Parts of the building date back to 1735! You can read up on it here: http://tinyurl.com/stjameselmhurst. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places and underwent an extensive renovation by the Landmarks Conservancy in 2004 via a state grant. The Landmarks Preservation Commission's Mary Beth Betts (inset photo) responded to a request for landmarking in a letter dated September 22nd: "The current appearance of the exterior of the building is a recreation of the 1883 remodeling, and only the heavy timber frame, rectangular massing and interior paneling and woodwork remain from the colonial era. Due to these alterations, the property will not be recommended to the full commission for further consideration as a NYC landmark." Ms. Betts apparently has not read the landmarks law, which as far as age, states that a building has to be a minimum of 30 years old. An 1883 remodeling should therefore not preclude the building from consideration. She also doesn't understand the difference between a recreation and a restoration. In addition, the LPC has designated several recreations in the past. Two examples would be Fraunces Tavern and the Theodore Roosevelt birthplace, both in Manhattan, and both having been completely demolished and rebuilt in altered styles. If this Elmhurst church isn't worthy of landmarking, then what is? State Senator Avella continues to work on preserving the site.

December 2015 Juniper Berry Magazine

December 2015 Table of Contents