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Winners named for NY Preservation Awards.

Winners named for NY Preservation Awards

The High Bridge Water Tower and the former Tweed Courthouse were among the winners of an annual competition for outstanding building restorations in New York City co-hosted by the Municipal Art Society and Williams Real Estate Co. Inc., called the New York Preservation Awards.

This was the first time an award was given in the Government Buildings category. Generally, awards are given for restorations in the commercial, residential and non-profit institutional categories.

"We felt that the city has led some excellent restoration efforts of its historic properties, and that it was time to recognize the city for its achievements," said Jerome M. Cohen, chairman, chief executive officer, and president of Williams, at the awards reception at the Municipal Art Society's Urban Center.

Also winning awards were 777 Madison Avenue and 2 Rutherford Place in the residential category; the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in the non-profit category; and 111-115 Broadway in the commercial category.

The High Bridge Water Tower, a medieval-looking structure atop a cliff in Washington Heights in Highbridge Park, located at West 173rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, was built in 1872. The 200-foot, octagonal granite tower supplied water to upper Manhattan until 1949, when it was removed from service. Its copper belfry was destroyed by a fire in 1984. A new, 2,000-pound copper belfry was handcrafted in Kentucky, transported to New York by a flatbed truck, and hoisted atop the tower.

The restoration, which was done by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the William A. Hall Partnership, also involved the removal of deteriorated stone and the installation of a new musical carillon.

777 Madison Avenue is a magnificently detailed neo-French Renaissance building which is regarded as one of the finest early apartment houses of the 20th century. Built in 1906-08, the 10-story co-op at East 66th Street, a City landmark, features a distinctive corner tower with rich Gothic ornamentation, and is considered one of the best works of architects Harde and Short. The restoration included massive duplication of broken and missing terra cotta pieces, repair of the cornice and of damaged architectural details, and fabrication of steel anchoring systems for the stonework. The general contractor was Cole Restoration Corporation and the engineer was Vincent Stramandinoli & Associates.

The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, a Gothic Revival structure built in 1875, had experienced extensive deterioration over the years, with chunks of stone and cement patches falling from its facade. A coating of stucco applied during the 1960's had also begun to deteriorate. With the help of Cathedral Stoneworks and architect Swanke Hayden Connell, the coating was removed by hand, and the original brownstone -- found to be in surprisingly sound condition -- was retooled and recarved. A new copper spire with keyhole-like ornamentation was built to top the North tower, replacing the original, which was removed in the early 1900's. The spire was built by the same French firm which worked on the Statue of Liberty restoration, Les Metalliers Champenois.

The Trinity Building and U.S. Realty Building, two Gothic office towers at 111-115 Broadway completed in 1906, were hailed at the time as the most expensive and up-to-date office buildings in New York Rich in elaborate detail, the 21-story buildings endured neglect and extensive unsympathetic modernization in their history. The restoration of these City landmarks involved replacement of missing limestone on the facades, new arched masonry openings, and new storefronts which matched the original designs. A new entrance on Trinity Place was also designed, which includes a double lobby and stained glass windows. Inside, the richly ornamented stencilled and painted ceilings were restored, exterior and interior lobbies were refurbished and relit, and original bronze elevator surrounds were refinished. Swanke Hayden Connell was the architect.

A Special Merit award in the residential category was given to 2 Rutherford Place. Built in 1853 as a private home, this building housed soldiers in the 1860's, became a monastery in the 1920's and a dinner theater in the 1960's, before it was purchased by its current owners in the late 1980's. Its facade, which was redesigned in 1907 in Beaux Arts style, was cracked and marred by water damage. Its cornice and all lintels and eyebrows surrounding its windows had been removed, and a charming frieze of cherubs and garlands topping a row of windows had deteriorated. Its owners, Albert and Marjorie Scardino, and Edson Construction Company restored the facade, added a Beaux Arts style cornice and window ornamentation, and built a balustrade topped by planters in place of what had been a solid stone wall.

The former Tweed Courthouse at 52 Chambers Street received a Special Merit award in the Government Building category. One of the oldest and most prominent civic buildings in New York, 52 Chambers is an impressive example of the City's commitment to quality preservation by engaging the best designers and craftsmen sensitive to the needs of its older properties. The restoration of the building, constructed over a 20-year period starting in 1861, included the cleaning of over 10,000 stones in the facade, following over 30 sulphur tests to determine a delicate but effective cleaning solution. A major challenge was the facade's composition of two different calcium carbonates, each of which deteriorated at different rates over time. The architect, selected after a master plan for the restoration was devised by the City's Department of General Services, was Mesick-Cohen-Waite Architects. The contractor was Renewal Arts Contracting Corporation, while Deerpath Construction Corporation conducted the chemical testing.

The New York Preservation Awards competition, now in it's third year, is co-hosted by Williams Real Estate Co., a commercial brokerage, consulting and management firm which represents many older buildings, and the Municipal Art Society. The 1991 awards jury consisted of Cohen of Williams; Kent L. Barwick, president, Municipal Art Society; Gene Norman, president, Harlem Urban Development Corp.; Richard Rosan, senior vice president, Park Tower Realty, and chairman of the Real Estate Board's landmarks committee; Jan Anderson, President of RESTORE, a non-profit group which teaches the art of architectural restoration; and Jean Parker, an architect with Buttrick White & Burtis.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 5, 1991
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