June 6, 2017 Church of the Blessed Sacrament 152 W. 71st Street 7-9pm
Each year Landmark West! celebrates the people, places, and projects that give our community its wonderful character, spirit, and quality of life. This year’s four very special honorees are:
Walter B. Melvin
Look up as you walk any street on the Upper West Side and chances are you’ll see a cornice, gargoyle, column, or window—probably many!—restored by preservation architect Walter B. Melvin. For more than 40 years (since 1975), Walter and his team at Walter B. Melvin Architects, LLC, have provided expert architectural restoration services to owners of more than 1,000 landmarks ranging from rowhouses to apartment buildings to the Queensboro Bridge. A generous, gentlemanly leader in the preservation community, Walter shares his deep knowledge and boundless enthusiasm for the rich detail and authentic workmanship of historic buildings, even as he pioneers innovative restoration techniques. Through his work, he communicates empathy and respect for original design and materials even as he shepherds old buildings into the centuries ahead. Thanks to Walter, the past has a bright future!
P.S. 9 Second Grade Teachers
Each year, LW! works with 75 teachers in Upper West Side schools through our Keeping the Past for the Future youth education program. The second grade teachers of P.S. 9, and their wonderful principal Katherine Witzke, hold a special place in our heart. LW’s educators collaborated with them to adapt our Neighborhood Explorers, Brownstone & Design Detectives, and Neighborhood Poetry programs to take advantage of the school’s home base at the edge of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, including a visit to a local historic firehouse! Together we investigate the landmarks that give our neighborhood its character and special sense of place. Guided by Ms. Garetano, Higgins, Merkelson, Selig, Skog, Taryn, and Vignogna, P.S. 9 students are learning not only the A, B, C’s of design and neighborhood history, but also the skills to become the informed, passionate civic leaders of tomorrow.
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, LLP
Crises often breed remarkable friendships. In early 2015, Upper West Sider David F. Dobbins called LW! utterly outraged by the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s announcement that it would remove nearly 100 sites from its “backlog” calendar of heard but not designated landmarks-in-waiting citywide,including St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and the former IRT Powerhouse (both on LW’s Wish List of landmark designation priorities). Stripped of their protection as landmarks under consideration, these sites would be immediately vulnerable to radical alteration, or worse, demolition. Of Counsel at the New York City law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, Dave did more than vent. Within a week, he and his associate Jordan M. Engelhardt were in the LW! office, discussing plans for a collaboration to push back against the Commission’s de-calendaring campaign. Over the course of two years, Patterson Belknap represented Upper West Side and Harlem preservationists in close collaboration with LW! to defend St. Michael’s, the Harlem YMCA, and other extraordinary places that, because of their efforts, are now official NYC Landmarks!
In memoriam: David F. Dobbins (1928-April 29, 2017)
Central Park West Neighbors Association
You can’t fight City Hall. “The hell we can’t!” responded Central Park West residents Susan Simon, David Murphy, Antonia Rossello, Luis Salazar, and other neighbors who locked arms with LW! in the fight to protect the former First Church of Christ, Scientist, the Carrere & Hastings landmark masterpiece on the corner of West 96th Street, from an outlandish luxury condominium conversion plan. The tenacious campaign to defend the landmark gained strong support from former congregants (led by Pastor Terry Starks of Fresh Start New Beginnings Christian Church), Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Mark Levine, architectural and art scholars, museum curators, preservation organizations, and many fellow New Yorkers concerned about attempts by developers and their lobbyists to abuse the zoning process and profit at the community’s expense. The Central Park West Neighbors Association raised funds to hire attorney Michael Hiller known for his successful work in protecting the New York Public Library and Tribeca Clocktower. Hiller took this grassroots effort over the top for a rare victory at the Board of Standards & Appeals in 2016. The landmark remains at risk, and the Neighbors stand ever vigilant.
Frank Bruni is our host for the evening! An Upper West Sider, Mr. Bruni is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, former chief restaurant critic for the Times from 2004-2009; and author of several books, including “A Meatloaf in Every Oven”.
Click to see many more Unsung Heroes of the Upper West Side!