Sacred Sites Program Surveys
In the summer of 2008, the Sacred Sites Program was busy surveying Roman Catholic Churches and Synagogues in Queens, building on earlier religious property surveys in Manhattan and the Bronx. The survey was conducted by a team of three interns with varied and complementary skills: Rosalind Streeter, a graduate student in Historic Preservation and Planning at Columbia University, oversaw written documentation; Yasuyuki Mizushiro, an experienced architect and graduate student in Historic Preservation at Pratt Institute, led photography and field documentation; and Miriam Aranoff, a graduate of Barnard College with a major in Middle Eastern Studies, focused on public archival research, putting her Hebrew fluency to work transcribing and translating synagogue inscriptions.
Our research on Catholic churches is being shared with the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, and our investigation of Brooklyn and Queens synagogues will be the basis for establishing a challenge grant fund for synagogue restoration. Each summer, as funds allow, we will expand our survey until we’ve identified historic religious properties of all denominations throughout the city.
Stay tuned – We will be posting survey data on Catholic churches and synagogues in Brooklyn and Queens soon.
Historic Properties Fund Surveys
Over the years, the Historic Properties Fund has carried out surveys to create new historic districts eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and therefore eligible for Fund loans. This initiative began because property values in neighborhoods traditionally serviced by the Historic Properties Fund, such as Fort Greene in Brooklyn have increased considerably, decreasing the need for Fund assistance. Fund staff identifies new areas for investing its resources – intact blocks of older properties that could be deemed eligible for listing in the State and/or National Registers of Historic Places, the minimal criterion required for Fund assistance. To accomplish this work, Fund staff and graduate interns research, survey, and analyze areas of historic interest and present potential districts to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which then determines the district’s eligibility.
In 2007, Fund research led to determinations of eligibility for the Bradhurst Historic District in Harlem and the Windsor Terrace Historic District in Brooklyn. In 2008, five more areas of Brooklyn were added: Highland Park in Cypress Hills, and four sections of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
In 2009, the Bedford Hill and Nassau Brewery Historic Districts were determined to be eligible. All in all, this survey work has added 2,640 additional properties that qualify for Fund loans.