Celebrating Staten Island and Honoring BBB

June 03, 2015

BBB was honored yesterday at the Historic House Trust of New York City’s 2015 Founders Award Dinner for our work on Staten Island. More than 300 guests attended the gala event, which celebrated historic homes on Staten Island and benefits the Trust’s ongoing preservation, education and restoration efforts for its collection of 23 historic houses in all five boroughs.

Staten Island cultural icon and advocate Alice Diamond, a founder and director of the Historic House Trust was also honored at last night’s event held at the historic Metropolitan Club.

From Left: NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver; John Gustafsson, Board Chair of the Historic House Trust; honoree Alice Diamond; Franklin D. Vangnone, Executive Director of the Historic House Trust and BBB’s Richard Southwick.

The evening focused on four Island sites: the Alice Austen House, the Conference House, Historic Richmond Town and Seguine Mansion. The landmark Alice Austen House, originally built in the 1690s/early 1700s, once belonged to the family of Alice Austen, pioneer photographer of the nineteenth century. With the aid of over 600 Austen photographs, BBB led an exterior restoration program that was completed in 1984 and returned the 300-year-old cottage from a dangerous state of disrepair to its pristine Gothic Revival Style—exactly as it looked after it was “modernized” in 1845. The house now serves as a museum and a study center.

On Staten Island, BBB also worked on other significant sites, including the Staten Island Botanical Garden, Seaview/Farm Colony, and the Vanderbilt Mausoleum.

The gala event at the Metropolitan Club

Richard Southwick accepting a large ceremonial key to commemorate the evening

Richard Southwick, director of Historic Preservation, gave the following remarks as he accepted the award on behalf of BBB:

“Beyer Blinder Belle has been privileged to work all around the world, from the eastern plains of Africa, to Moscow and Budapest, from old European cities like Antwerp and as far afield as Shanghai and New Delhi, India.

But our roots are, and have always been in New York City. Founded in the late 1960s, we cut our teeth on rehabbing old brownstones in Harlem and the Bronx. We have prided ourselves on being the hands-on architectural firm that can only really happen when working in our own backyard. From these early J-51 projects to more notable sites such as Grand Central Terminal, South Street Seaport, Brooklyn Navy Yard and New York City Hall, we are very glad to be able to contribute to the fabric of this great City.

One of our earliest preservation projects was the restoration of the Alice Austen House in the late 1970s. I am glad to say that we have been able to continue our involvement with this landmark through our volunteer efforts with the Historic House Trust. We have a similar relationship with the spectacular Vanderbilt Mausoleum, through the committed involvement of my partner Frank Prial. We have enjoyed our long-term relationships with New York City Parks and the Historic House Trust, we understand that the protection of our cultural heritage must be an enduring commitment and we look forward to continue our work to help sustain New York’s architectural legacy.”

BBB’s Kett Murphy, Bill Ladley, and Richard Metsky

BBB’s Kate Lemos McHale and Lauren Cawse

Alice Austen House & Grounds, Staten Island, NY