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NYS Names New State Park for Abolitionist, Suffragist Hudson Valley Native Sojourner Truth

New York State is naming a new state park for 19th century African American abolitionist, suffragist and Hudson Valley native Sojourner Truth (photo: from Womens Hall of Fame, https://www.womenofthehall.org/inductee/sojourner-truth/)

In recognition of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new State Park planned for more than 500 acres of former industrial property along the Hudson River shoreline in Ulster County will be named for 19th century African American abolitionist and suffragist Sojourner Truth. This will be the first State Park in the City of Kingston and the first new State Park to open since July 2019. 

“It is fitting such a magnificent property with its cliffs and Hudson shoreline bears the name of a remarkable woman who started life right here in Ulster County,” Governor Hochul said. “New York is committed to reflecting the diverse stories of its people, such as Sojourner Truth and her message of freedom and equality, that have influenced our state’s inspiring history.” 

Born enslaved in 1797 in Esopus, Ulster County, Isabella “Bomefree” Baumfree freed herself from slavery in 1826 a year before legal enslavement ended in New York. In 1828, she won a lawsuit to regain custody of her son, who had been sold into slavery in the Deep South, marking one of the first legal cases where an African American woman prevailed in court against a white person. 

Following her deeply held religious views she traveled as an itinerant preacher, speaking ‘truth’ to the harsh inequities endured by people of color and women while calling for systemic change. Renaming herself Sojourner Truth, she became one of the nation’s leading voices for abolition and universal suffrage in the mid-19th century. During the Civil War, she recruited men for the Union Army, and worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau, an agency that assisted the newly freed enslaved. After the war, she continued advocating for universal voting rights. Sojourner Truth died in 1883, after African American men had received the vote but with the national adoption of women’s suffrage still four decades away. 

In August 2020, State Parks installed a statue of her at the western entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Highland, Ulster County and dedicated it to the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in a ceremony attended by one of her descendants. 

State Parks partnered with the not-for-profit environmental group Scenic Hudson to protect land for this new park that earlier had been slated for a large-scale private development. Funding for the $13.5 million purchase by State Parks was provided through the state Environmental Protection Fund. About three-quarters of the property is in Kingston, with the balance in Ulster. 

Once the site of cement production, brick making, quarrying, and ice harvesting, the property already includes the Hudson River Brickyard Trail. Part of the Empire State Trail and the Kingston Greenline, this paved trail opened in December 2020 as a project of the city of Kingston, which manages the trail, and Scenic Hudson. It offers spectacular views of the Hudson River and the 150-foot cliffs of limestone and sandstone that drew cement production to the site beginning in the 1840s. 

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said,State Parks is proud to name our newest Park in honor of Sojourner Truth, an early prominent voice in New York and later the nation for abolition and women’s rights. In addition to bringing her story to visitors, this park also will allow for interpretation of the site’s industrial and indigenous history and will help protect the ecology of the Hudson River. The new park will support the ongoing economic revitalization of Kingston and the regional recreational tourism economy. It will benefit the quality of life for residents throughout the year, as well as provide a major new Hudson Valley attraction for users of the Empire State Trail.” 

Palisades Interstate Parks Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird said, “We are thrilled that our newest state park will honor Sojourner Truth and her powerful legacy as an abolitionist and voice for women’s rights. We look forward to telling her story and to interpreting the reclamation of this former industrial site into a beautiful and dramatic landscape overlooking the Hudson River. The Commission wishes to express its gratitude to Governor Hochul, State Parks Commissioner Kulleseid and to Scenic Hudson for their efforts to protect this land.” 

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Scenic Hudson is delighted that Governor Hochul has chosen to celebrate the life and legacy of Sojourner Truth by naming this park after her. Through her courage and forceful voice for justice and equality for all, she set an example that still resonates strongly in this vitally important ongoing cause. We’re grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul and State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid for leading the state’s acquisition of this magnificent property, rich in history and possibility for public enjoyment. Adding this to the New York Park system is truly a visionary step, and we salute their partnership in this conservation action. Scenic Hudson looks forward to continuing our cooperation with State Parks, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, and the Kingston and Ulster community as we turn this former industrial site into an exciting place for all people to connect with the outdoors, the region’s Indigenous and labor heritage, and each other. With its unique combination of natural beauty and history, I have no doubt Sojourner Truth State Park will quickly become one of the region’s premier recreational destinations. We also wish to acknowledge Scenic Hudson’s generous supporters who made possible our acquisition of the property, those who worked with us to save the property from development years ago, and Scenic Hudson Board members and staff for their important roles at every stage of the process.”  

State Parks will install limited parking and hiking trails to provide public access for passive recreation this spring. Until then, except for the Hudson River Brickyard Trail, the property is not open to the public. Scenic Hudson has already conducted a comprehensive study of the property’s ecological, geological, and cultural resources. 

Under an agreement, State Parks, Scenic Hudson, and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission will collaborate and solicit public input on how Sojourner Truth State Park will be developed. Scenic Hudson, which will operate the park under a five-year agreement, has already held public meetings on the topic and more meetings will be announced by the partners in the future.

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill said, “Governor Hochul continues to demonstrate her knowledge, concern and energy on behalf of our area. Today is the latest example. Naming this park for one of the most important people from our community, Sojourner Truth, is fitting and appropriate. It was just several hundred yards up the shoreline, to Sleightsburg and the Rondout Creek where Truth, then known as Isabel Bumford, a young girl, trekked over several miles, every single day, crossing the Creek on a skillypot raft, with provisions for the tavern owned and run by her enslavers. The statue that stands in the center of Port Ewen portrays this young, exploited, but strong and determined teen age girl serves as a stark reminder that our community was not exempt from the horrors of slavery.  Indeed, some of our fore bearers did not even distinguish between adults and children in their exploitation of other human beings. But the naming of this park recognizes all of the greatness of Sojourner Truth and the impact she has had on freedom, demonstrating strength in the face of adversity and inspiring a nation. Let every visitor pause for a moment to take in the beauty of our community and remember this as the home of this important national leader.”

Hudson River Valley Greenway Executive Director Scott Keller said,”Sojourner Truth State Park is an iconic Hudson River property that provides unique recreational, open space, and ecological benefits to New York residents and visitors. Future park improvements will enhance public access created by the Hudson River Brickyard Trail completed last year, which is a critical link in the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Empire State Trail in Kingston and Ulster County.” 

Last summer on the property, abandoned cement silos and two former structures of the cement industry were removed to improve site safety, as well as expand areas for future programming and events. Remaining structures, including the chimney and mule barn dating to the site’s brick-making period, as well as many low-rise structures from the cement industry that are visible from the Hudson River Brickyard Trail, have the potential to be interpreted and integrated into the landscape. Former quarry pits on the property have filled with water, and while not suitable for swimming, support fish populations. 

The site is a part of the traditional homeland of the Esopus tribe of the Lenape, who inhabited the area of Kingston until the 1600s when they were displaced by European colonists. In addition to telling the story of the Esopus, the site will allow for the interpretation of industrial history, geology, the resilience of our natural environment, and the significant role of the Hudson Valley in the development of New York State and the nation. 

Prior to Scenic Hudson’s purchase, the former cement mine and processing facility grounds were destined for development into a 1,682-unit mixed-use site, a project that had drawn significant public concern. 

The Scenic Hudson purchase was made with support of private donors including philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the Walbridge Fund, The PCLB Foundation, the Kathryn W. Davis Fund for Hudson River Parkland Acquisition, Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Will Nixon, Illiana K. van Meeteren, Sue Sie, Steven Holl and Robert Lonergan. 

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails, and boat launches, which were visited by a record 78 million people in 2020. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518.474.0456. 

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NYS Launches ‘Empire State Trail Challenge’ on New 750-Mile Recreation Trail

Set A Goal To Run, Walk, or Bicycle the New 750-Mile Recreation Trail This Spring

Registration Is Now Open Here For Four-Month Challenge

Biking over the Rosendale Trestle, 150 feet above the Rondout Creek, on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, part of the 750-mile New York Empire State Trail network. The Empire State Trail has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” – a four-month virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail.  
© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Empire State Trail has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” – a four-month virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail.  

Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced completion of the Trail, now the nation’s longest multi-use state trail. Following New York’s historic canal systems and rail trails, the new recreational trail spans the state from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, and gives bicyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and others a safe and scenic pathway to experience New York State’s incredibly diverse landscapes.

“The Empire State Trail Challenge brings together two giants of outdoor recreation in New York State – our new 750-mile Empire State Trail and Utica’s classic Boilermaker race,” Governor Cuomo said. “As we continue to come back from the COVID-19 health crisis, the challenge is a great way to show how we can have fun and be New York Tough at the same time. I encourage any interested New Yorkers to participate in this exciting event on our incredible new statewide trail.” 

The Boilermaker organization has held a 15-kilometer running race in Utica since 1978, which has grown into one of the largest 15K races in the country, attracting 10,000 to 15,000 participants annually. With the Boilermaker and most in-person races postponed due to COVID, the virtual Empire State Trail Challenge initiative will engage participants and provide a unique race experience throughout the spring season. 

“Creating opportunities for healthy activity and lifestyles lies at the core of the Boilermaker mission,” Boilermaker Marketing Director Jordan Peters said. “So it was a natural fit to work in concert with New York State to provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to get outside and participate in a safe and healthy endeavor while highlighting the features of the Empire State Trail.”

The Boilermaker Empire State Trail Challenge is a four-month virtual race through July 31. Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling on Friday, April 9. Participants would complete the mileage of at least one leg of the Empire State Trail: either the Hudson Valley Trail: 210 miles (New York City to Albany); the Erie Canalway Trail: 350 miles (Albany to Buffalo); or the Champlain Valley: 190 miles (Albany to Canada Border at Rouses Point). Participants can sign up as teams or individuals. For more information or to register, visit the website.

Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge.

Each entrant would receive a t-shirt with their $25 entrance fee for a single leg of the trail. If interested, participants can register for additional legs at the time of registration or any time during the race period at $5 per leg. Challenge participants will enter their mileage on an online platform over the duration of the race window, reaching milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, and have the ability to share their experiences on social media.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Empire State Trail Challenge is one of the ways we are building back better at our state parks and trails. Our parks and trails have been safe and healthy outlets for everyone during the pandemic. Whether enjoying a fun nature break with friends and family, or truly testing their limits, the Empire State Trail Challenge offers participants of all ages and abilities a rewarding and socially distanced opportunity to enjoy New York’s outdoors.”

“The partnership with the Boilermaker is a great way to introduce the Empire State Trail to those across New York State and the nation who take part in the storied race every year,” Empire State Trail Director Andy Beers said. “The Empire State Trail is an ideal pathway for runners, bicyclists, and walkers to get outside and exercise, while learning about the iconic landscapes, local communities, and historic and cultural attractions along the 750-mile trail. 

Director of the New York State Canal Corporation Brian U. Stratton said, “This exciting new partnership will offer thousands of New Yorkers and Boilermaker runners from around the country a chance to see the very best of our state, encouraging safe and responsible outdoor recreation along the lengths of the Empire State Trail. Governor Cuomo’s ongoing Reimagine the Canals program is based on forward-looking partnerships like this, which bring together communities and New Yorkers to lift up local economies and showcase the exceptional history of the Erie Canal, as well as the tremendous upgrades and new attractions being constructed along its banks.”

“The Empire State Trail is the newest jewel in New York State’s tourism crown and the Challenge is an opportunity to promote the trail to those looking for unique ways to experience the great outdoors,” New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said. “We hope that events like the Empire State Trail Challenge inspire more people to utilize the trail as a centerpiece of a getaway to the many the communities it touches across the state.”

The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information along the 750-mile route including segment descriptions and an on-line map identifying off-road trails connecting on-road sections, trail distances, designated parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions.

See also:

Cycle the Erie 8-Day, 400-Mile Bike Adventure Registration Now Open for Limited 350 Spots

NEW YORK’S EMPIRE STATE TRAIL COMES TOGETHER: BIKING THE WALLKILL VALLEY RAIL TRAIL IN HUDSON VALLEY

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New York State Launches Adopt-a-Trailhead Volunteer Program

Hiking New York’s Adirondacks. NYS has created a new program of trailhead volunteers to assist with the stewardship of trailheads across the state and educate trail users before they enter the backcountry. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York State has launched a new initiative to assist with the stewardship of trailheads across the state and educate trail users before they enter the backcountry. Introduced in the Governor’s 2021 State of the State address, the Adopt-a-Trailhead program is managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and gives the public the opportunity to support State-led efforts to care for state lands and educate fellow visitors on the value of responsible recreation.

“Over this last year, we have seen record numbers of New Yorkers and visitors utilizing our world-class trails and natural areas while seeking a break from the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “As New York remains fully committed to making sustained investments in our natural resources and responsibly increasing opportunities for outdoor recreation on state lands, this new program offers an excellent volunteering opportunity for New Yorkers to help the State ensure our trails are ready for the growing number of hikers and visitors.”

In recent years, particularly in 2020 as New Yorkers eagerly pursued safe outdoor recreation experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, the State has seen an increase in the number of visitors to parks, lands, and trails. Outdoor recreation has been a crucial part of helping New Yorkers stay active, spend time with immediate household and family members, and reduce stress and anxiety. Consistent with the NY Forward phased reopening plan, New Yorkers are encouraged to recreate locally in their region (PDF). Each of the state’s 10 REDC regions have a wide variety of recreational opportunities available for the public to explore and enjoy. While this uptick provides an opportunity for more New Yorkers to explore the state’s scenic natural areas, many of these new users are inexperienced in back-country recreation, leading to mistakes that are potentially harmful to themselves and the environment.  

Adopt-a-Trailhead volunteers will bolster ongoing efforts to eliminate litter problems and educate trail users about hiker preparedness, thus eliminating the amount of trash left at trailheads and encouraging proper disposal of human waste while in the woods. DEC land managers will be identifying trailheads that will benefit most from the new program. Volunteers and DEC will continue to encourage hikers to Hike Smart NY and follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace while hiking. LNT is a set of outdoor ethics developed to educate recreationists on how to best enjoy the outdoors while minimizing their impact. In addition, DEC continues to encourage visitors to the Adirondacks to seek out nearby alternative hikes that provide an experience similar to a High Peaks hike, including great scenic views, but with fewer people.

“New York’s public lands and trails are beloved by thousands of visitors in every corner of the state,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said. ”The new Adopt-a-Trailhead program provides New Yorkers who are committed to caring for public lands with the opportunity to help DEC sustain and maintain these natural assets for future generations, as well as for their own enjoyment.”

Introduced in Governor Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State Address, the Adopt-a-Trailhead program is an initiative to enhance opportunities to encourage outdoor recreation and empower volunteers to help maintain trailheads. Groups interested in volunteering for the program should submit an Adopt-a-Trailhead volunteer application to volunteer.stewardship@dec.ny.gov (emailed applications are preferred) or via mail to: NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests, Attn: Adopt-a-Trailhead Coordinator, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233.

After applications are approved, groups and individuals will be assigned to a trailhead in their area. Participation in the Adopt-a-Trailhead program will include:

  • A series of online training courses focused on LNT principles, visitor interaction, and visitor education; 
  • Virtual meetings with DEC program staff to answer questions and share suggestions;
  • Spending time at assigned trailheads during weekend mornings, including holiday weekends and some Friday afternoons, depending on the location; and
  • Monthly reports highlighting statistics such as number of volunteers that participated and number of hours spent at the trailhead.

“Empowering trail users to enjoy natural areas safely and responsibly is exactly what is needed to help ensure these special places aren’t subject to misuse—accidental or otherwise,” New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Executive Director Joshua Howard said. “The Adopt a Trailhead program will allow more visitors to get the one-on-one guidance and education that we have seen to be so effective through our Trail Steward program on the Catskill summits. We are proud supporters of this initiative and the opportunity it presents to share Leave No Trace principles and best practices with the growing number of new and returning visitors to public lands.”

“ADK greatly supports this new statewide Adopt-a-Trailhead volunteer program,” Executive Director of Adirondack Mountain Club Michael Barrett said. “In-person educators at trailheads are a powerful way to both help visitors enjoy the outdoors responsibly and ignite a passion for taking care of public lands well into the future.”

New Yorkers getting outdoors should use common sense in planning outdoor activities because public facilities like restrooms or other amenities may not be available. Use the DECinfo Locator to find DEC-managed resources and visit DEC’s website for more information. DEC continues to remind outdoor enthusiasts to be SMART when recreating this year:

  • Socially distance at least six feet apart;
  • Mask – Wear one when you cannot maintain social distancing, especially in parking lots and along footpaths;
  • Avoid sharing gear when possible;
  • Respect your fellow anglers and the resource by providing space and practicing ethical angling; and
  • Take out what you bring in or place trash in receptacles.

The AAT program supports DEC’s comprehensive and ongoing efforts to sustainably manage increased visitation to public lands and will provide important information to guide future land management decisions. The program also complements recommendations included in the High Peaks Advisory Group’s final report on promoting sustainable recreation in the Adirondack Park. Comprised of stakeholders with expertise in local government, recreation, natural resource protection, business, and tourism, in 2019 the HPAG was tasked with providing DEC with recommendations on how to address critical issues associated with increased public use of High Peaks resources in order to protect these areas in the short and long term, as well as for future generations. Visit the DEC website to read the report.

For more information on the AAT program, visit DEC’s website here.

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Eleven Projects Receive 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Awards

Historic Hudson Masked Tour: Statewide Historic Preservation Advocacy Organizations were recognized with an Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement award. “2020 was unprecedented in its impacts to communities across New York State. The state’s preservation organizations rose to the challenge of programming during a global pandemic and tumultuous political year. Their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity proved that preservation is imperative to quality of life and will be essential in navigating the path to economic recovery.” (Photo by NYS Parks)

Eleven projects preserving New York State’s history, ranging from an eighteenth-century Dutch barn rehabilitation to an artist installation memorializing black lives at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, have received 2020 State Historic Preservation Awards. 

Created in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are awarded by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation each year to honor excellence in the protection and revitalization of historic and cultural resources. The Governor also signed legislation in 2013 to bolster state use of rehabilitation tax credits, which have spurred billions of dollars in completed investments of historic commercial properties and tens of millions in owner-occupied historic homes.

“The 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Awards help bolster efforts to keep New York’s storied history protected and accessible to all,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.”These historic projects demonstrate the diversity of lived New York experiences since our state’s founding. New York is thankful to the dedicated stewards of each site, who provide invaluable support by devoting countless hours to the protection of historic sites for all to learn from and enjoy.”

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said“The diversity of the projects being recognized demonstrates that preservation begins with passionate local individuals expanding their advocacy into productive partnerships. We are proud to be one of those partners and congratulate all of the individuals and groups for their extraordinary efforts to preserve these historic places.”  

This year’s 2020 State Historic Preservation Awards recipients are:

Binghamton Carnegie Library, Broome County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation 

The former Carnegie Library in downtown Binghamton was transformed into SUNY Broome’s Culinary and Events Center serving the school’s hospitality programs. The $21.5 million dollar rehabilitation project successfully made use to commercial tax credits to revitalize the historic building into a state-of-the art education and event facility. 

Cropsey Barn, New City, Rockland County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation & Conservation 

The Cropsey family has made an extraordinary commitment in the rehabilitation and long-term use of a New York State and National Register listed property. In fear of losing an agricultural site to sprawl, the family transferred ownership of their eighteenth-century barn and land to the county with a restrictive covenant ensuring its agricultural future. Working with a group of traditional trades craftspeople and building conservators, the barn had been fully restored and is now used by the local County Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) association for planting and harvesting organically grown products. 

Holley Gardens, Village of Holley, Orleans County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation

Constructed between 1930 and 1931, the former Holley High had been vacant since 1975.  In 2020, Home Leasing and Edgemere Development completed a dramatic rehabilitation of the building that has created 41 affordable housing units for seniors and new office and meeting space for the village government. The developers utilized both the state Historic Tax Credit and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs to assist with the adaptive reuse.  

Dr. Ferguson’s House, Glens Falls, Warren County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation 

When Dr. Ferguson’s House became threatened with demolition, local preservationists Darren & Lisa Tracy stepped in to rescue it. With careful planning and cooperation, the Tracys rehabilitated the 1870 National Register-listed building using Federal & State Historic Tax Credits for use as an apartment building, thereby saving an important community treasure.

Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House, Clarkstown, Rockland County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation

Constructed between the 1790s and 1870s, and last occupied in the 1930s, the Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House had fallen into disrepair. With the help of town funds, the historic sandstone Dutch house was painstakingly restored and serves as an educational resource in Clarkstown’s Germonds Park.  

Fire Watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, New York City

Excellence in Historic Structure Rehabilitation 

Known to many as the Harlem Fire Watchtower, the 1856 cast iron structure at Marcus Garvey Park is a community landmark owned by the City of New York. Spurred by citizen advocacy, a public-private partnership was established to restore Watchtower, which resulted in sizable contributions from the New York City Council, Mayor, and Borough President’s offices. The resulting rehabilitation preserves an enduring symbol of Harlem’s identity and historic legacy.  

Carnegie Libraries of New York City

Excellence in Historic Documentation  

What began in 2009 as a project by the Historic Districts Council to survey Carnegie Libraries in New York City, culminated in the creation of a Multiple Property Documentation Form that was approved by the National Park Service in September 2020. Establishing the significance of these resources facilitates future listings for these beloved community buildings.

Mary E. Bell House, Center Moriches, Long Island

Excellence in Organizational Achievement  

The restoration and historic registers listing of the Mary E. Bell House preserves a history of black landownership on Long Island during the nineteenth century and documents the central role of women within the Moriches African American community. Constructed in 1872, the home was occupied by the Smith and Bell families for more than 100 years. Owner Mary Bell rose to prominence in the community for her association with the Moriches AME Zion Church. By 2011, the house had fallen into disrepair. The town of Brookhaven acquired the property and a formal agreement with the Ketcham Inn Foundation was entered to restore the building, which now operates as historic site.

Village of Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County 

Excellence in Archeology Stewardship

The Village of Heuvelton unexpectedly discovered several historic burials of the former village “old cemetery” during a water tank and sewer rehabilitation project. Through careful research and coordination with agencies involved, the village successfully and sensitively navigated the challenges of excavating the human remains for further study and re-interment.

Memorial Field for Black Lives, John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Essex County

Excellence in Historic Site Interpretation and Public Engagement

Working with the not-for-profit group John Brown Lives!, Artist Karen Davidson Seward created the Memorial Field for Black Lives as a space to acknowledge the struggle for equality in America in response to the brutal murders of unarmed Black Americans and widespread protests this summer. The exhibit debuted at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, the home and final resting place of an abolitionist who gave his life to end slavery.

Statewide Historic Preservation Advocacy Organizations

Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement 

2020 was unprecedented in its impacts to communities across New York State. The state’s preservation organizations rose to the challenge of programming during a global pandemic and tumultuous political year. Their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity proved that preservation is imperative to quality of life and will be essential in navigating the path to economic recovery.  

New York’s Division for Historic Preservation helps communities identify, evaluate, preserve and revitalize their historic, archeological, and cultural resources. The Division works with governments, the public, and educational and not-for-profit organizations to raise historic preservation awareness, to instill in New Yorkers a sense of pride in the state’s unique history and to encourage heritage tourism and community revitalization.

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