New York Landmarks Conservancy marks 50th anniversary

The New York Landmarks Conservancy is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Ashley Mastronardi

Nov 13, 2023, 11:31 PM

Updated 190 days ago

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The Bowne House in Flushing, Queens. The south side of Ellis Island.  Fraunces Tavern in Battery Park, which served as headquarters for George Washington - these are just some of the historical sites saved by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. 
This year, it is celebrating their 50th anniversary. 
 “We’ve pumped more than $62 million in buildings and that’s pumped more than $1 billion worth of total preservation projects. We have helped save the buildings and the neighborhoods that really are the heart and soul of New York,” New York Landmarks Conservancy president Peg Breen told News 12 New York. 
Not to be confused with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the conservancy is a nonprofit that accepts donations, but if you want your building landmarked, the conservancy is usually the first stop.  
“Getting a grant from us is like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval that also helps them raise other money,” Breen said.  
She says one of the most notable saves for the conservancy is Ellis Island.  
“We did technical studies of all the buildings, we stabilized one of them ourselves to show the national government it could be done. We led a national campaign to get congressional funding for the island...If we can’t save Ellis Island, then what good are we?" asked Breen.
A 1980s success story is the National Museum of the American Indian in Battery Park – right across from the conservancy’s headquarters.  It’s fittingly located at the base of Broadway. 
“We’re at the foot of Broadway, which follows a Native American trail up the island.  So in a relatively small space if you understand the layers of history that preservation allows to remain.  It really enriches your experience walking around New York,” Breen said.   
The conservancy’s next mission is to save six blocks around Penn Station from being knocked down.  They say buildings in that area are landmark worthy including a gothic inspired church from the 1800s.  They say other historic buildings in the area can be damaged by the construction. 


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