Session Profile: Beyond Stonewall

Recognizing Historic and Cultural Sites in New York State Related to the LGBT Community

The 2016 Statewide Preservation Conference theme is Preservation50: NYS and is all about celebrating our past achievements and planning for the future of historic preservation in New York State. Join us in the Capital Region on May 5-7 as we mark the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Our next session profile focuses on a session that will include a panel discussion on how to recognize historic and cultural sites related to the LGBT community in New York State.

Despite the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community being active as shapers of American culture and as the professional keepers of that heritage, LGBT place-based history in NYS and NYC has not been documented and remains invisible.

Apollo Theater, 125th Street Harlem This world-renowned theater featured nearly every leading African-American performer in a permanent variety show format from the 1930s to the ‘70s, including LGBT icons Alberta Hunter, "Moms" Mabley, Johnny Mathis, Little Richard, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Billy Preston, Carolyn Franklin (Aretha's singer/songwriter sister), Clara Ward, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Marie Knight, James Cleveland, Alex Bradford, and Luther Vandross. In the 1960s, the popular drag show, Jewel Box Revue, was often hosted by its sole woman, lesbian Stormé DeLarverie.

Apollo Theater, 125th Street Harlem
This world-renowned theater featured nearly every leading African-American performer in a permanent variety show format from the 1930s to the ‘70s, including LGBT icons Alberta Hunter, “Moms” Mabley, Johnny Mathis, Little Richard, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Billy Preston, Carolyn Franklin (Aretha’s singer/songwriter sister), Clara Ward, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Marie Knight, James Cleveland, Alex Bradford, and Luther Vandross. In the 1960s, the popular drag show, Jewel Box Revue, was often hosted by its sole woman, lesbian Stormé DeLarverie.

There is a glaring irony in the near-total absence of historic sites of significance to and about the LGBT community. In spite of the historic and cultural contributions of LGBT Americans, only seven of the over 80,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places have been listed for their primary association with LGBT history.

In NYC and NYS, no survey currently exists of sites associated with significant LGBT history. The lack of documentation has prevented effective advocacy, leaving potentially significant sites unappreciated and threatened, and preservation officials at a loss for criteria to evaluate sites for LGBT historic context and significance.

Alice Austin House, Staten Island Pioneering female photographer Alice Austen grew up in her family’s “Clear Comfort” home where she later lived with Gertrude Tate, her partner of 50 years. Austen’s work includes early images of women embracing, in bed together, and dressed in male drag, all of which have since become iconic to the LGBT community.

Alice Austin House, Staten Island
Pioneering female photographer Alice Austen grew up in her family’s “Clear Comfort” home where she later lived with Gertrude Tate, her partner of 50 years. Austen’s work includes early images of women embracing, in bed together, and dressed in male drag, all of which have since become iconic to the LGBT community.

“LGBT history is part of American history and world history, and these sites deserve listing alongside the historic sites representing every other group that contributes to the world’s cultural heritage,” said Andrew Scott Dolkart, co-director of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, Soho The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) became the leading gay liberation organization of the early 1970s and moved into this firehouse in 1970. Before a 1974 arson fire destroyed the interior, the GAA Firehouse served as the LGBT community's first organizational and social center in New York with regularly scheduled dances, performances, and film presentations.

Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse, Soho
The Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) became the leading gay liberation organization of the early 1970s and moved into this firehouse in 1970. Before a 1974 arson fire destroyed the interior, the GAA Firehouse served as the LGBT community’s first organizational and social center in New York with regularly scheduled dances, performances, and film presentations.

This session will discuss issues, strategies, and directions for documenting LGBT place-based history. Statewide panelists will discuss national LGBT documentation projects, new approaches for NR listings, and highlight the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which will make an invisible history visible by commemorating sites important to the LGBT community and those that document its contributions to US history and culture.

Related Links:
http://nyclgbtsites.org
https://rainbowheritagenetwork.org

Session Speakers:

Jay Shockley, Co-Director, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Jay Shockley is co-author of the Stonewall nomination (1999) that resulted in first NRHP listing for an LGBT site and subsequent only National Historic Landmark listing. He is a participant in “A Guide to Lesbian & Gay New York Historical Landmarks” map project (1994) and creator and leader of the panel “Beyond Stonewall: Recognizing Significant Historic Sites of the LGBT Community” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference (Buffalo, 2011). Since 1979, Jay has served as a historian at Landmarks Preservation Commission, where he has researched and written over 100 designation reports covering all aspects of the city’s architectural, social, and cultural history.

Amanda Davis, Project Manager, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Amanda Davis is a New York City-based architectural historian and surveyor who previously served as the Director of Preservation and Research at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. At GVSHP, she worked on a number of LGBT-related projects, including a plaque installation commemorating PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford and a National Register eligibility letter for Julius’ bar. In Pasadena, CA, she worked for Architectural Resources Group as an architectural historian/preservation planner and collaborated with the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Historic Resources on its innovative SurveyLA initiative. Her preservation career began as an intern at the Central Park Conservancy and then in the research department of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Andrew S. Dolkart, Professor, Historic Preservation Program, Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation; Co-Director, NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
Andrew S. Dolkart is co-author of the Stonewall nomination (1999) that resulted in first NRHP listing for an LGBT site and subsequent only National Historic Landmark listing. He is a participant in “A Guide to Lesbian & Gay New York Historical Landmarks” map project (1994), author of scores of NRHP nominations, panelist in “Beyond Stonewall: Recognizing Significant Historic Sites of the LGBT Community” at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference (Buffalo, 2011), and author of the NRHP Julius’ Bar nomination (2016).

Christopher N. Brown, Director, The Allentown Association, Inc.
Christopher N. Brown is a Vice President of Technology for M&T Bank and has nearly 30 years of experience in historic preservation and community activism in Buffalo, New York.  Former president of the Allentown Association, Inc., and Kleinhans Community Association, he currently serves as Chairman of Kleinhans Music Hall Management, Inc., which is responsible for the ongoing care and restoration of that National Historic Landmark.  Brown also was sponsor and co-author of two National Register historic district nominations:  Allentown and Fargo Estate, both of which included the contributions of LGBT residents who helped to define these neighborhoods’ characteristics.  Brown and his partner, David F. Granville, make their home in Buffalo’s Allentown Historic Preservation District.

Larry Francer, Associate Director of Preservation, The Landmark Society of Western New York
Larry Francer joined The Landmark Society as the Associate Director of Preservation in September of 2012. Local preservationist, courthouse activist, business owner, religious leader, Zumba enthusiast, filmmaker and actor, Larry Francer is a true renaissance man.  Before moving to Rochester, Larry and his husband, Jerome Herron, lived in Farmland, Indiana for over two decades where they worked tirelessly to help turn that tiny town into a true destination. Francer was Co-Executive Producer of the documentary “Courthouse Girls of Farmland,” which, among other honors, won the first place Audience award at the Breckinridge Festival of Film.

 >>If you can’t miss this session, click here to register now!

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