Jeff Iovannone joined The Landmark Society team in June as a Preservation Planner and will work closely with the Director of Preservation on Landmark’s consulting projects and curate social media for Celebrate City Living. We invited Jeff to share more about his recent work below. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m a historian and historic preservation planner from Buffalo, New York. My areas of interest and specialization include the social history of the built environment, LGBTQ heritage conservation, queer site-based history, and New York State history. My approach to preservation combines social and architectural history and moves beyond the built environment as a material object to document and conserve the intangible stories and heritage connected to “place.”
After completing my PhD in American Studies at the University at Buffalo in 2012, I was a faculty member in History and Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the program in Women’s and Gender Studies at SUNY Fredonia from 2013 to 2021. My interest in U.S. LGBTQ history and community engagement led me to public history and historic preservation. Place–the way geographic locations become invested with historical significance–plays a particularly important role in the history of LGBTQ people who often need to find or make community outside our biological families or places of origin. However, we tend to focus on LGBTQ life in large cities as opposed to areas of the country like Upstate New York with mid-sized cities and rural villages and towns.
In 2021, out of a desire to pursue more community-focused historical work, I enrolled in Cornell University’s Master of Arts program in Historic Preservation Planning. While at Cornell, I led a successful effort to locally landmark the building that housed the headquarters of Firebrand Books, a nationally recognized and multiple award-winning feminist, lesbian, and anti-racist press founded by community organizer and editor Nancy K. Bereano in 1984. The Firebrand building, as it is now known, is Ithaca’s first landmark connected to women’s and LGBTQ history.
I also curated the digital GIS-based exhibit Leslie Feinberg’s Buffalo: Historic Sites in Stone Butch Blues, for which I was awarded Cornell Biddy Martin Graduate Prize for LGBTQ+ Research. The exhibit uses ArcGIS StoryMaps, a place-based storytelling platform, to spatially map historic sites connected to Buffalo’s LGBTQ community represented in transgender author and activist Leslie Feinberg’s semi-autobiographical novel Stone Butch Blues, based on Feinberg’s coming-of-age in the factories and gay bars of Buffalo during the 1960s and ‘70s.
My Master’s thesis focused on the conservation of LGBTQ heritage in Upstate New York through the built environment–a previously unexplored topic–using the Firebrand Books Headquarters in Ithaca as a case study. I am excited to deepen my interest in Western New York’s architectural and cultural heritage with the Landmark Society and to work on Landmark’s LGBTQ Landmarks Initiative.
Learn more about Jeff’s work at: