Thursday, September 30, 2010

Park Avenue Boulevard Architectural Walking Tour - This Sunday (Oct 3)

Syracuse, NY. "Five Sisters" on Park Avenue in 2009. Photo: Peter Chen, Post Standard

Park Avenue Boulevard Architectural Walking Tour - This Sunday (Oct 3)

Join PACNY vice-president, landscape architect, and Park Avenue home owner Jeff Romano on a walking tour of one of Syracuse's loveliest - but little known - streets - street that is a neighborhood. Park Avenue's Victorian "five sisters" houses recently received a PACNY preservation award, and St. Paul's Armenian Apostolic Church was also recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places (formerly Park Ave Methodist Church, built in 1888).

I hope to attend - but as a looker and listener only!

Historic Neighborhood Tour

Come explore one of Syracuse’s historic neighborhoods, see the city’s history in a new light.

Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY)

will host a walking tour of the Park Avenue Boulevard in Syracuse, Sunday, October 3, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

This tour will travel along the 300 - 600 blocks of Park Avenue and a side street or two. Come walk a timeline of the development of a neighborhood starting around 1830. On this tour, you will be introduced the beautiful "five sisters," the recently refurbished residences facing Leavenworth Park, and industrial remnants along with current developments. All of this will fit into a broader historical view of the neighborhood from its beginnings to what we have inherited as it is today, and a view into its future.

Please meet in the center of Leavenworth Park - rain or shine.

The tour starts promptly at 2:00 pm from Leavenworth Park (Leavenworth Ave at Park Ave .) 1 block south of West Genesee and 2 blocks north of Erie Blvd. The tour will finish at St. Paul's Armenian Apostolic Church, which was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places (formerly Park Ave Methodist Church, built in 1888).

The tour will be hosted by landscape architect Jeff Romano, Vice President of PACNY and a member of the Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board.

Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

Restrooms will be available.


PACNY members - $10

Non members - $12

Please support PACNY by becoming a member to create a larger voice of Preservation in Central New York. Membership forms will be available.

The member-based Preservation Association of Central New York has been the area’s citizen voice for historic preservation for over 35 years. Founded as a reaction to the widespread neglect and demolition of historic buildings and neighborhoods in the 1960’s, PACNY has led the successful effort to transform our community’s perception and care of its historic resources so that now the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County have over a dozen historic districts which contribute to the region’s cultural and economic vitality. For further information about PACNY, contact Michael Flusche (President of PACNY) at 315-569-6761 or See the PACNY website at

You can read more about preservationist and PACNY member Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, who also lives on the Park Avnue, on Post-Standard reporter Maureen Sieh's blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Future of Blodgett and Central Schools: A Panel Discussion at the OHA Museum

The Future of Blodgett and Central Schools:
A Panel Discussion at the OHA Museum
Sunday, September 26, 2010
2 PM at the OHA Museum
Sponsored by the Onondaga Historical Association and
the Preservation Association of Central New York
Syracuse, NY. Former Central High School (1903)
In conjunction with its current exhibit, Recapturing that Old School Spirit: Syracuse High Schools of Days Gone By, the Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) Museum is hosting a panel discussion on the future of two of those buildings: Blodgett and Central.
Of Syracuse’s older high school buildings that remain, most have found new or continuing uses. The future of two, however, has been somewhat murky. Central High School, opened in 1903 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been empty for 35 years, despite its key downtown location. Recent plans to transform it into a major technical school for the region have faltered, leaving its future uncertain.
Blodgett, opened in 1918 as a vocational high school, now serves as a K-8 facility, but one in serious need of rehabilitation. The planning for that rehabilitation has become a much-discussed topic of late, as the Syracuse School District and the city administration wrestle with renovation budgets for a number of city schools. Some have even questioned whether Blodgett should be included.

Syracuse, NY. Blodgett School (1918)
OHA’s exhibit touches on the topic of these buildings, their historic status and meaning to the community. To engage the community further, OHA has joined with the Preservation Association of Central New York to organize a panel discussion about the topic. Participating on the panel are the following:
Ned Duell, Syracuse City School Board
Anne Messenger,Near West Side Initiative
Sehl Burns, Central High School Alumnus
Doug Sutherland, Local Developer
Nadar Maroon, Syracuse City Council
Beth Crawford, Preservation Association of Central New York
Serving as moderator for the discussion will be Sean Kirst, columnist for The Post-Standard newspaper.
Illustrations of Syracuse schools long gone and forgotten,from Boyd's Syracuse City Directory, 1883-84
May School at Seneca Street between Otisco and Tully.
Prescott School, Willow Street above Lock Street
Syracuse High School, W. Genesee St at Onondaga Creek (1869)

Those who plan to attend this program are encouraged to come early to view the related exhibit at the OHA Museum. The Museum is located at 321 Montgomery Street in downtown Syracuse. Admission is free.

For more information, contact the OHA Museum at 428-1864
T. Aaron Levy School (formerly Nottingham high School) in the Westcott Neighborhood.
Its future as a school is uncertain.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Centennial of Syracuse's Temple Concord Cornerstone

USA: Centennial of Syracuse's Temple Concord Cornerstone
by Samuel D. Gruber

(ISJM) This month marks the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of present building of Temple Society of Concord, the oldest Jewish institution in Central New York and one of the oldest existing American congregations. The congregation will kick off this building centennial year (or years) with a brief ceremony and a wine and cheese reception before Shabbat services on Friday, September 10th. Events associated with the Jewish architecture and the building will be taking place all year, culminating with a re-dedication of the historic sanctuary next fall. The International Survey of Jewish Monuments has its office at Temple Concord, and I'll be giving a talk "Temple Concord, Jewish Architecture and City Beautiful" on April 11, 2011.

To take you back 100 years here is the story from the Syracuse Post-Standard from September 19, 1910 about the cornerstone laying ceremony. The full text of congregation president Gates Thalheimer is given. Thalheimer's remarks are indicative of American Reform sentiments at the time. I've written an article about these, and the role played by classical style architecture in promoting these sentiments and ideals, that should be out sometime in 2011.

The Post-Standard, Syracuse, N.Y., September 19, 2010

(transcribed by Samuel Gruber)

Corner Stone of Temple set with Trowel of Gold

Impressive Services Are Held by Society of Concord

Rev. Dr. Guttman, Assisted by Two Rabbis Conducts Services.

Prominent Hebrews of City Congratulate Church Upon Progress

The corner stone of the $85,000 house of worship bring erected at University avenue and Madison street by the Temple Society of Concord was set yesterday afternoon with a gold trowel presented by the Building Committee to the president of the society, Gates Thalheimer. Despite the unfavorable weather there was a large congregation at the impressive ceremonies which marked an important epoch in the growth of the society.

The corner stone contains a copper box in which was placed the customary documents, and on one side is this inscription: “Society of Concord, 1910.” The building, it is expected, will be dedicated in June next year.

Rev. Adolph Guttman, rabbi of the society, was assisted in conducting the services by Rabbis Jacob Kohn and J. H. Stolz. Besides Dr. Guttman and Mr. Thalheimer addresses were made by Dr. Nathan Jacobson, Dr. Henry L. Einer and Henry Danziger, chairman of the Building Committee. Dr. Guttman made an appeal for Godliness, declaring that no enterprise can succeed without the spirit of God. Dr. Jacobson said he regarded the ceremony as an important event in Jewish history in Syracuse and vicinity, and referred to it as the first evidence of expansion. “There are only two conditions in this world,” said Dr. Jacobson, “namely, growth and decay. We are showing growth. What we want inside of these cold walls is a spirit that will give life and sympathy and the development of religious thoughts and principle. Such an institution will bid welcome to all who seek admission.”

Dr. Eisner believed the influence of the Temple Society of Concord in its new building would be far-reaching. He spoke of the value of culture and good influence.

The trowel was presented to Mr. Thalheimer by Henry Danziger. It is engraved as follows: “With this trowel was set the corner stone of the Temple Society of Concord in 1910. Presented to Gates Thalheimer, president, by the members of the Building Committee.

Mr. Thalmeimer made a short address which was cordially received. In part he said:

The laying of this corner stone is an event, toward which many of us have looked for a long time. When the thought of building a new Temple first arose among us there were many problems to settle. First among these was the matter of location. I am sure that now we will all agree that this problem was settled right. Many of our people have worshiped in the old Temple at State and Harrison streets. That Temple has had a noble history. There are many tender associations there, which we shall not forget. But changes of population have been great since our old Temple was built. We have chosen, therefore, this place on this hill, surrounded by a fine neighborhood of beautiful homes, close to the campus of a great university. It does seem a most appropriate place for us to locate and build. We shall cherish the memories of the old house of God, but our faces are turned towards the future and we are planning for the years to come. We are thinking of our children, and of our children’s children. We are carrying out a programme which ought to increase the usefulness and influence of our society.

What we are doing now ought to forecast a new epoch of prosperity and provide a permanent home for our people for generations to come.

Our business now is to complete this Temple, equip it, pay for it and do our best to make it a worthy monument to the living vitality of the faith of Israel. So much in a business way.

I am not your pastor. I would be out of place preaching to you, or exhorting you. I certainly have no desire to pose as a religious leader. But there are thoughts that crowd the mind of a plain business man at such a time as this. There are associations with our temple building which stir ancient and noble memories. There are interests here greater than those of brick and stone and builder’s accounts.

We who are members of this temple Society of Concord are also members of the household of Israel. We ought to be proud of this fact. We ought to be glad that we are Israelistes. It is the best thing in all that we inherit form the past that we were born among that ancient people whose history is older than the throne of Caesar’s or the ideas of Plato.

To-day we are far from the home where our fathers lived. The land they loved is in ruins. The temple they built is no more. Some among our people dream of a time when they will return to Palestine and rebuilt her waste places. Perhaps that time may come. Possibly some future age may see Zion restored to her ancient beauty. But that is not for us who are settled here in this new world. We are a remnant of the people of God, but we have learned to love this great Republic. We are among its citizens. Its duties and its right are ours.

This brings me to my final word and to the thought which is behind all I have so far said. This land of ours is a great workshop. Its looms and wheels turn fast. The opportunities for education, wealth and power are marvelous. The temptations are also great. We are drawn into the whirlpool of this vast tumult. This is no time nor place for ancient superstitions or outgrown fables.

But it is a time to recall the one thing which has made Israel immortal. We are to be modern up to date men and women. We are to be Americans. But it will be a miserable mistake if we forget that we are also of that people who made that ancient covenant with Jehovah. With malice toward none and with love toward all we are building this Temple because we are sharers in Israel’s hope. That hope which from Abraham until now has never failed our race.

The very thing we can do for ourselves, four our children, and for our country, is to renew our vows to the God of our fathers that in our day and generation we will serve Him. This Temple is to be our pledge that Israel’s faith is one, and that though we are divided by continents and seas and languages, yet our hope is one.

Several hymns were sung by the quartet choir of the Temple Society of Concord under the direction of George K. Van Deusen.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Historic Ithaca to Hold Window Workshops in September

The replacement of good long lasting wooden windows with new short-lasting vinyl replacements is one the most unnecessary changes wrought in older houses in older neighborhoods. Fast sales talk and sometime public energy savings subsidies often convince homeowners that rplacing old windows with new is cheaper, cleaner, easier and hassle free. I ain't so! Vinyl isn't final, and even when it lasts, poor installation, shoddy mechanisms and other faults often make "replacement" windows in need of replacement within a decade. Here's a chance - courtesy of Historic Ithaca - for contractors and others to learn more about working with older windows. Maybe we'll be able to bring this program to Syracuse...but until then here is an opportunity.

Historic Ithaca to Hold Window Workshops in September

Can you really believe everything the window salesman says about replacing your historic wood windows?

Many old windows have lasted 100 or more years. With the right repairs and maintenance, they'll last another 200 and be as energy-efficient as replacement windows.

Historic Ithaca is offering two hands-on wood window restoration workshops in September: a four-day intensive course for contractors, painters, and other building professionals and a one-day hands-on workshop for homeowners, landlords, and property managers.

The one-day workshop will equip building owners to keep their old windows in good working order. Participants will learn the basic skills to perform affordable and lasting window repairs. This workshop will be held on Saturday, September 25, 10am–4pm at Historic Ithaca's headquarters, 212 Center Street, Ithaca NY.

The four-day workshop will prepare professionals for successful work on clients' windows. This comprehensive on-site course includes evaluating conditions, removing windows, repairing damaged wood, reglazing, installation and restoration of hardware, paint removal, and lead safety. This workshop will be held Tuesday, September 21 through Friday, September 24, 9am–4pm each day.

Advance registration is required and space is limited in both workshops. The registration fee for the one-day workshop is $95 ($85 for Friends of Historic Ithaca) and the four-day workshop is $425 ($395 for Friends of Historic Ithaca). The fee is non-refundable and includes lunches and refreshments. Register online at

Workshop instructor Steve Jordan is a graduate of Cornell University's Historic Preservation Planning program and a contributing editor for Old-House Journal magazine. He was formerly the rehab advisor for the Landmark Society of Western New York and an architectural conservator for Bero Architecture. He is the author of numerous articles about old-house repair and historic preservation, and he has many years of hands-on experience working on his own and his clients' old homes.

Historic Ithaca's window workshops are funded through a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and through the support of these sponsors: Argos Inn, Chemung Canal Trust Company, Crawford & Stearns Architects and Preservation Planners, and Taitem Engineering.

For more information, visit