FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 11, 2019
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The First Hungarian Reformed Church of New York is an exceptional cultural and architectural reminder of the early 20th-century Hungarian-American community in Yorkville.
The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York Headquarters, a remarkable Georgian Revival style mansion, reflects our nation's colonial history and heritage.
NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated two historic buildings in the Upper East Side's Yorkville neighborhood as individual landmarks: the First Hungarian Reformed Church of New York at 346 East 69th Street and the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York Headquarters, at 215 East 71st Street. The First Hungarian Reformed Church of New York is an exceptional cultural and architectural reminder of the early 20th-century Hungarian-American community in Yorkville. The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York Headquarters is a remarkable Georgian Revival style mansion that reflects our nation's colonial history and heritage.
"I am delighted that the Commission voted to designate these two architecturally significant buildings in Yorkville that represent institutions that served this community," said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll. "The First Hungarian Church, designed by prolific architect Emery Roth, is unique in his body of work for its typology and style, reflecting his roots, and is a tangible reminder of the Hungarian-American community in Yorkville and New York City. The National Society of Colonial Dames Headquarters' architecture and mission are intertwined in this Colonial Revival style masterpiece by architect Richard Henry Dana, Jr., whose own colonial heritage is evident in this museum building."
The First Hungarian Reformed Church, built in 1916, is significant as a striking example of early-20th-century church architecture by distinguished New York City architect Emery Roth, who was of Hungarian descent. Its sophisticated design incorporates both Secessionist and Craftsman/Arts and Crafts details. It is one of a small number of religious properties designed by Roth.
The church is also significant for its association with the Hungarian-American community who settled in the Yorkville neighborhood during the first half of the 20th century. Built to serve the rapidly growing Hungarian population, the church provided an important community and political center in the "Little Hungary" neighborhood in Yorkville. Today, the church looks much as it did when it was constructed and continues to serve the same congregation that built it more than 100 years ago.
The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York Headquarters was designed in 1929 by the noted architect Richard Henry Dana, Jr. a specialist in colonial architecture. The building was commissioned by the he National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York, or New York Society, to serve as its headquarters and a house museum. Befitting the organization whose mission is the preservation and promotion of the study of America's colonial past, Dana designed the headquarters as an "idealized" reproduction of a Georgian style mansion based on elements from nine historic houses.
With the arrival of increasing numbers of immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, the New York Society focused outreach efforts on the living conditions of immigrant wives and children, offering classes in English, the naturalization process, and civic responsibility for adult women and supporting a children's program known as the City History Club to teach them about the history of the United States. Today, it continues to offer classes to school children, as well as fellowships to graduate students in American history.
"I am delighted that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has recognized two remarkable buildings located on the Upper East Side," said U.S. Representative Caroline Maloney. "The First Hungarian Reformed Church of New York is a truly unique and instantly recognizable building, a wonderful reminder of the Hungarian community that once flourished in Yorkville. The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York Headquarters is an iconic example of the Georgian Revival style and perfectly suits the purpose for which it was built. The building reminds us of the colonial period and the ancestors of the people who now celebrate their heritage and our history through the activities of the National Society of Colonial Dames. We are truly fortunate to have an active and effective Landmarks Preservation Commission working to preserve New York's great architectural and historic gems."
"As we look to our future, we are duty-bound to respect and preserve the character and diversity of our community, so it is with great pride that we welcome two historic and familiar Upper East Side buildings into the pantheon of New York City landmarks," said Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright. "The First Hungarian Reformed Church on East 69th Street and the nearby New York Headquarters of the National Society of Colonial Dames on East 71st Street will now both be protected for generations to come. I commend the entire city Landmarks Preservation Commission and its Chair Sarah Carroll for their exceptional efforts and example as we work together in years to come to preserve our rich heritage and build for the future."
"As a child, I walked past the First Hungarian Reformed Church every day on my way to Yeshiva at Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School. This church defines what a landmark is for our community," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "To this day its design and architecture serve as physical reminders to Yorkville's storied history as an enclave for immigrants in the 20th century. The National Society of Colonial Dames headquarters is also full of colonial history, making it more than worthy of landmark status. I am proud to have helped accomplish landmarking for both of these locations."
"The Colonial Dames welcome the designation of the exterior of our headquarters on East 71st Street as a New York City landmark, which is consistent with our mission of preserving American history," said MP Naud, President of the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York.
"These two new landmarks represent the City's cultural and architectural diversity," said Peg Breen, President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. "We are especially pleased that First Hungarian Reformed will continue to honor its rich legacy while a new congregation adds another layer to the building's story.""FRIENDS of the Upper East Side is pleased the Landmarks Preservation Commission has voted to recognize the First Hungarian Reformed Church and the National Society of Colonial Dames Headquarters as individual landmarks in Yorkville," said Rachel Levy, Executive Director of FRIENDS of the Upper East Side. "Both sites played a role in the neighborhood's immigrant past – the Church as a reminder of a faraway home, and the Dames with its mission to foster pride in a new nation. These are just two such evocative sites in Yorkville that speak to rich and varied immigrant histories, and we look forward to working with the Commission see more progress in recognizing these buildings and sites in the neighborhood."