AME Zion Church will presenting at the architectural review commission tomorrow for plans to demolish their church located at 111 Washington Street. The plan is to create housing on site. The church has said in a previous news article that the layout no longer accommodates their elderly patrons.

Interestingly the agenda says the are looking to demolish the church but the rendering shows the church in tact with the side lots built up to 6 stories. The house to the left is being shown as demolished.

If you would like to attend the meeting where this rendering will be presented, the meeting will be held at the Activity Center, 401 Washing Street, 6:30pm.

10/31/18 7:30am

The Tower roof complete thanks to the Palisades Park Conservancy’s efforts

Open for 63 years, closed for 68. The Tower of Victory is open once again thanks to the efforts of the Palisades Park Conservancy to raise 1.8 million dollars through private philanthropy and public grants. The tower is not open to the public yet but will reopen very soon. Article by Johanna Yaun, Orange County Historian. 

In 1883, Newburgh was the site of a weeklong gala celebration to commemorate centennial of the end of the Revolutionary War. Over a hundred thousand people descended on the city from around the world to take part in festivities that included parades, military demonstrations, and patriotic speeches. Abraham Lincoln’s son, Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, announced plans to erect a monument at Newburgh to commemorate “the events which took place there a century ago.” Four years later, this monument would be unveiled as the Tower of Victory.

A spiral staircase looming over a statue of General Washington leads to the top of the Tower.

When planning began for the centennial monument, it was originally envisioned as a statue of Washington that would “awaken increased interest and regard for the picturesque stone house now consecrated by so many memories of the past.” By 1886, plans had expanded to enclose the statue in a stone tower that would “typify the rugged simplicity of the times and personages.” Architects Maurice J. Power and John H. Duncan, who would later become known for their work on the 1892 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Grant’s Tomb in Manhattan, and Prospect Park in Brooklyn, were commissioned to design the tower. By the end of 1887, the monument was complete and the idea for a simple statue had grown into an imposing structure that visitors could climb for a view of the vistas of the Hudson River at Newburgh Bay.

In 1950 a severe storm damaged the roof of the Tower of Victory and it was removed to prevent further damage to the base. For 68 years it was closed to the public.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus (center) with Deputy County Executive Harold Porr, County Historian Johanna Yaun, County Tourism Director Amanda Dana, County Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan, Architect Lisa Easton and County Legislator Joseph Minuta (l to r) at the top of the Tower on Sept. 6th.

06/28/18 10:04am

Sadly 69 Liberty has been marked for demolition after the tornado in May. The owners of Calabash, Ruddy and Debbie, really built up this corner to be something special. It was particularly exciting because this building had been in disrepair and empty for years. With a bad roof and a distant landlord, the tornado was the cherry on top. I’m not an engineer, but if renovation was possible at 2 Liberty Street, why not this building?

There’s an empty lot across the street where a factory used to be. It is now used as a parking lot. Hopefully, this corner lot doesn’t become just another empty space, we have so many of those already.

If you are interested in renovating your own property in the City of Newburgh, definitely attend this meeting!

New York’s Historic Tax Credits can help people provide safer and healthier homes for their families, and protect business investments for generations to come.  Plus, the tax credit is an effective economic development tool – providing an incentive to invest in older structures, stabilizing neighborhoods and creating local jobs for skilled workers.

06/12/18 7:30am

If you have ever visited Washington’s Headquarters, you might have passed the historic AME Zion Church on Washington Street right in front of the municipal parking lot. An article and video published in the Times Herald-Record on May 28, 2018, announced that the local congregation is considering tearing down the church, and the adjacent structure to take advantage of two empty side lots they have purchased to build 50 affordable apartments.

When examining this area contextually, there has been much loss of historic buildings. In the last decade alone, half of East Parmenter Street and other surrounding buildings have been demolished due to deterioration from neglect, and the municipal parking lot wasn’t always an empty space, it used to be a factory. It should also be of note, that just steps away at 135-137 Washington is a men’s shelter. The Clinton Hotel isn’t far behind from completely collapsing – all of this steps away from one of Newburgh’s richest assets, Washington’s Headquarters.

Orange County Historian, Johanna Yaun, wrote about the historical significance of the building in her newsletter:

In 2020 Newburgh will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s jubilee march along Washington Street. The leaders of the AME Zion Church used his appearance to mark the passing of the 15th Amendment, which granted voting rights to African American men. By 1870 the church had already become a symbol of liberty, nicknamed “the freedom church” thanks to its associations with the Underground Railroad.

Although the 1905 structure that stands now is not the modest house of worship built by the congregation’s founders, and not the same walls that reverberated the booming voice of Frederick Douglass from the pulpit that’s still used today, this building is a symbol of the grand strides of the African-American community in Newburgh as they passed on the flame of civil advocacy for centuries.

In an age when the American public is making an effort to remove monuments of oppression and contextualize historical symbols in our society, why are we not looking to preserve and elevate the symbols of the struggle for equality? This church would have been an incredible source of pride and progress at a time when “separate but equal” was the law of the land. As a monument, this building combats offensive cultural symbols from the past. It doesn’t put any one person on a pedestal, recognizing that true progress comes from the strength of the right to assembly. Also, it gets away from isolating one date or accomplishment, acknowledging that the struggle for equality has been sustained through generations.

Sincerely,

Johanna Yaun
Orange County Historian

10/23/17 11:30am

33 Lander St Newburgh NY

The Newburgh Community Land Bank is trying to save the shell on 33 Lander Street. They are accepting feasible proposals completed along with this form. Basically, you should view this as their last plea to save the structure before it would probably need to be demolished. For all your preservationists out there, spread the word before this ends up like 290 Liberty Street!

According to the RFP:

“Newburgh Community Land Bank took ownership of 33 Lander Street in December 2014. Since that time, we have had numerous engineers and contractors review the property but have not been able to identify a feasible plan to restore it. Our formal engineering report recommends the removal of the building. The building is completely collapsed on the interior, the roof is collapsed, and the brick is deteriorated from the weather. That report is attached to this RFP.

Prior to proceeding with any plan to salvage materials and make redevelopment plans, NCLB is soliciting proposals for any person or entity with an implementable, fundable proposal to preserve the existing shell and bring the property back to productive use. Any proposal to restore the property will need to be accompanied by evidence of available funds. It is NCLB’s estimate, based upon experience working with similar buildings (deteriorated shells etc), that the costs to remove the material and restore the building will exceed $700,000. Any successful proposal would have a timeline shorter than 24 months or proposed timeline and justification for additional time.”