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Big preservation awards night as H.D.C., Village Preservation to fete slew of honorees

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Tonight, Tues., June 13, is a busy night for preservation — specifically, preservation awards.

There is not one but two awards events, both slated to happen simultaneously in the East Village.

The Historic Districts Council will hold its Grassroots Preservation Awards at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 E. 10th St., from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets ($30 general admission, $25 seniors) will be available at the door. Light refreshments will be served.

The awards honor New York’s “brightest community preservationists,” including individuals, community groups, coalitions, politicians and press outlets, for their achievements. According to H.D.C., “Grassroots Award recipients work on the ground, in public service, in communities and online to bring attention and resources to saving the heart and soul of New York City.”

This year’s H.D.C. awardees include:

● Eric K. Washington, a historian and author, who created and led the campaign to have Chelsea’s former Colored School No. 4 building successfully designated an individual New York City landmark.

● Justice for 441 Willoughby, a group of concerned neighbors who created a community campaign to preserve 441 Willoughby Ave., also known as the Jacob Dangler Mansion, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and who continue to advocate for neighborhood preservation.

● Manhattan Community Board 5 Land Use, Housing and Zoning Committee (covering a swath of the middle of Manhattan roughly from Union Square to Central Park South), which makes recommendations around significant land use issues in its district, including the proposed Penn Station Redevelopment Area.

● The Village Sun newspaper will receive the Friend From the Media Award from H.D.C. for promoting the preservation ethic through ongoing features on buildings and neighborhoods, planning, infrastructure and land use — including community pushback on installation of 5G towers in historic districts, the recent spate of construction-related destruction and damage of landmarked buildings, like 14 Gay St. and 10 Fifth Ave., and coverage of the community’s legal victory against the oversized Howard Hughes project at 250 Water St. in the Seaport Historic District.

Councilmember Christopher Marte will receive the group’s Friend in High Places Award for strongly advocating for designation in his district, most notably in the push to landmark parts of the Lower East Side, his support of the Seaport Coalition in its lawsuit against 250 Water St., the preservation of the Elizabeth Street Garden in Little Italy and the designation of the 60 Wall Street POPS (Privately Owned Pedestrian Space), a loggia-like space connecting Wall and Pine Streets.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, Village Preservation will hold its annual Village Awards at The Cooper Union’s historic Great Hall, at 7 E. Seventh St., also starting at 6 p.m.

Scenes from last year’s Village Awards by Village Preservation.

The event is free but spaces are limited and RSVPs are required.

Known as “the Oscars of the Village,” this year’s awards will honor a mix of institutions, small businesses, local leaders and historic restorations. There will also be performances and a post-event reception with refreshments by local eateries.

The Village Preservation awardees for 2023 include:

  • Dashwood Books, at 33 Bond St., the city’s only independent bookstore entirely focused on photography.

  • Essex Card Shop, at 47 Avenue A, a multigenerational, immigrant-owned success story, the store opened in 1974, survived through the neighborhood’s tough times and, more recently, through a devastating fire in 2000.

  • The Red Door Place Soup Kitchen and Food Pantry, at 201 W. 13th St., a 20-year-old nonprofit at Church of the Village that addresses food insecurity.

  • The Manhattan Monster Bar, at 80 Grove St., a 40-year-old L.G.B.T.Q.+ nightclub and piano bar on Sheridan Square.

  • Yara Arts Group, an East Village-based group, founded in 1990, focused on expressing the neighborhood’s Ukrainian culture, in theater, poetry, music, puppetry, workshops, exhibitions and lectures.

  • La MaMa ETC Restoration of 74A E. 4th St. will receive the Regina Kellerman Award for the full-scale, gut renovation of the theater’s first building, which was purchased by Ellen Stewart in 1967 when it had no roof, no flooring and no back wall.

As for why the H.D.C. and Village Preservation awards events are both being held the same night at the same time, it wasn’t intentional, but more like some kind of rare lunar eclipse, according to Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation.

“I don’t want to speak for H.D.C.,” he said. “But a few weeks after we announced the date and time of our awards, H.D.C. gave us the heads up that unfortunately theirs would be at the same time, as it was the only time they could get the space they needed. I’m sure they would have preferred they not be the same day, but I also understand how difficult it can be to secure the kinds of spaces needed for these events. Never happened before. Inevitable it would happen some time. Hopefully not again for another 20 years or so!”

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