Preservation: The FHK Story
FHK Proudly Preserves a Major Legacy
Since 1993, the focus of our efforts has been the preservation of the c.1812 John Sudam House bequeathed to the Friends of Historic Kingston by Fred J. Johnston to be maintained as a museum showcasing his collection of antique furnishings and decorative arts. It is a legacy we proudly preserve. Read more about how Johnston saved the historic house from demolition in 1937 and the museum that honors his legacy: the Fred J. Johnston Museum and the adjacent Friends of Historic Kingston Gallery, housed in his former antiques shop.
Preserving Kingston’s Rich Historic Fabric
Since 1965, Friends of Historic Kingston has been in the forefront ensuring that the city’s 350 years of architectural heritage and history will endure. The organization spearheaded several developments that significantly advanced the preservation of the city’s unusually rich historic fabric, among the oldest in America.
Historic Landmarks Commission Created
Through the Friends’ advocacy and groundwork, the City of Kingston established a seven-member Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969. The Commission reviews proposed changes to the exterior of properties within the city’s established historic districts and provides information through publications such as Preservation Guidelines 7 Ways to Love Your Older Home; Historic Districts: Kingston, New York.
Four Historic Districts Designated
Researched and sponsored by Friends of Historic Kingston, four historic districts were added to the National Register of Historic Places and also designated as local historic districts:
Stockade Historic District (1969)
Rondout- West Strand Historic District (1979)
Chestnut Street Historic District (1985)
Fair Street Historic District (1988)
Walking Tours of the Stockade and Rondout National Historic Districts are offered by FHK monthly May-October.
Significant City Buildings and Sites Landmarked
Friends of Historic Kingston sponsored the designations of the following on the national and/or local historic registers: Senate House (1970); Kingston City Hall (1971); Ulster Performing Arts Center (1978); Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge (1979); Kingston/Rondout 2 Lighthouse (1980); Ponckhockie Union Chapel (1980); Cornell Steamboat Company Shops (1980); Kingston Carnegie Library (1995), seven 19th century houses on Albany Avenue (2002); the Sharp Burying Ground (2002); and the Burger-Matthews House.
FHK Spearheads Restoration of 1875 City Hall
Beginning in 1976, the Friends of Historic Kingston spearheaded efforts to restore the architecturally notable 1875 City Hall, working with the Old City Hall Rehabilitation Committee. In addition to fundraising, FHK made a financial contribution towards the restoration of the gold leaf lunettes in the Common Council Chamber. In 2002, during the administration of the late Mayor T. R. Gallo, a magnificently restored City Hall, abandoned for 30 years, once again became the home of city government. See Notable Sites.
FHK Rescues Four Buildings
FHK has saved four buildings that were threatened by deterioration or with demolition by buying, restoring then reselling the properties to new owners:
95 John Street – “The Dr. Luke Kiersted House” (1972)
20 John Street (1977)
15 Hone Street (1979)
292 Clinton Avenue – “The Amelia Westbrook House” (1999)
FHK has also underwritten a restoration guideline for the Burger-Matthews house at 105-107 Henry Street, long threatened with demolition. Read our page of Success Stories for more information about these and other “saves.”
FHK Maintains Two Historic City Sites
In addition to our two museums, FHK maintains two other historic sites and properties in the city.
In 1975, FHK purchased the ruins of the 17th century Louw-Bogardus House, threatened with demolition by Urban Renewal. FHK also purchased the landscape on which the house stands. Stabilizing the ruins and maintaining the landscape, called Frog Alley Park are ongoing projects of FHK. Read more at Our Sites.
Sharp Burying Ground on Albany Avenue is owned by the City of Kingston but maintained by the Friends of Historic Kingston. Restoring and maintaining the monuments and grounds of the 19th century cemetery has been an ongoing project of FHK since 1995. The family of John Sudam, who built the house at 63 Main Street that is now the Fred J. Johnston Museum, is buried here. Read more at Works in Progress.
Company Hill Path in Rondout District Restored
At the end of the row of 19th century commercial buildings on the West Strand, a sign points to a cinder path people can walk uphill to a view overlooking the Rondout Creek. During the days of the Delaware and Hudson Canal (1828-1898) workmen walked the path to collect their paychecks at the company’s main office at the top from where officials could monitor activity on the canal’s loading docks below. In 1982, when the City of Kingston was unable to find money to repair the path and its stone wall, Friends of Historic Kingston volunteers led by Robert Slater and Harry Elmendorf begin clearing the path and repairing the wall. The project was completed in 1986.
FHK Honors Individual Preservation Efforts
Each year, our Annual Preservation Awards Program identifies and honors home and commercial building owners who have restored their buildings with careful regard for the original architecture. Read about the 2012 and 13 honorees in past projects.
FHK Establishes Preservation Library Collection
For building owners who wish to restore or preserve features of their building, FHK has assembled a reference collection of publications in cooperation with the Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Kingston Library. The contents of this collection are available in the Library’s Local History Room. See the Kingston Historic Preservation Library References List.