KHS Carnegie Learning Center
Students from the KHS Carnegie Learning Center’s Media & Communications Class collaborated with Friends of Historic Kingston on our 2012 FHK Gallery exhibit, Save the Best to Last. Working in small teams, the students researched 14 “Preservation Success Stories” throughout the City of Kingston. Each team visited its assigned site several times and interviewed those involved in the restoration of the building on videotape. They also designed a brochure for each site, and constructed still and animated models of the buildings using Google “Sketch Up.” In addition to gaining new technical skills, the students learned to appreciate the value of preserving significant buildings in Kingston. Instructors who oversaw the project were Edward Leach, Rachael Scorca and Holly McCabe. We are pleased and proud to present a portion of their work. Above is an unedited edition of the video footage.
The Friends of Historic Kingston has saved from destruction or irreversible damage a number of historically and architecturally significant buildings and sites throughout the city by buying, restoring and then reselling the properties to new owners:
The Dr. Luke Kiersted House, 95 John Street, Stockade Historic District
In early1969, as part of Kingston’s Urban Renewal Plan, it was proposed to widen the intersection of John and Greens Streets in the Stockade District by rounding off the corner. To accomplish this, the city’s oldest frame house, the circa 1795 Dr. Luke Kiersted House, would have been demolished. To save the building, the Friends purchased the house from the Urban Renewal Agency with a mortgage from the Ulster Savings Bank. In October 1969, after holding a fund-raising rummage sale, the Friends began restoring the exterior. The 20th century replacement double front door was replaced by a period door salvaged from a house that had been demolished on nearby Washington Avenue. Two 20th century building additions were removed, two chimneys rebuilt, a new roof installed and the original beaded clapboard siding was painted. After investing over $30,000 in the house, the Friends sold the building to a couple as a private residence. Future owners have continued to preserve the building as it was restored.
The William DeWitt House, 20 John Street, Stockade Historic District
In 1975, the slated demolition of the William DeWitt House in the Stockade District came to the attention of the Friends and the Landmarks Commission. The owner, a local bank, wanted to remove the house to provide an additional parking lot exit for its customers. The Friends and Commission members met with the bank to persuade its directors that the 1830 residence, built in the Greek Revival style, was not only valuable in itself but would disrupt the entire block and its streetscape. In November 1976, the bank agreed to sell the Friends the house and 25 feet of land at the rear for $3,500, its appraised value at that time. Friends of Historic Kingston volunteers cleaned out the interior, held a rummage sale and began scraping old paint off the clapboard exterior. A new roof and exterior paint restoration was provided through a home improvement loan of $10,000. In total, the Friends invested $19,500 in the house and, in 1978, resold it in its newly restored condition for $20,000.
The Thomas Burgess House, 15 Hone Street, Rondout Historic District
Early in 1979, the Friends actively began looking for a building to restore in Rondout, the city’s historic waterfront district. Like the earlier projects, one of our objectives was to encourage other building owners to do similar restorations. A Federal-style residence at 15 Hone Street, originally owned by Thomas Burgess, a dock builder, came up for tax sale and the Friends bid of $2,500 was accepted by the City. Again, our volunteers worked to clean up the property. At the cost of losing a $10,000 grant from the State Historic Office, the Friends removed the Victorian era front porch in order to restore the brick and red sandstone façade to its original appearance. Built between 1833-1837, the Burgess House is one of Rondout’s earliest residences and a rare example in Rondout of the Federal style. When the exterior restoration was complete, the Friends had invested $20,000. In August 1984, the Friends sold the building to a new private owner for $17,000.
Amelia Westbrook House, 292 Clinton Avenue, Stockade District
In 1997, the Friends purchased a long vacant and deteriorating Greek Revival frame house at 292 Clinton Avenue. It was built circa 1832 by Joseph Smith, owner of a nearby general store. Later it was the home of a lawyer, Frederick L. Westbrook, whose daughter Amelia lived in the house until her death in 1938. FHK did extensive restoration work on the exterior and sold the building to a new private owner in 1999.