Monday, March 24, 2008

Reserve today for April 29 Awards Celebration

Invitations are in the mail. Reserve your tickets today! Email us at or call 212-496-8110. Use your credit card, or mail us a check with your reply envelope.

$500 Hit A High C
2 tickets, includes Celebration Committee listing in the evening's program
(see list in progress below)

$250 Belt It Out
2 tickets, includes acknowledgement in the evening's program

$75 Sing a Solo
1 ticket

$50 Join the Chorus
1 ticket, limited number available, reservations cannot be guaranteed until payment is received


Signature pomegranate margaritas, guacamole and much, much more generously provided by Rosa Mexicano. LW! is street smart, turn-on-a-dime, aggressive, effective...and we know how to have fun. JOIN US!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


St. Michael's Church: 28 Years of Landmarks Purgatory

This morning's public hearing on the potential landmark designation of St.Michael's Church, Parish House and Rectory raised hopes that 28 years of landmarks limbo may soon end for this remarkable religious complex on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 99th Street on the Upper West Side. The 1891 limestone ensemble (largely designed by Robert W. Gibson, with exquisitestained-glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany) was last heard by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in 1980.

A public hearing is always a positive step. Thanks so much to everyone whowas able to be there in person. The LPC did not vote at today's hearing but informs us that the record on St. Michael's is now closed. Still, this is an opportunity to make your voice heard on the broader need for action to preserve New York City's historic places of worship. Is there a historic church, synagogue or other religious institution in your community that needs to be preserved but doesn't yet have landmark status? Here's your hook! You can support St. Michael's (see below LPC statement of significance and LANDMARK WEST's testimony below; to read other letters of support, click here and at the same time point out that there's a bigger picture by naming other religious sites that also deserve attention from the LPC.

Join us in urging the LPC to end the tear-down trend that robs our city of its historic houses of worship!

Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th FloorNew York, NY 10007
Phone: 212-669-7888
Fax: 212-669-7955

Hon. Melissa Mark Viverito
NYC Council Member (for the district in which St. Michael's is located)
105 E. 116th Street New York, NY 10029
Phone: 212-828-9800
Fax: 212-722-6378

Hon. Jessica Lappin
NYC Council Member Chair, Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
336 East 73rd Street (Suite C) New York, NY 10021
Phone: 212 535-5554
Fax: 212-535-6098

Please cc.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Public Hearing On
Proposed Designation of St. Michael's Church, Parish House and Rectory
201-255 West 99th Street (aka 800-812 Amsterdam Avenue and 227 West 99th Street)
March 18, 2008

It gives us great pleasure to be here today to testify emphatically in favor of officially designating St. Michael's Church, Parish House and Rectory as a Landmark, at long last.

Twenty-eight years have passed since St. Michael's was first heard for potential landmark designation (in 1980). LANDMARK WEST! included St.Michael's on its Wish List of priority designations nearly 25 years ago-along time, too long, for any building to hang in limbo, its value and significance known but its future unsecured.

And yet there is tremendous urgency to protect this building now. First of all, St. Michael's is without question one of New York's most remarkable architectural ensembles. This gleaming-white limestone church,with its commanding corner tower, red terra-cotta tile roof and Romanesque-arched windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany, together with its adjacent parish house and rectory, is already a "landmark" on the Amsterdam Avenue skyline. And the architect of St. Michael's, Robert W. Gibson, is justly celebrated for other landmarks he designed, including West End Collegiate Church and School (West End Avenue at 77th Street).

Without diminishing the special significance of St. Michael's, one can also compare it to West-Park Presbyterian Church at 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue and, a few blocks further south, Holy Trinity Church at 82nd Street near Amsterdam and First Baptist Church at 79th Street and Broadway (each was left out of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District when it was designated in 1990 in response to owner objections). Or, even farther afield, St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Harlem. All are beacons in their communities, anchoring prominent sites and establishing a sense of place, time and scale for the surrounding neighborhood. All physically embody the dreams and aspirations of their founders, who often made personal sacrifices in order to create a public monument to faith, beauty and community. Each offers a unique window into the history of our city and the cultural memory of its people.

The caretakers of St. Michael's have kept vigilant watch over this beacon and lovingly preserved it. Landmark designation is an important validation of their labors and a crucial tool for safeguarding their investment for generations to come.

Their investment and ours. After all, the public assumes an extra tax burden so that religious institutions may freely pursue their good works.When a congregation maintains and preserves its building, it honors its social contract with the community. And because landmark designation is a key mechanism for making sure that promises of preservation and sensitive improvement are actually kept, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has a special responsibility to identify and protect historic houses of worship.

Unfortunately, the Commission has too often assumed a "hands off" approach,leaving these sites vulnerable to insensitive development that not onlydestroys the structure itself, but diminishes community character and,frequently, weakens the congregation. All of the sites previouslymentioned-plus many, many others in all five boroughs-are in immediatejeopardy as a direct result of the Commission's failure to live up to itsmandate and indeed its proven potential as an agent for revitalization.

In a compelling list of success stories, landmark designation is part of the formula for sustaining the vitality of religious sites-Eldridge StreetSynagogue on the Lower East Side, St. Bartholomew's on Park Avenue, the First and Second Churches of Christ Scientist on Central Park West. In how many cases does the replacement of a religious institution with a residential high-rise or office building ensure a congregation's survival or otherwise contribute to the cultural life of a community? Name one example.

We urge the Commission to designate St. Michael's Church, Parish House and Rectory, thus releasing it from 28 years of landmarks purgatory. We also urge the Commission to step up to its important role in ending the tear-down trend that robs neighborhoods of our historic houses of worship.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Honoring Margot Gayle: A Centennial Celebration

In honor of our dear friend and fellow trench-fighting preservationist, Margot Gayle, LANDMARK WEST! is pleased to pass along this invitation from the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America to join in celebrating Margot's 100th birthday on May 14, 2008. Honoring Margot Gayle: A Centennial Celebration is a fitting tribute to the founder of many of New York's most vigorous preservation campaigns. Margot didn't win every battle (she sounded an early call to preserve Edward Durell Stone's 2 Columbus Circle back in the mid-1990s, nearly a decade before it became an international cause!). But, thanks to Margot, Greenwich Village's Jefferson Market Courthouse, SoHo's cast-iron architecture and countless other landmarks have been saved for the future.

For more information about Margot Gayle and her Centennial Celebration, please see below and visit:

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

On May 14, Margot Gayle will celebrate her 100th birthday! To honor one of our founders, as well asone of New York City's eminent preservationists, the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society is throwing her a birthday party. The event will be held at 6:00 p.m. on her birthday at the CenturyAssociation 7 West 43rd Street. We want you to be part of this special occasion as a member of the benefit committee!

As many of you know, it was around Margot's kitchen table that the Victorian Society in America was formed in 1966. Recognizing that the United States was rapidly losing its Victorian architecture, Margot Gayle rose to the challenge and established an organization that today boasts 16 chapters and over 1300 members.

Margot's commitment to historic preservation reaches far beyond her work with our organization. Her preservation efforts extend from the 1960s when she successfully campaigned to save the Jefferson Market Courthouse in Greenwich Village to a drive in the 1990s to restore the Yorkville sidewalk clock on Third Avenue near 85th Street.

A founder of the Friends of Cast Iron Architecture, she is credited with raising public awareness nationwide of the significance of iron-fronted buildings of the Victorian era. In addition to serving on the founding board of Friends of Terra Cotta, Margot is a widely accredited author and columnist. This year, as a special centennial birthday present to Margot, the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society is asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the SoHo historic district expansion so that she may witness the culmination of her life's work.

Please join us on May 14 at the Century Association to wish Margot a happy birthday and honor a woman who has devoted her life to preserving the rich architectural legacy of New York City and the Victorian heritage of our country.


Jeff Sholeen


All but $100 of your donation is tax deductible. Please keep this for your records.

Names of attendees will be at the door.

Honoring Margot Gayle: A Centennial Celebration

May 14, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.

The Century Association

7 West Forty-Third Street

Yes, I/We want to join you in celebrating Margot Gayle's 100th birthday.

Amount Enclosed:

BENEFACTOR $2,500 ____________

PATRON $1,000 ____________

SPONSOR $500 ____________

CONTRIBUTOR $250 ____________

COMMITTEE MEMBER $150 ____________

I/We regret we will be unable to join you on May 14 but have enclosed a contribution to the Victorian Society in honor of Margot Gayle in the amount of $_________.

Please make checks payable to: Metropolitan Chapter VSA and mail to: 232 East 11th Street, NYC 10003



City:___________________ State___________ Zip:________

Phone:___________________ Email __________________

All replies received by March 15 will be listed on the invitation. Thank you!