Historic sites win new recognition

ALBANY–The New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended two new sites in Columbia County for inclusion in the state and national registers of historic places. On December 3, the Kinderhook’s African American Cemetery was placed on the list; the Tracy Memorial/Village Hall was nominated in September.

Once sites are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places they are also eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. If, following a review, the nominations are approved, the sites will be entered on the National Register.

“These landmarks are part of New York’s rich history and by preserving their legacies, we are encouraging future growth in communities across the state,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release about the December 3 announcement. “I congratulate this year’s recipients on their great work in protecting the Empire State’s unique history and preserving these economic and educational assets for generations to come.” Twenty-eight sites around the state were nominated in the December announcement and twenty-seven were nominated in September.

50 15news State Register Sites with photo

Pictured one of the 15 graves at Kinderhook’s African American Cemetery in Rothermel Park, which is now on the state Register of Historic Places. Photo by Scott Langley

“We are pleased to recognize these outstanding achievements, which have made significant contributions to historic preservation and revitalization efforts across the state,” Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said in the same release.

Kinderhook’s African American Cemetery, according the press release from the state, “was established ca. 1816 exclusively for the use of the area’s black population, the cemetery illuminates an important and underrepresented aspect of the early Dutch-settled village’s history.”

In a story published in The Columbia Paper in 2013, Village Historian Ruth Piwonka said that the plot with 15 gravestones in Rothermel Park was establish when Kinderhook resident John Rogers left the land in his will to be used as a cemetery for “the people of color of Kinderhook.”

Several village residents, including Ms. Piwonka and Warren Applegate, were involved in getting the word out about the cemetery. Mayor Carol Weaver congratulated Ms. Piwonka and Mr. Applegate for their hard work at the December 9 Village Board meeting.

Tracy Memorial Village Hall in Chatham, is, according the state registry, a “Neoclassical style civic building, erected 1912-13, designed by architect and landscape designer Horace Whittier Peaslee (1884-1959), a native of Columbia County who rose to national prominence, and its construction was funded by the locally prominent Tracy family in memory of Albert E. Tracy, who died in 1910.” In addition being the meeting site of the Village Board, the building houses the Village Clerk’s office, the village police, the Town of Chatham court and a food pantry.

The building was donated to the village by the family but for many years it was managed by an independent board called the Tracy Foundation. The Village Board took over maintenance of the building last year and had an study done to look into the major repairs and upgrades, including the need to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), repairs to the roof and fire escape, and security for the Town Court offices.

At a Village Board meeting last week Chatham Mayor Tom Curran described the decision to include the building on the state’s Historic Register as “great news.”

Being listed on the state and national registers can assist property owners in revitalizing buildings, making the structures and grounds eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. Spurred by the state and federal historic rehabilitation commercial tax credits administered by the State Historic Preservation Office, developers invested $500 million statewide in 2014 to revitalize properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while homeowners using the state historic homeowner rehabilitation tax credit invested more than $9.8 million statewide on home improvements to help revitalize historic neighborhoods.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are more than 120,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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