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NYC Regional Economic Development Council Announces Architect Hired to Begin Restoration of Historic General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen Building

(August 03, 2012)

NYC Regional Economic Development Council Announces Architect Hired to Begin Restoration of Historic General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen Building

The New York City Regional Economic Development Council announced today that a highly respected historic preservation architect has been hired to plan the restoration of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen Building, which is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Lisa Easton of Easton Architects will prepare a Historic Structure Report for the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, which was awarded a $63,000 grant for the project as part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Council initiative.

“We are very pleased to contribute support for this historic center for education and training in technology,” said NYCREDC Co-Chair and CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “We must protect and preserve those assets which are emblematic of past technology innovation as we plan for the future.”

“The General Society building is an incredible landmark in the history of the builders, inventors and industrialists who made New York State an economic powerhouse,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. ”Historic structures are critical to the unique character of economic vibrant cities, and I’m pleased the New York City Economic Development Council is investing in this important building.”

The nationally significant 1890 Beaux-Arts Building at 20 West 44th Street is home to one of the nation’s oldest and most influential civic organizations, which has provided education in the building trades for 150 years. The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen will develop a Historic Structure Report to guide the renovation, restoration and preservation of The General Society’s 1890 building. The goal is to preserve the historic characteristics of the 20 West 44th Street building while complying with current building codes, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and reconciling energy codes with preservation requirements.

Victoria A. Dengel, President of The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen said, “The Society is honored to have been selected for funding. The Historic Structure Report represents a significant step toward acquiring capital funds to restore our historic building which represents so much history and which houses our educational programs and other activities that make a difference in the lives of so many.”

The General Society subleases upper floors to a myriad of not-for-profits, including the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, the New York Botanical Garden, Yaddo, and The Huguenot Society of America. The building houses the second oldest circulating library in the city, a soaring three-story room with ornate iron-railed stacks and a spectacular skylight. The General Society’s Mechanics Institute utilizes several floors for its tuition-free evening school, which provides technical courses to those in the building trades.

Last year, a total of $785 million was awarded through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for job creation and community development projects consistent with each region’s strategic plans. As part of that process, The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen was awarded a $63,000 historic preservation planning grant through the Environmental Protection Fund, administered by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, toward the $106,941 project.

To learn more about each regional council and their economic development plans, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov. For information on how the New New York is working for business, please visit www.thenewny.com.

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