Pickens Hall & Opera House in Heuvelton Wins Preservation Award

Preservation League of NYS will present honor on May 10 in NYC

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Pickens Hall & Opera House - before

ALBANY, NY (04/20/2017) (readMedia)-- The Preservation League of New York State has selected the Pickens Hall & Opera House in Heuvelton to receive an award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.

The League's statewide awards program honors notable achievements in retaining, promoting and reusing New York State's irreplaceable architectural heritage.

"New York State has a number of historic opera houses and theaters that would benefit from the vision, leadership and dedication that are the hallmarks of this 15-year effort," said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. "From repairs to failing infrastructure and the addition of modern amenities, to the replication of myriad historic and architectural elements, this project illustrates that when people work together, anything is possible. The League applauds the concerted efforts of the project team to return this building to its rightful role as a vibrant regional center for culture and music."

The project team included the Heuvelton Historical Association; Crawford & Stearns / Architects and Preservation Planners of Syracuse; Tisdel Associates, Engineers of Canton; Continental Construction of Gouverneur; and David R. Weissbard, Grant Administrator, of Canton.

In 2001, with the building facing imminent demolition, a group of concerned citizens led by David Kingsley formed the Heuvelton Historical Association (HHA) for the sole purpose of acquiring and saving this local landmark. Years of neglect had led to deteriorated structural framing and various other damage both seen and unseen. Their first step was to secure the building against the elements and with an initial grant and their own labor they installed a new roof and made minor repairs. It can be extremely difficult to raise large amounts of money for such efforts in small towns in rural counties and constant fundraising and sweat equity became hallmarks of the organization.

Significant project support has come from New York's Environmental Protection Fund, Empire State Development, the Sweetgrass Foundation, the North Country Community Foundation, Oswegatchie Development Corporation, David & Barbara McCadam, and NY Main Street among others.

"This is a story of great accomplishment ... against all odds," said Ellen Rocco, Station Manager of North County Public Radio. "Heuvelton Historical Association has brought back Pickens Hall & Opera House as the beating heart of the village, re-established it as a gathering place that draws audiences from across the North County, and makes us all proud."

The awards will be presented at the Preservation League's Awards Ceremony in New York City at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10th at the historic New York Yacht Club, 37 West 44th Street.

The complete list of award winners is: Phoenix Brewery Apartments, Buffalo; Beekman Hotel and Residences/Temple Court, New York City; A. Philip Randolph Houses, Phase One, New York City; South Street Seaport Museum: the 1885 sailing ship Wavertree, New York City; Rouge Tomate Chelsea, New York City; Marriott Syracuse Downtown (formerly Hotel Syracuse); Pickens Hall & Opera House, Heuvelton; Argos Inn, Ithaca. Ruth Pierpont, the former Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation and the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, will be honored for decades of service to the cause of historic preservation in New York State.

"With our annual awards program, the Preservation League explores not just the present, but the future of historic preservation. Many of the 2017 award winners provide valuable examples for others by incorporating energy efficiency techniques, adaptive reuse strategies and use of Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits," said DiLorenzo. "Each year, we are impressed by the number and variety of laudable nominations, and this year was no exception. We are delighted to celebrate the rebirth of the historic Pickens Hall & Opera House, and to commend all members of the project team for their leadership and vision."


David Kingsley

Heuvelton Historical Association

315-344-7950; dkings80@hotmail.com