August 2018: Grant Submitted; Fundraising Underway

We're glad to report this month that the City of Geneva, on behalf of the Parrott Hall Coalition and with grant-writing support from the Landmark Society of Western New York, has successfully submitted a grant application to the State of New York for stabilization of Parrott Hall.  This was truly a coalition group effort, and numerous coalition members, working closely with the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, worked many hours to get the application written and submitted on time (July 27, 2018).

FUNDRAISING is most important at this time.  What can our Friends do?  Your engagement is more critical than ever.  If you have been considering a gift to FPH, now is the best time to show that support.  Although FPH has received its federal tax exemption, the certificate has been lost in the mail.  To make a tax deductible gift, send checks made out to the Geneva Historical Society with a memo note stating Friends of Parrott Hall. More details are available at www.friendsofparrotthall.org.  Also, if you know individuals or organizations who would support our mission, please share contact information with Herb Aldwinckle (hsa1@cornell.edu).  

July 2018: Demolition delayed; Parrott Hall coalition to raise funds to save Parrott Hall; Close cooperation with the city of Geneva

It has been two weeks since Jan Nyrop circulated his memo announcing that demolition of Parrott Hall would commence the week of June 25.  The building still stands, but we are definitely not out of the woods.  This message is to inform you that negotiations between Parks and the coalition are taking place to allow the coalition the chance to stabilize Parrott Hall and create a plan for future use.  

During the ensuing two weeks there have been multiple face-to-face meetings and conference calls.  Parks has suspended temporarily their plans to demolish Parrott Hall, but they have very specific concerns about how we can move forward to mitigate, stabilize, and develop a plan for Parrott Hall’s restoration and utilization.  In the meantime, the coalition, which consists of Friends of Parrott Hall (FPH), the Landmark Society of Western NY, and the Preservation League of NY, Geneva Historical Society and the Ontario County Historical Society have been working hard to address those concerns.  The City of Geneva has been assisting in an advisory capacity.

The FPH Board of Directors met on June 25 when they affirmed their intent to move forward with efforts to save PH.  They also created a Fundraising Committee, led by Kerry Lippincott and Herb Aldwinckle, and a Grant Writing Committee, led by Robert Seem.  Fundraising is rather obvious, but the grant writing became important in our discussion with Parks because they will provide no funds.  Simultaneously, they encouraged us to seek a particular state grant, which has a deadline of July 27, 2018.  The grant also requires a match, hence the work of the Fundraising Committee becomes extremely important.

Because FPH has no track record in seeking grants or undertaking large projects, the coalition has asked if the City of Geneva would be willing to be the lead agency of record.  The hitch is that the city does not want to commit any non-reimbursable funds to the effort.  We understand this position and feel we still want the city as a partner.  The involvement of the city will be presented at the next Council meeting on July 11, 2018.  Parks, the coalition and the city will meet with Jan Nyrop on July 12, 2018, to secure Cornell’s engagement.  More meetings are already scheduled.  Suffice it to say, things are moving at a light-speed pace.

What can our Friends do?  Your engagement is more critical than ever.  If you have been considering a gift to FPH, now is the best time to show that support.  Although FPH has received its federal tax exemption, the certificate has been lost in the mail.  To make a tax deductible gift, send checks made out to the Geneva Historical Society with a memo note stating Friends of Parrott Hall. More details are available at www.friendsofparrotthall.org.  Also, if you know individuals or organizations who would support our mission, please share contact information with Herb Aldwinckle (hsa1@cornell.edu).  

June 2018: Press Conference - Results of Latest Structural Engineering Study

The following text comes from a Press Release coordinated by the Landmark Society of Western New York and the Preservation League of New York State, working closely with the Friends of Parrott Hall.  The press conference was held outside Parrott Hall on June 14, 2018, and resulted in increased awareness of the endangered status of Parrott Hall, as well as newspaper and television coverage.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

PRESERVATION GROUPS & GENEVA CITY COUNCIL REQUEST ALTERNATIVES TO DEMOLITION OF PARROTT HALL, HISTORIC GENEVA BUILDING

 Preservation coalition announces results of engineering report.

  (Geneva, NY – June 14, 2018) The Landmark Society of Western New York, The Preservation League of New York State, Geneva Historical Society and key government officials are joining with the Friends of Parrott Hall as the Parrott Hall Coalition, trying to delay the demolition of Parrott Hall by its owner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. They presented the results of a building assessment performed by a structural engineer at a news conference on Thursday, June 14 at 2 p.m. in front of the building on the campus of Cornell’s Experiment Station and urged the owners to explore alternatives to preserve the building.

Parrott Hall, built in 1852, and initially called Denton House, was the original farm homestead purchased by the State of New York to establish the Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. It was the first building in the city of Geneva listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975 ownership was transferred to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) for the express purpose of creating a State Historic Site.

The Parrott Hall Coalition recently hired a structural engineer to prepare a report assessing the structural integrity of the building. The report was funded, in part, by a $2100 grant from The Landmark Society’s Preservation Grant Fund. With permission from NYS OPRHP, the Coalition’s structural engineer, James D’Aloisio, P.E., SECB, LEED AP, Managing Partner of Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt in Syracuse, conducted a review of the interior of the structure. 

“As we suspected, the report concludes that the building is not in imminent danger of collapsing,” said Kerry Lippincott, Executive Director of the Geneva Historical Society. “A simple tarp over the roof would go a long way towards halting further deterioration as the building awaits a plan for reuse.” 

“Despite significant localized distress to some areas of roof and floor framing, the overall building is stable,” saidD’Aloisio.

“Little was done to maintain the building,” said Bruce Reisch, Chair, Friends of Parrott Hall. “As a result of neglect, it is in a deteriorated state, but it is not beyond repair. It was the responsibility of NYS Parks to preserve this building, but now they are seeking bids to demolishParrott Hall this summer, rather than use taxpayer funds more wisely to repair and stabilize.”

Officials of The Landmark Society of Western New York and Preservation League of New York State agree. “We find it very ironic that OPRHP, the agency responsible for helping New York communities preserve their historic resources, is pursuing demolition of an iconic historic structure,” said Wayne Goodman, Executive Director. “We strongly oppose the demolition of this historic building and we are committed to its preservation and its role in continued community revitalization. So we are asking OPRHP to put the brakes on demolition and give us a chance to further evaluate.” 

“The Preservation League of NYS stands with the rest of the Parrott Hall Coalition in asking NYS OPRHP, the state agency dedicated to historic preservation, to allow the newly-formed Parrott Hall Coalition time to develop a reuse plan and fund the immediate work necessary to eliminate any public health and safety threat posed by Parrott Hall,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President. “We have seen NYS OPRHP afford that opportunity to other sites around the state in similar condition and ask the agency for consistency in how it treats historic properties under its stewardship.”  

The City of Geneva has experienced a wave of revitalization over the last few years, much of it based on protection of its historic heritage, a pillar of the City's Comprehensive Plan. Local officials are also opposed to the demolition. "With this new information, City Council urges OPRHP to pause the demolition of Parrott Hall for one year for Parrott Hall Coalition to obtain a private developer willing to remedy the environmental issues and restore the building for a determined use; work with Cornell University to agree on a use that would align with the rebranding of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station as Cornell AgriTech; and work with OPRHP on the plan to transfer ownership to an appropriate entity," shared Sage Gerling, Acting City Manager.

 “It is a shame the state would choose demolition over preservation given New York’s rich land-grant history and commitment to partnerships advancing agriculture and the economy,” said Louis Guard, County Supervisor representing District 2 in Geneva. “Parrot Hall should stand as a symbol of this partnership.” 

May 2018: Parrott Hall endangered by NYS Parks

The Friends of Parrott Hall are working closely with the Preservation League of New York State and the Landmark Society of Western New York to urge a stop to Park's plan to demolish Parrott Hall. A second opinion is needed and we have a structural engineer lined up, one experienced with historic masonry structures, to access this historic site and safely assess its condition. But we need permission from Parks first.  We have excellent local support from citizens of the area, as well as the Geneva Historic Districts and Structures Commission, Geneva City Council, and the Town Board of the Town of Geneva.

I am asking now for your help!  Without hearing from you, Parks will proceed with its plans to demolish Parrott Hall.  With support from the Preservation League and the Landmark Society, we are ramping up efforts in public awareness and engagement.  Suggestions on how you can help are found here:

This is Preservation Month .  It’s a great time to bring attention to our threatened historic treasures like Parrott Hall.  So . . .

  • Please call or write to Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey (and many thanks if you’ve already done so!). Ask her to save Parrott Hall, and demand that she allow the Friends of Parrott Hall access to the building so a second opinion can be developed from our own structural engineering firm.  Speak out against “demolition by neglect.” (Commissioner Rose Harvey, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Albany, NY 12238; 518-474-0443)
  • Call or write State Senator Pam Helming to thank her for her support. Let her know you appreciate her help, and this is an issue of importance to you.  (Sen. Pamela Helming, Legislative Office Building Room 946, Albany,  NY 12247; local phone for office at 425 Exchange Street - 315-568-9816)
  • Participate in our social media campaign; post to your social media accounts using the hashtag #thisplacematters .
  • Hold up the “This Place Matters” sign while standing in front of Parrott Hall.  Take pictures and post away to social media.  You can print signs found at “Printable Signage”, or see me (Bruce Reisch) to borrow one of my signs if you’re nearby.
  • Use the hashtag #ThisPlaceMatters

·      Tag the National Trust @savingplaces on Instagram

·      Tag Landmark Society @landmarksociety on Instagram

·      Tag the Preservation League, @preservenys

·      And I would even consider tagging OPRHP, @nystateparks on Instagram. 

 

Thank you!!

Reaching out

Meetings are planned this month with community leaders to inform them of our vision and to seek their input and support.  It's urgent that we gain access to the building to carry out further structural analyses, and plan for stabilization efforts.

November 2017 Report

Efforts are continuing to preserve Parrott Hall, reduce the possibilities for further water damage over the course of the upcoming winter, and to raise funds for preservation and renovation efforts.