historic preservation

163 petitions

Update posted 18 hours ago

Petition to New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Corey Johnson, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Meenakshi Srinivasan

Protect Poet Walt Whitman's New York City Home

Walt Whitman, America's most famous poet, lived at 99 Ryerson Street in Brooklyn, New York when his world famous book Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855.  While Whitman lived in over 30 places in what is today New York City during this lifetime, the house at 99 Ryerson Street is the ONLY ONE still standing.  Accordingly, 99 Ryerson Street is of great cultural and historical significance.  It tells not only the story of a key moment in American poetry and literature, but also the story of a towering figure in global culture. We are seeking official city landmark designation from New York City to protect the building from demolition, especially because development is encroaching on the neighborhood.  While the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission initially rejected our request, the Commission is currently reviewing additional information and research that we provided on the significance of the site and Walt Whitman's association with the site.  We need your help convincing the Commission to landmark this critically important building. The house at 99 Ryerson Street is one of only two buildings directly associated with Walt Whitman that are still standing in New York City.  It would be an unforgivable tragedy to lose this crucially important building to history.  Join us in protecting this important cultural resource for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. Quotes from supporters: "To protect a house like this one, it seems to me, is a form of cultural stewardship.For this house to disappear would be something like an extinction: such a place cannot be got back, not ever, once it is lost."  - George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo and winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize “During my time as Poet Laureate of the United States, my travels in our country and abroad gave me a renewed sense of Walt Whitman’s ongoing, central importance. Poets writing in other languages, on every continent have looked to Whitman’s work for an epitome of what is most liberating in the culture of the United States. Please let me add my voice to those hoping that you will recognize his house in Brooklyn as a true landmark.”  - Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate "I feel a particular relationship to Whitman and, maybe more to the point, a strong sense of just how much impact not only his work but his physical presence had on the New York City of his day. I do hope you’ll revisit the question of the house on Ryerson as a historic landmark."  - Michael Cunningham, award winning author  “2019 marks the bicentennial of Walt Whitman’s birth. We hope to celebrate Whitman’s groundbreaking contributions to literature by landmarking the site most associated with his seminal work by the time that key milestone arrives. I hope the Commission understands this is not about the architectural merit of 99 Ryerson Street but rather its incredibly significant cultural value.” - Professor Karen Karbiener, founder of the Walt Whitman Initiative “The city needs more landmarks like this one to help narrate the histories of LGBT Americans – and it needs to consider cultural landmarks seriously rather than aesthetic landmarks alone.” - Jay Shockley, co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project “If Whitman’s Leaves of Grass gave birth to American poetry, then Brooklyn is thebirthplace of our art, and 99 Ryerson Street is the last remaining cradle. The Commission needs to reconsider its initial rejection.” - Jason Koo, executive director and founder of Brooklyn Poets

Brad Vogel
528 supporters
Update posted 5 days ago

Petition to Barbara Holman, Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County

Support One of Troy's Most Historic Buildings and the Family Abuse Shelter's Mission

Each year, more than 1,000 elementary students tour downtown Troy to learn about the Underground Railroad. One of their stops is outside of 22 E. Franklin St., the former Trinity Episcopal Church, which was built between 1833 and 1835. In its basement, children of fugitive slaves attended Sunday school. Local legend also holds that an escaped slave eluded her pursuers inside the structure. The former Trinity Episcopal Church is a survivor. It is the only significant structure left in Troy with noteworthy ties to the Miami & Erie Canal. In fact, on its steps in July 1837, future U.S. president William Henry Harrison delivered a speech dedicating the canal. The church is one of only seven structures that remain across the entire downtown that date from Troy’s early settlement period, prior to the canal’s arrival. For months, interested citizens have worked diligently to find alternatives to demolition of this historic church, which is owned by the Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County. The shelter cares for people who are homeless or are victims of abuse next door inside the historic Franklin House at 16 E. Franklin St. The nonprofit shelter needs more space for its mission. Shelter officials are eyeing an addition to the Franklin House that would occupy property on which the church stands. Our citizens committee, Unity For Trinity, has identified ways to meet the Family Abuse Shelter’s expansion needs that do not require demolition of the church. Our group could have focused simply on saving the church, but we recognize and support the Family Abuse Shelter’s mission. In fact, some committee members donate to the Family Abuse Shelter. Our committee is solution-oriented and does not see the current situation as a choice between the Family Abuse Shelter’s mission and historic preservation. In fact, we are confident that there are several pragmatic paths to a “win-win” scenario for both the Family Abuse Shelter and for downtown Troy, whose comeback in recent years is due in large part to its historic buildings. The committee in December submitted a packet of information to Abuse Shelter officials for their consideration. The packet proposes two alternative locations in downtown Troy that would bring the Abuse Shelter’s operations under one roof in a new building that would cost far less to construct than the $2.3 million that the Abuse Shelter estimates it would cost to renovate and add on to 16 E. Franklin St. We understand that the Family Abuse Shelter has strong emotional ties to its current location after nearly 40 years there; the board also has a fiduciary responsibility to consider what makes the most financial sense for shelter operations and would be in the best interests of its clients in the future. It is worth noting several other social service agencies – among them Health Partners Free Clinic, Miami County Recovery Council, and the St. Patrick Soup Kitchen – have relocated as their needs have evolved. The packet also notes that, if the Family Abuse Shelter declined to move, there would be a way to reconfigure its proposed 6,045-square-foot addition in a way that would not require demolition of the church. Unfortunately, without meeting with the Unity for Trinity group to discuss these alternatives and possible ways to collaborate, Abuse Shelter officials indicated in a Feb. 1, 2018, column in the Troy Daily News that they are proceeding with the demolition of the church. The Family Abuse Shelter’s planning to date has been based on inaccurate conclusions that the former Trinity Church is in an advanced state of deterioration and is not historically significant. We have obtained authoritative opinions that indicate otherwise. In a Dec. 1 letter, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office wrote “it is clear that this property represents significant aspects of the history and development of the community.” The letter also states that the property “would very likely meet the requirements for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing component of a historic district.” Our committee would like to work with shelter officials, the city of Troy, and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office to expand the existing National Register-listed Public Square Historic District to include the church and other historically significant structures. Funding would be available for this work. In addition, a local contractor with significant expertise in historic preservation concluded that “this building is in need of repairs, not replacement.” Necessary repairs would cost less than $87,000. Unity for Trinity and several other organizations, including Troy Main Street, want to move forward with any solution that would support the Abuse Shelter while preserving this church building. We also believe that philanthropic foundations that will likely be called upon to contribute to the Family Abuse Shelter’s capital campaign would prefer funding a project that unites the community rather than divides it. We encourage you to share your thoughts on the former Trinity church with the Family Abuse Shelter by writing in care of shelter board member David Beitzel at 22 N. Short St., Troy, OH 45373, or email

Unity for Trinity
634 supporters