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Historic Elmira, Inc. Presents Seven Local Winners with Sixth Annual Preservation Awards

ELMIRA, NY March 19, 2014 - Historic Elmira presented their Sixth Annual Preservation Awards at an event held in Elmira College's Hamilton Hall. Advocate Awards were presented to Ken and Kay Ernest, Bruce and Susan Chalmers, and Nykole Parks. Project Awards were presented to Lake Street Presbyterian Church, Elmira College's Cowles Hall, The Gillett House, and Lake Street Campus of Chemung County Government. "This is the 150th Anniversary year for the City of Elmira. Our Awards celebrate the spirit that is also part of our history - those people who appreciate our history, preserve it so that we can know and enjoy it, and help pass it on to the future," said Kaye Newbury, President of Historic Elmira, Inc. The Advocate Award celebrates government officials, community leaders, local business owners, journalists, and private citizens who passionately value and demonstrate their advocacy for our historic and architectural heritage through active involvement in the community. The Advocate Award is also open to groups or organizations currently engaged in promoting historic preservation in the Elmira area. Ken and Kay Ernest received an Advocate Award for their volunteerism with the Brand Park Beautification Project. "What a remarkable couple," wrote their nominator as they detailed the long list of community organizations the Ernests devote their time-the Elmira Garden Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Southport Volunteer Fire Company. As part of the Brand Park Beautification Project, the Ernests planted and maintained three flower beds, built park benches, cleaned the bandstand, and helped with the construction of the pavilion.

The second Advocate Award was presented to Bruce and Susan Chalmers for their preservation and celebration of Elmira's history at their Church Street property. Outside English Gardens grace the neighborhood with manicured natural beauty, while inside the home the 1872 haberdashery of H Strauss Inc. and residence has been restored to its historical Tudor Revival grandeur. "Now furnished in the Empire Period," explained the nominator, "it brings a compliment from all who enter." The third Advocate Award was presented to Nykole Parks for her work on behalf of the Maxwell Place Firehouse. After being elected to the Elmira City Council, Parks "began to address issues that would improve the quality of life of everyone in her district, and in Elmira as a whole," stated her nominator. The Maxwell Place Firehouse, built in 1897, represents the historical trends of firehouse architecture at the turn of the 20th century. The doors closed in 1986, but this winter Parks worked with schools and community members to envision a brighter future for the firehouse. Due to Parks's efforts, the structure has been listed on the New York State Preservation League's statewide list of Seven to Save for 2014. The Project Award recognizes historic preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive reuse projects in the Elmira area that contribute to the appearance, character, and value of our local neighborhoods and community. A Project Award was given to the Lake Street Presbyterian Church for the restoration of the cupola. Extensively damaged in the 2012 tornado, the entire dome and cupola had to be removed and replaced. Welliver was able to weatherproof structure as well as replicate the octagonal cupola, completing the plans with a flat seam copper roof. Internally, E.M. Pfaff & Son of Horseheads, NY custom-built the cupola in two sections "each requiring intricate dental work and attention to detail," stated the nomination. The Lake Street Presbyterian Church stands not only as a historic gem of Elmira, but also as a vital community resource. With the restoration project completed, the Church may continue, as best described by their nominator, "to be the beacon for the community and the individuals that use their programs and services." The church celebrated their 150th anniversary in 2011. The second Project Award was presented to Elmira College for the architectural preservation and reconstruction of Cowles Hall. Over a decade in the making, the project "balanced urgent structural stabilization with sensitive reconstruction of the original exterior details while achieving current standards for accessibility, energy and safety," explained the nomination. Engineers inserted the steel framework to support the original exterior walls, and reconstructed the belvedere and six-story octagonal rotunda. Artisans crafted the custom installations including the masonry, stained glass, and statues. Since reopening in 2012, the culmination of the engineering and artisanal efforts has resulted in a building that moves the college forward in regards to sustainability while honoring the past with architectural details and the recreation of the historic "Society Rooms."

The third Project Award was presented to James Capriotti for the renovation of the Gillett House at 378 West Church Street. Capriotti, winner of a Project Award in 2011 and an Angel in the Architecture award in 2013, returns to accept an award for his skillful adaptation of the Gillett House from a deteriorating vacancy into quality contemporary residences. The home is "one of only five replications of the Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts," stated the nomination. Capriotti balanced intelligently updating practical elements with restoring the historical elements and preserving as much as possible windows, doors, walls, woodwork, and flooring. The nomination described how the overall effect of the Gillett house renovation "sets the bar for others to emulate and which to aspire." Tom Santulli accepted the fourth Project Award for the Lake Street Campus of the Chemung County Government. The five building campus includes the Courthouse Complex and the Hazlett Building. Under his leadership, the nomination detailed numerous cosmetic improvements to the buildings and grounds that enhance "the continuum of community history they proudly represent to this day." The mission of Historic Elmira, Inc. is to champion historic preservation in the Elmira region by providing education, advocacy, collaboration, and facilitation in activities supporting preservation and enhancements of buildings and sites of historic significance.

Media Contact: Kaye C. Newbury, President, Historic Elmira
Telephone: (607) 731-0395
Email: knewbury@historicelmira.org

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Historic Elmira, Inc.
PO Box 252, Elmira, NY 14902