Bard Breakfast 2021
Familiar Faces In New Places
By Adrian Untermyer, Board Member
It was billed as preservation’s “Winter Wonderland”—and the 2021 Bard Birthday Breakfast Benefit did not disappoint.
On December 16, 2021, nearly 100 ardent preservationists convened inside the Upper East Side’s opulent Columbus Citizens Foundation to raise their coffees (and cannoli) in the air to toast two special honorees: the Archive Project, and 2021 Preservation Award-winner Yukie Ohta, founder of the SoHo Memory Project.
The 2021 “BBBB,” as it is known, resumed in-person that day for the first time since COVID-19 began ravaging Greater Gotham. From the very start of the Archive Project’s signature annual event, the Columbus Citizens Foundation’s 128-yearold townhouse found itself abuzz with the sound of old friends and new acquaintances, all connecting face-to-face at long, long last.
Although the venue was an unfamiliar setting for some, it became an instant hit. After ascending 8 East 69th Street’s august exterior staircase, attendees found themselves ensconced in a playland of lavish, hand-carved wood paneling, scintillating chandeliers festooned with wintry flare, and delectable breakfast bites reflecting the Italian heritage of the site. It all served as a perfect prelude for the events to come.
As the bell tolled nine, the festivities officially sprang into action. Lisa Ackerman, who serves both as the Archive Project’s chair and the Columbus Citizens Foundation’s executive director, welcomed the crowd with her signature grace. Archive Project founder and chair emeritus, Anthony C. Wood, rallied the troops with a stirring ode to the
spirit of preservation (and a memorable shout-out to the aforementioned cannoli). And the Archive Project’s executive director,
Brad Vogel, Esq., offered a poetic transition to the formal program.
Honoree Yukie Ohta took the floor from there, following an introduction by Andrew Berman of Village Preservation. In her humble, intricate address, Ohta described growing up in SoHo, a neighborhood rich in cultural and architectural heritage—but which increasingly finds its memories erased with each chain store installed and each longtime resident displaced. To combat this dynamic, Ohta founded an archive dedicated to preserving people, places, and stories so that future generations of Downtowners can learn from the magic of their collective past. Her address reminded all attendees of the potent power of personal action when history appears to be slipping away.
At the conclusion of Ohta’s remarks, the program transitioned to a timely panel discussion on the topic of preserving and analyzing master biographer Robert Caro’s personal and professional papers. Caro, author of The Power Broker, the quintessential biography of infamous municipal builder Robert Moses, recently entrusted his papers to the New-York Historical Society.
Moderator Dr. Valerie Paley led panelists Michael Miscione, John Reddick, and Michael Ryan in an animated discussion on the pleasures—and perils—of combing through a robust roster of documents assembled by Caro, a notorious stickler for detail whose personal motto remains “turn every page.” A question-and-answer period followed, which included questions from guests like Lloyd Zuckerberg and impromptu remarks from Arlene Simon, founder of Landmark West!
As the program drew to a close, guests nibbled their final cannoli and recessed to the grand entryway for a final surprise. There, your correspondent and fellow Archive Project board member Paul Onyx
Lozito treated attendees to a book table stacked to the rafters with Gotham themed tomes. Eager readers snatched up dog-eared copies of such chestnuts as Ada Louise Huxtable’s Goodbye History, Hello Hamburger—all donated by Joyce Mendelsohn, a fearless advocate for preserving the Lower East Side. “The books added an extra element of fun, humor, and surprise,” concluded attendee and historian Lucie Levine, founder of the Archive on
Parade walking tour company.
All volumes that did not find a new home that day found their way to Carnegie Hill Neighbors’ nascent public reading room. Much like the storied—and regrettably, departed—Municipal Art Society Library at
the Villard Houses, Carnegie Hill Neighbors will leverage Mendelsohn’s collection to inspire and inform the next generation of preservationists and urbanists as they peruse the stacks.
With bellies full, book bags bulging, and the essence of preservation invigorating their spirits, attendees bid adieu to their “Winter Wonderland” by 11 o’clock. And with that, another successful “BBBB” drew to a close—until next year!
For further information about the historic venue at 8 East 69th Street, we encourage you to explore page 403 of the designation report for the Upper East Side Historic District, available online at: http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/1051.pdf.
And to learn more about Albert Sprague Bard, namesake of the “BBBB,” please visit the Archive Project’s compendium online at https://www.nypap.org/preservation-history/albert-sprague-bard/.