Events & News

In Memoriam

June 6, 2019

A crucial sponsor of the NYC Landmarks Law, Judge Seymour Boyers, passed away on January 7, 2019. A prominent attorney, politician, judge, and former City Council member, Seymour Boyers was one of three sponsors of the Landmarks Law passed by the Council in 1965. In a 2006 interview conducted by the Archive Project, Boyers drew on his personal records to recount the dynamics of the bill’s drafting, the perspectives of organizations and individuals who were consulted during the drafting process, and the political strategies that helped ensure the bill’s passage. The interview also touches on the legal landscape relating to landmarks in the first few years after the law was enacted.

William “Bill” Conklin died on November 22, 2018. Conklin, an architect and former vice chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, chaired the Historic City Committee, assembled to propose possible reforms to the NYC Landmarks Law in the 1980s. Known as the Conklin Report and formally titled “New York: The Historic City,” the committee’s recommendations proposed a redefinition of the Commission, an increase in its budget, and cyclical moratoriums on designation. Conklin is also known for restoring Brooklyn Borough Hall in the late 1980s and designing Butterfield House, considered one of the best examples of a modern infill building in a historic district that was sympathetic to its setting and yet retained its integrity as a modern design.

The Archive Project was saddened to learn of the death of Mimi Levitt on January 6, 2019. Levitt formed the Neighborhood Association to Preserve Fifth Avenue Houses in the 1970s to save a row of private homes from demolition. The group was ultimately unsuccessful in saving the homes, but through the courts, the group won the right to choose the architect of the new building being constructed at 1001 Fifth Avenue. From there, Levitt began advocating for the creation of a historic district. In her 2012 oral history with the Archive Project, Levitt describes the long effort to convince homeowners and businesses to support the designation of the Metropolitan Museum Historic District, and the process of hearings at the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission. She also speaks of the strategies that local neighborhood groups used to slow and prevent the demolition of buildings in the area. Levitt was one of the original members of the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts.