The Oral History Collection documents the experiences and perspectives of New York City preservationists.

By collecting eyewitness accounts and personal impressions of moments in preservation history, the Archive Project aims to create a verifiable record of the movement and ensure that the work of preservationists is not forgotten. These oral histories document those who were directly involved in much of the groundbreaking legislation and grassroots activism of the 20th and 21st centuries. Whenever possible, transcripts, audio recordings, video recordings, photographs, and other supporting documentation of the resulting interviews are made available on this website. If not uploaded on the website, these materials may be available upon request.

If you are interested in becoming involved with our oral history program by sharing your own preservation experiences, acting as an interviewer, or suggesting a potential figure to interview, please contact us.

The views expressed by contributors to this oral history collection do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York Preservation Archive Project. 

Use of Materials: All oral histories made available in this online collection are licensed under Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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Above: Main gate showing Richard J. Koke at Castle Clinton, August 2, 1961; Courtesy of David Hirsch

The Oral History Collection

George Burke

George Burke is the restorer of the historic Seguine Mansion on the South Shore of Staten Island, where he has lived and taken care of the property for over four decades.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
November 9, 2021
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Yonnette Fleming

Yonnette Fleming is an urban farmer who manages the Hattie Carthan Community Garden and adjacent community food projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She discusses preservationist Hattie Carthan’s efforts inspire her own.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
January 26, 2022
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Richard George

Richard George is the president of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association in Far Rockaway, Queens. He stewards a key remnant of the Far Rockaway Bungalow Colony.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
February 8, 2021
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Christabel Gough

Christabel Gough is a longtime citizen-monitor of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. She co-founded The Society for the Architecture of the City.

Interviewed by Adrian Untermyer
October 13, 2021
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Mary Habstritt

Mary Habstritt is the director of the Lilac Preservation Project and founder of the Historic Ships Coalition. She is a longtime advocate for industrial and waterfront preservation.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
June 26, 2020
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Alex Herrera

Herrera is a long-time preservationist who has directed preservation at both the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Landmarks Conservancy. He has stewarded preservation and restoration work at small-scale residential sites as well as landmarked locations and historic districts across his long career.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
July 21, 2022.
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Peggy King Jorde

Peggy King Jorde is a cultural projects consultant and expert on cultural heritage sites including the preservation of African burial grounds in the United States and abroad. She helped lead preservation efforts at the New York African Burial Ground National Monument and Interpretive Center.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
May 11, 2021
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Robert Kornfeld, Jr.

Robert Kornfeld, Jr. is a principal at Thornton Tomasetti. He was instrumental in preserving key elements at the Ground Zero site in Lower Manhattan.

Interviewed by: Sarah Dziedzic
May 6, 2021
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Shanna Sabio

Shanna Sabio is the co-founding director of GrowHouse Community Design and Development Group and a co-trustee of the Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition. Her work supports building inclusive communities through cooperative economics, public education, and reparative land ownership and stewardship.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
October 9, 2023
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Peter Pennoyer

Peter Pennoyer is the principal and founder of Peter Pennoyer Architects, a preservation architecture firm that designed the Art Deco-inspired clock in Moynihan Train Hall.

Interviewed by Sarah Dziedzic
October 25, 2023
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