Bayside’s Fort Totten Park building receives Excellence in Historic Preservation Award

Screen Shot 2020-11-10 at 11.31.56 AM
Courtesy of the Preservation League of NYS

The Restoration and Adaptive Reuse of Building 207 in Bayside’s Fort Totten Park has been named one of this year’s Excellence in Historic Preservation award winners by the Preservation League of New York State. 

Since 1984, the Preservation League’s statewide awards program has highlighted projects, organizations, publications and individuals that exemplify best practices in historic preservation. The organization recognizes the people who are using historic preservation to build stronger neighborhoods, create local jobs, provide affordable housing and save places that are special to the public. 

This year’s nominations were particularly strong – so much so that the jury was compelled to award nine projects instead of the usual eight.

“Bringing this abandoned building back to life involved a remarkable public-private partnership, involving several city and state agencies, guided by the Parks Department staff,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League. “The Center for the Women of New York and Page Ayres Cowley Architects were wonderful stewards to bring this site back to active use.”

Building 207 was built in 1905. It is one of 80 purpose-built structures to house officers and soldiers, and one of over 100 buildings located within the 136-acre historic district Fort Totten Park in Bayside. 

The building had been vacant since 1969, before the Center for the Women of New York negotiated with the NYC Parks Department to turn it into their new headquarters in 2002.

Page Ayres Cowley Architecture LLC, the firm that led the restoration work, did a remarkable job adapting this site for modern, everyday use. Original details including fireplaces, built-in bookcases, pocket doors and tin ceilings were restored, while modern modifications made the building ADA-accessible.

Building 207 Exhibition and Board Room. (Courtesy of Preservation League)

“We typically research a building’s history to determine the extent of building and detail loss by seeking out earlier photographs. For this project, we knew this building was special when we found a postcard with a woman on horseback riding in front of the newly built Officer’s Quarters,” said Page Cowley, principal of Page Ayres Cowley Architecture. “What is equally rewarding is the extent of professionalism, teamwork and public support to bring this building back to its original appearance.”

Building 207 multi-purpose space. (Courtesy of Preservation League)

The restoration and adaptive reuse of Building 207 was funded in part by the New York State Legislature, the Queens borough president’s office and the New York City Council. 

The nine projects honored this year are strikingly different, but one thing that links them all is the connection they have to their respective communities, the League said.

“It reminds us that preservation is about people as much as it is about buildings. Good preservation takes care of our built environment, but it also takes care of our cities, towns and neighbors,” the League said. “Considering the year we’ve all had, it’s a nice change of pace to celebrate these successes – and remember how our field of historic preservation can bring us all together, even when we are far apart.”