Brooklyn gets first LGBTQ+ landmark with designation of Lesbian Herstory Archives

Commissioners on the town’s Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted to landmark the Park Slope headquarters of the Lesbian Herstory Archives in a public meeting Tuesday.

The vote adopted an Oct. 25 public hearing the place six individuals testified in assist of landmarking the constructing at 484 14th St. on account of its cultural significance. “Most lesbians don’t inherit queer culture from our parents, the Lesbian Herstory archives is our birthright and it’s the place where we can go to learn our own history,” LHA coordinating committee member Colette Denali Montoya-Sloan informed commissioners on the listening to.

She added that the constructing, owned outright by the nonprofit, is “intricately linked to lesbian life in New York City as the archival home of anyone who identifies as a former or current lesbian, or in any way with the word,” and stated all are welcome to go to and analysis, not simply lesbians. LPC additionally obtained 34 letters in assist of designation.

LPC Deputy Director of Research Margaret Herman informed commissioners the home is culturally vital as the house of the archives since 1991, “the nation’s oldest and largest collection of lesbian related historical material,” which was based out of an Upper West Side residence in 1974 by lesbian activists.

For the previous 30 years, the 1908 Axel Hedman-designed Park Slope home has been “a permanent headquarters that can serve as a direct response to the pervasive homophobia, sexism and lack of lesbian space that community had experienced throughout history,” Herman stated.

Photo by Susan De Vries

The home already sits inside Park Slope’s historic district, however given the district’s 1973 designation predated the arrival of the group there’s no point out of the constructing’s LGBTQ+ significance in metropolis data. Designating it a person landmark would enable for that recognition.

LPC Chair Sarah Carroll stated the designation would replicate an essential layer of historical past, “but have a more subtle regulatory impact” given it’s in the identical architectural type as the remainder of the historic district and already abides by these guidelines. She stated Lesbian Herstory Archives may set up a plaque in the event that they wished, one thing she signaled assist for.

“I’m really thrilled that we are voting on this building today. The Lesbian Herstory Archives is a nationally important organization and collection of LGBTQ+ historic materials and it’s really played an essential role in preserving and telling the most mostly unseen stories of a community of women, including many who have contributed to America’s cultural, political and social history,” Carroll stated.

“The Archives has made this row its home for over 30 years for 30 years and it’s long association and stewardship of the building have added this layer, and so while there may not be architectural changes that speak to it, I think that our designation will really highlight and celebrate this sort of layer, very significant layer, of the building and I’m delighted that our vote and on this designation draws attention to the importance of lesbian Herstory archives to New York City’s history and the country’s history and the LGBTQ+ community.”

Commissioner Michael Goldblum stated the designation was “one of a series of really important designations” Carroll had led the best way on “that relate to the cultural history of New York City, and its various communities over the last couple of years.” He stated he thought there have been probably many different culturally vital buildings within the metropolis that deserve this type of “recognition and thoughtful designation.”

Commissioner Fred Bland added that LHA’s designation “is right in line with our society and its movements” and stated it was vital that preservation sustain with societal actions.

“I have warned a little bit in the past that we’ve got to be careful about cultural designations because after all this is New York City, every block has some interesting thing that happened on it, you know, and we have to be careful about those cultural significant happenings, but somehow this one is so obvious it’s hard to put into words why this is so appropriate, and maybe other kinds of cultural designations might not be so obvious. This one is just so obvious.”

In a press launch, project supervisor of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project Amanda Davis stated the group was thrilled the women-owned constructing was now formally acknowledged as a New York City landmark, “further solidifying the importance of including LGBTQ history in the broader narrative of American history.”

“The designation — the first for an LGBTQ site in Brooklyn — acknowledges the pioneering lesbian women who, nearly 50 years ago, came together to create an affirming space for their community. Perhaps most significantly, these women reclaimed their past by saving and preserving lesbian-related records, photographs and ephemera for future generations of queer women,” Davis stated.

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.

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