Historic locations around the city will compete for a slice of a $3 million chunk of grant money offered through Partners in Preservation.
On April 26, 40 spots were selected to compete for the loot. Five can be found in Queens: Flushing Town Hall, the Rocket Thrower statue in Flushing Meadows Park, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Queens County Farm Museum and the Astoria Pool Olympic high dive.
“The Rocket Thrower statue is part of the Municipal Art Society adopt-a-sculpture project and would be the last of 20 sculptures to be restored,” said Meira Kerkower, city planner for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. “So it’s pretty exciting since it [adopt-a-sculpture project] started in 1987.”
Partners in Preservation is a program headed by American Express through the National Trust for Historic Preservation — an organization created by congressional charter to preserve historic landmarks — to give grant money to restore these unique spots. Since 2006 American Express has awarded $6.6 million to restoration projects in San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Seattle and Minneapolis-Saint Paul.
So how do these places win the money?
Anyone interested can vote for any of the 40 locations on the website partnersinpreservation.com or on its Facebook page from now until May 21. Voters can voice their opinion once a day for the whole month.
The four organizations with the most votes will win the full amount they requested. An advisory committee made up of civic, business and preservation leaders will divvy up the rest.
As of Wednesday the Brooklyn Public Library was in first place with 9 percent of the vote. The Louis Armstrong House Museum was in 13th place, the Astoria Pool Olympic high dive in 16th, the Queens County Farm Museum in 22nd, the Rocket Thrower statue in 33rd and the Flushing Town Hall in 37th place.
“No matter what happens we have learned better techniques for marketing, it excites the staff and brings energy to the staff and we make great contacts with other organizations,” the Queens County Farm Museum executive director Amy Boncardo said. “It’s a win just competing.”
Flushing Town Hall applied for $230,000 to replace and repaint caulk around windows, replace damaged glass panes, fix masonry joints, patch damaged stone bands, replace damaged bricks and repair cracks just in time for the building’s 150th birthday.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is asking for $250,000 to preserve Louis and Lucille’s garden. The house hosts summer jazz concerts and a three-day jazz festival for 1,600 school children, called Pops is Tops, both held in the garden.
‘The Garden was built for Louis. Hecelebrated his 71st birthday in his beloved garden, and then passed away two days later,” Jennifer Walden from the Louis Armstrong Museum said.
The Parks Department will use $245,000 to turn the unused Astoria Pool’s dive tank into a performance area with the Art Deco dive platform as a sculptural theater tower.
The Parks Department also is in the running for the restoration of the Rocket Thrower statue in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The department asked for $118,000 with the rest of the $188,000 project coming from the Municipal Art Society.
“This is a piece of public art work in the center of a heavily used park. It’s seen by many people. It would be great to have the sculpture restored,” Kerkower said.
Queens Country Farm Museum opened in 1697 and is the city’s only working historical farm. The farm has asked for $240,000 to restore farmhouse windows, clapboards and the summer kitchen, which is used to hatch new chickens so visitors can learn about the hatching process.
Each location will host an open house May 5 and 6 to show off its project’s need.