State Parks receives federal grant for Henry Street Settlement

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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has received a $25,000 federal grant from the National Park Service to expand public recognition of New York City’s Henry Street Settlement National Register nomination and its association with LGBT history.

The grant, which was disclosed on Tuesday September 1, 2020, was made under the National Park Service’s Underrepresented Community Grants Program.

The program works towards diversifying nominations submitted to the National Register of Historic Places.

“This support is helping to build the public understanding of the significant contributions and influence of the LGBT community that up until now has largely been invisible,” said State Parks Commissioner, Erik Kulleseid.

“Recognizing the LGBT connection with the Henry Street Settlements National Register nomination will ensure that this history is protected, preserved and promoted for future generations to explore the diversity represented by this site,” he added.

The Henry Street Settlement was co-founded by Lillian Wald in 1893 as a public health facility to provide low or no cost medical services for the poor tenement neighborhoods of the Lower East Side.

Wald’s relationships with other women and her successful career separated her from the traditional household roles and norms expected of middle-class women at that time.

Under the grant, State Parks will help oversee preparation in amending the Henry Street Settlement nomination for historic register status to include the relevant LGBT history in the city.

“Building on our work to increase representation of LGBT people on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, we are excited to move forward with an amendment to the Henry Street Settlement’s nomination.

“Our work will acknowledge the same-sex relationships that personally and professionally shaped its founder, Lillian Wald,” said Amanda Davis, Project Manager of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.

“We are thrilled to partner with the staff at the Henry Street Settlement and we thank the New York State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service for continuing to support our efforts to make an invisible history visible,” he said.

According to Henry Street Public Historian, Katie Vogel, Henry Street Settlement is thrilled to work with the NYC LGBT historic sites team and the New York State Historic Preservation Office to update the National Register listing to reflect the important and little-known role that Henry Street founder Lillian Wald played in New York City queer history.

“We appreciate the National Park Service grant that will help to uncover the LGBT history of the Settlement,” said Vogel.

In 2014, State Parks received a $49,999 federal grant to launch the program.

This was followed by another $49,999 federal grant in 2016 and an additional $25,000 in 2019.

So far, seven New York City properties have been listed on the National Register as a result, with the most recent being the Church of the Holy Apostles, one of the most important meeting places in New York City for organizations of the early post-Stonewall gay rights movement.

The Stonewall Inn State Historic Site, a New York City tavern and site of a 1969 uprising widely recognized as a key turning point in the LGBT rights movement, was the first such site of its kind in the nation to be added to the Register of Historic Places in 2000.

State Parks has subcontracted the register listing project to the not-for-profit NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which so far has documented over 300 sites across the city, including residences, stores, performance venues, bars and restaurants, organizational and community spaces, medical facilities, and cultural and educational institutions.

In 2018, State Parks honored the NYC LGBT Sites Project team with a state Historic Preservation Award for its ground-breaking, nationally significant work.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 77 million people annually.

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