In late summer, 2011, arts and industry at Garnerville faced perhaps its greatest challenge to date. The Minisceongo Creek runs through the complex and once powered the mill, but heavy rains from Hurricane Irene forced a huge volume of water and debris through the mill raceway at the core of the complex. The Main Gallery and many studios sustained serious damage.
Since 1999, Seven to Save has mobilized community leaders and decision-makers to take action when historic resources are threatened,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. “A Seven to Save designation from the League delivers invaluable technical assistance, fosters increased media coverage and public awareness, and opens the door to grant assistance for endangered properties.”
The League’s Seven to Save designation focuses on the site’s historic importance and the Garnerville Arts Center’s commitment to rebuilding. Many historic downtowns and centers of light industry lost their very lifeblood as a result of damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The difficult choice faced by the Garnerville Arts Center and its tenants is emblematic of challenges faced by many around the state following the tropical storms in late August and September, 2011. The Preservation League will work with the Garnerville Arts Center to highlight the innovative model of adaptive use in this historic mill complex and spread the word that the Arts Center remains open for business.
The Garner Print Works was built in 1828 on the site of a former 1760s grist mill and is named after the Garner brothers, the second owners of the calico printing plant. At one time, the plant employed some 800 workers and grew to include the printing and dyeing of wool, cotton and linen. The plant closed briefly during the depression but was brought back to life in the 1930s by the Garnerville Holding Company, the current owner of the complex, which includes more than 30 buildings.
In the mid-1990’s, the Garnerville Holding Company began to make space in the underutilized industrial center available to artists. With its location just 30 miles from Manhattan, more than fifty artists and artisans soon established studios there. The not-for-profit GAGA Arts Center was incorporated in 2003 and over the next eight years sponsored the creation and celebration of art at the Garnerville complex through events, festivals, student educational opportunities, and open gallery space.
“We are pleased and so very grateful that the Preservation League, in designating Garnerville Arts Center a Seven to Save site, recognized not only the historic value of the Garnerville complex but the energy, passion and devotion of so many who have worked together to create a thriving cultural and small business environment here,” said Robin Rosenberg, President of Garnerville Arts Center. “It is our hope that the Seven to Save designation will open a new chapter in the history of this 200 year old complex, and that the greater preservation-minded community and art-loving community will join with us in our efforts to rebuild and re-create ourselves into a regional center for culture and commerce while helping to preserve our diamond in the rough.”
According to New York State Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange), “While New York State continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Irene, we need government to work with the private and non-profit sectors to preserve rich historic sites like Garnerville Arts Center. These sites are a tremendous economic asset to a region that prides itself on its cultural rebirth and artistic pride. I commend the Preservation League of New York State for its Seven to Save designation and I will continue to advocate for this in the state Senate.”
The inclusion of the Garnerville Arts Center on the Seven to Save list provides the opportunity for the League to work with local advocates to protect the complex. “With this program, we provide targeted support to seven of New York’s most important and endangered historic resources,” said Erin Tobin, the Preservation League’s eastern regional director for technical and grant programs. “Whether sites are threatened by insensitive, ineffective or insufficient public policies, general neglect, or, in some cases, outright demolition, we have a proven record of working with community advocates to save a number of significant properties.”
Since 1999, publicity and advocacy resulting from Seven to Save designation has led to the rehabilitation and reopening of the Oswego City Public Library, the rebirth ofMontauk Manor on Long Island, and the rededication of the once-abandoned George Harvey Justice Building in Binghamton along with successes at several other locations.
The Preservation League of New York State is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1974. The League invests in people and projects that champion the essential role of preservation in community revitalization, sustainable economic growth, and the protection of New York’s historic buildings and landscapes. It leads advocacy, economic development, and education programs all across the state.