Friday, February 29, 2008

Coffee Bark Moved to Sunday, March 2nd because of weather

Dear Friends,

With rain and a wintry mix expected tonight and tomorrow morning, we are moving this month's Coffee Bark to Sunday morning, March 2nd from 9am-11am. The weather is forecast as sunny on Sunday and I think we'll enjoy that time a lot more.

The Coffee Barks will continue on the first Saturday of every month after March (unless of inclement weather). Coffee Barks are a monthly event for dog owners to meet one another and discuss issues and volunteer opportunities in the dog run. Coffee, donuts and other refreshments provided.

We'll see you this Sunday at the St. Nick's Dog Run!


Friends of St. Nicholas Park

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coffee Bark Returns March 1st from 9-11am

The St. Nick's Dog Run Coffee Bark has been on hiatus since December and now returns next Saturday, March 1st from 9am-11am. Come socialize with fellow dog owners and discuss issues concerning St. Nicholas Park and St. Nick's Dog Run while enjoying coffee and breakfast treats.

The St. Nick's Dog Run is located in the middle of St. Nicholas Park between 136th and 137th streets.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 18, 2008

New York Times Article on the Hamilton Grange Move

Moving the Grange, and Twisting it Around, Too

Published: February 18, 2008

The idea is to restore Alexander Hamilton’s country home, the Grange, to a state that Hamilton himself would recognize.

Alexander Hamilton's country home, the Grange, in its original location, approximately on what is now West 143rd Street, between Convent Avenue and Hamilton Place. The front entrance faced southwest.

The question is: Would he be able to find the front door?

This spring, the National Park Service plans to move the Grange from a cramped nook on Convent Avenue to a far more generous setting in a hillside corner of nearby St. Nicholas Park in Upper Manhattan.

In doing so, the service will swing the house around to face West 141st Street. That means that the Grange’s front door will end up oriented northeast rather than southwest, as was intended by Hamilton and his architect, John McComb Jr., when the home was completed in 1802.

This is a grave concern to some preservationists, who believe the government is squandering a chance to authentically restore the home of a towering founding father.

“It’s Preservation 101 that the house should be retained in its original orientation,” said Ron Melichar, president of the Harlem Heights-West Harlem Community Preservation Organization. Orientation affects not only the exterior appearance but the way that light plays within the house’s octagonal parlor and dining room.

Darren Boch, a spokesman for the park service, said a southwest orientation “would defy common aesthetic sense” because it would leave the house facing the steep ridge from which City College rises.

“To the greatest degree possible, we’re trying to retrieve what has been lost to history: the character of Hamilton’s home as a freestanding mansion,” Mr. Boch said. He added, “The reasons for McComb’s orientation had to do with views and natural light, neither of which can be replicated, regardless of orientation, on the new site.”

Of course, there is a chance that visitors will be misled into thinking that the house was designed to front 141st Street, even though the gridiron street plan was drawn up a decade after the Grange was built. If the house instead turned its back on the street, there could be no such mistaken assumptions.

There may be more accommodating spots in the 23-acre park, but the 141st Street corner is particularly appropriate because it was once part of Hamilton’s estate, meaning that there is a 200-year-old connection between the building and its new setting.

One could argue that the Grange and the neighborhood around it are so transformed that orientation is scarcely a defining characteristic any longer. Or one could say, as preservationists do, that because so many changes have taken place, the government is obliged to maintain whatever original qualities can be preserved.

The case of the Grange illustrates an abiding tension in preservation between accommodating the public (in the interest of exposing as many people as possible to a historical structure) and striving for pinpoint accuracy.

The Grange is especially important because it is both a city landmark and a national memorial, a rare survivor from a time when Upper Manhattan was largely farmland, and a tremendous — though often overlooked — cultural resource in Harlem. It is the only surviving home associated with Hamilton.

More than just a pretty face on a $10 bill, Hamilton served in the Revolutionary War, wrote many of the Federalist Papers, served as the first secretary of the Treasury and founded the Bank of New York and The New York Post.

He was mortally wounded in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. The house was acquired in 1889 by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and moved two blocks south to its current site at 287 Convent Avenue, abutting the church. The entrance was moved to one side of the house. It came under park service stewardship in 1962.

The missing original entranceway, the front and back porches and other architectural features are to be restored as part of the $8.2 million project. When the house reopens to the public in the fall, it will occupy a verdant setting, visible from all four sides, for the first time in 119 years.

“Even given the differences of opinion on orientation, it’s going to be a happy day for the house when it finally moves,” said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation Department, which supports the park service plan.

So does the Landmarks Preservation Commission, saying that “the orientation of the house relates to its original siting as a mansion on a promontory.”

Robert B. Tierney, the commission chairman, is left with only one small concern.

“When the ghost of Alexander Hamilton returns to the Grange,” Mr. Tierney said, “I hope he doesn’t go in the back door by mistake.”

Article can be found here:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hamilton Grange Move Update
Feb 11, 2008

We have received an update on the scheduled move of the Hamilton Grange into St. Nicholas Park. Above is a photo of the excavation area where the Grange will be moving into. If you have any questions please contact us at

Darren Bock, National Parks Service

Work is underway in preparation of moving Hamilton Grange National
Memorial. The demolition of interior finishes in the basement is almost
complete and will continue over the next couple of weeks. Excavations in
St. Nicholas Park have been slowed by weather but should resume in the
coming days.

We reported in the January update that the Grange could move as early as
late March. However, due to the complex nature of the project, we are
currently projecting that the house will not be ready for its historic
journey until late May. The move schedule will remain in flux over the
coming weeks as the technical details and logistics are refined, and we
very much appreciate your patience. As soon as we have specific information
about the move dates, route and anticipated street closures, we will issue
another update.

If you have any questions, please contact the site supervisor, Albert
Atchison, at 212-666-1640.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Monthly Meeting This Tues Feb 12th 7-9pm

Dear Friends,

This Tuesday, February 12th, from 7pm-9pm, we will have a our Monthly Meeting at St. Mark's United Methodist Church located at 55 Edgecombe Ave. at the intersection of Edgecombe and St. Nicholas Ave. (Across from the park). Click here for a map.

We will be finalizing plans for our Annual Easter Festival scheduled for March 22nd. We need volunteers to help plan, organize and oordinate activities the day of the East Festival usually held from 2pm-4pm on a Saturday.

Please spread the word about our meeting. All are welcome!

Thanks and see you Tuesday evening at St. Mark's Church. If you have any questions please email us at

Friends of St. Nicholas Park

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Notes from Hamilton Grange Working Group

Dear Friends,

Below are notes from the January 24th meeting of the Friends of St. Nicholas Park Hamilton Grange Working Group. The purpose of the working group is to keep community appraised and involved in the relocation of the Grange. If you are interested in joining our next meeting it is next Thursday, February 7th at 7pm at St. Mark's United Methodist Church. If you have any questions you can contact us at

Part 1 - Meeting Goals

  • Make sure we are covering all avenues to keep community appraised and involved in the relocation of the Grange.

  • Make the move itself an event. This is a very important happening for the National Park Service so we need to generate as much local and national press as possible.

Part 2 – Update from National Park Service

  • RFP (Request for Proposal) has been submitted to contractor for subcontract and management of Integrated Pest Management Plan to address anticipated pest problem

  • The Alexander Hamilton statue is not included in contract to relocate grange to St. Nicolas Park. RFP has been submitted to contractor to get idea of what it would cost and entail to move it. Can we find a construction company who will do this pro bono?

Part 3 - Outreach to the Community

  • Two signs are being fabricated to be hung at construction site in St. Nicholas Park advising plans for the grange. A suggestion was made that one sign be hung at entrance to St Nicholas Park so someone who is entering park can review the information. Risa and Darren will be following up separately to discuss exact location.

  • Email updates are being sent via Hamilton Grange website about the move. All meeting attendees will be included in future mailings.

  • Leaflets are up on Convent Avenue area. Any future updates to community will be directed through William Mullin of the Friends of St. Nicholas Park. Flyers should also be put in bulletin boards around the park.

  • All future leaflet updates should be in both English and Spanish.

  • Schedule a separate meeting with residents of Convent Avenue and Hamilton Terrace to discuss logistics of relocation. Give 2 week lead-time for scheduling meeting

  • There should be a hard copy mailing to community detailing street closures and parking rules during move.

  • Liaison with CCNY architectural department so they are aware of the move.

  • Give information to principals of local schools so they can create a field trip for students. Ron and Winston will work on getting a listing of schools in area.

See if park rangers can go to schools to give a briefing on history of Grange and the relocation.

If they can’t make personal appearance can they supply a video that would give background on Alexander Hamilton and the Grange.

  • Local Churches should receive a separate letter so ministers can advise parishioners during services and/or include updates in bulletins. Ron will put together contact info for local churches.

Part 4 – Media Pitch Ideas

  • Lecture series leading up to the event.

  • Contact Ron Chernow – recent biographer of Alexander Hamilton

  • Contact association of NYS Historians – Brad will work on this

  • Bring in stands for viewing the move

  • History channel recently did a bio on Hamilton. Can we get them involved?

  • Other TV outlets; Discovery channel, HGTV, This Old House DIY etc

  • Can we use Columbia University publicity dept.?

  • Involve Columbia University faculty

  • Arrange lectures in different parks

  • Involve Bank of New York. Hamilton was the bank’s founder.

Next Meeting – Scheduled for February 7th at 7 pm at St Marks church

  • Invite following:

Block Associations

Pat Jones- Chairman, CB9

Jolinda Ruth Cogen, Precinct Community Commission

Keith Wright

Bill Perkins

Separate Meeting required to choreograph the relocation day. Meeting will be scheduled once actual date is confirmed.