BY ALBERT AMATEAU | The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation on Thurs., June 7, will bestow eight awards on the people, places and institutions of the West Village, the East Village and Noho that contribute to their neighborhoods’ special character. Author Calvin Trillin will do the honors.
The society’s 22nd annual ceremony, including awards to City Councilmember Rosie Mendez and to Marilyn Appleberg, of the 10th and Stuyvesant Block Association, will take place at 6:30 p.m. at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium, at 66 W. 12th St.
Over the past 22 years, the society has given out more than 150 awards.
The 2012 award to Mendez, representing the Second Council District since 2006, honors her unflinching advocacy of historic preservation. She has helped secure preservation-friendly rezonings and landmark designations in the East Village and the Lower East Side. Her award citation notes that in the past year she was the only councilmember to vote against de-landmarking the 1817 building at 135 Bowery.
The 2012 award to Marilyn Appleberg, president of the 10th and Stuyvesant Block Association, cites her efforts for more than 40 years to preserve and improve the neighborhood’s quality of life. She helped create the small Abe Lebewohl Park in front of St. Mark’s Church and spearheaded the effort to extend the St. Mark’s Historic District and to get it listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
This year’s awardees also include Little Red School House/Elisabeth Irwin High School (LREI), celebrating the 90th anniversary of its founding by the educational reformer and progressive education pioneer Elisabeth Irwin. Founded originally as a public school, the Little Red School House had to raise private funds during the Great Depression to remain in operation.
Little Red, at Bleecker St. and Sixth Ave., and the high school, at 40 Charlton St., remain true to their progressive roots to bring together children of various backgrounds.
In addition, the Lower East Side History Project, founded in 2006, is being honored for researching, documenting and preserving the history of the East Village and the Lower East Side. Project research has contributed to landmarking reports, school programs and guided tours, and is also available to the public for personal research. In 2009, L.E.S.H.P. joined other local cultural groups to open the East Village Visitors Center, at 308 Bowery.
The Bleecker St. sitting area renovation is receiving the Regina Kellerman Award for transforming the formerly rundown seating area at Bleecker and W. 11th Sts. next to the Bleecker Playground into an inviting, landscaped public green space. The 2012 renovation project is the result of public/private collaboration and tenacious efforts by local residents to transform the overlooked space.
The Sixth and B Garden, at E. Sixth St. and Avenue B, founded by neighbors in 1983, is being honored by G.V.S.H.P. for its 29 years of providing a haven for East Village vegetable growers and gardeners who focus on flora native to Manhattan. The garden also provides many free music, dance and theater programs open to the public.
Arturo’s Restaurant, at 106 West Houston St., is honored for continuing a proud neighborhood tradition of more than 50 years. Founded in 1957 by Arthur “Arturo” and Elizabeth “Betty” Giunta on MacDougal St., Arturo’s moved to its present location in 1963. While Arturo died in 2006 and Betty in 2007, their son Scott and daughter Lisa continue to feature the coal-oven pizza, live music and warm generosity that have made the place known and loved.
The preservation society is also honoring Foods of News York Tours for giving food-tasting and cultural walking tours through the West Village since 1999, recently adding Noho and Little Italy. The tours, which showcase specialty food shops and ethnic eateries, inform visitors and neighbors about ethnic and social history, as well as the importance of preservation. The award citation credits the tour with helping mom-and-pop stores stay afloat in a turbulent economic environment.