Raiders Name In Question
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
Another Scarsdale tradition may soon become history. At the meeting of the Scarsdale School Board on Monday night March 27, Superintendent Drew Patrick made a sobering announcement. The New York State Board of Regents is expected to approve a ban on the use of indigenous names, logos, imagery or mascots at public schools.
Under the new regulations, the Board of Education would be required to adopt a resolution omitting the use of indigenous names, mascots or logos to be phased out no later than the end of the 2024 school year.
At a recent BOCES meeting, the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education left no doubt that Scarsdale would need to adapt when he specifically named the words “warriors, raiders and red raiders,” as examples of names that would be prohibited under the new regulations.
Curiously, the dictionary definition of the word “raider” has no mention or connection to indigenous tribes – and reads as follows:
-a person or thing that raids.
-a commando, ranger, or the like, specially trained to participate in military raids.
-a light, fast warship, aircraft, etc., used in such a raid.
-a person who seizes control of a company, as by secretly buying stock and gathering proxies.
-Informal. a person who works within an organization for the purpose of gathering evidence of wrongdoing.
But nonetheless, if the move is approved by the Board of Regents, “The Raiders,” would need to be changed.
Patrick said “It would be prudent to contemplate an alternative. While we monitor this, I have reached out to Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi and the leadership of Maroon and White.” He indicated that he would like the process of defining a new name to be an inclusive one with students and alumni. He said that a discussion of the name would be scheduled at an upcoming meeting of the Board of Education.
So make sure to hold on to any Raider's swag in your house - it could soon become a collector's item.
And if you have ideas for an alternative name, enter it in the comments section below:
Purchase Your Tickets for the Scarsdale Bowl Dinner
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
To the Scarsdale Community,
We hope that many of you will attend the Scarsdale Foundation Bowl Dinner on the evening of Thursday, April 27 at Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club. The dinner will honor Janice Starr for her years of extraordinary volunteerism. In addition, Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps will be recognized for going above and beyond in keeping our community safe during the pandemic.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Scarsdale Foundation and the entire community is invited to visit the Scarsdale Foundation website to view event details and purchase tickets!
In addition to attending the event, please also consider donating to the Scarsdale Foundation or becoming a Bowl Dinner sponsor. Funds raised at the dinner will help the Scarsdale Foundation provide need-based scholarships for Scarsdale students in their sophomore, junior and senior years of college. In addition, the Scarsdale Foundation also provides grants to select community organizations in order to help bolster and support the community’s overall well-being and pays for Village day camp tuition for children who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend due to their families’ financial hardship.
Volunteerism is at the heart of Scarsdale, and is what sets our community apart. Please join us as we celebrate a community of extraordinary volunteers on April 27!
Scarsdale Bowl Chair, 2023
Preservation Laws Put to the Test
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
Scarsdale’s preservation laws were once again put to the test by a prominent family who wishes to raze their legendary home on their way out of town. The Milstein family continued their quest to attain a demolition permit for the mid-century modern home of Paul and Irma Milstein at 76 Birchall Drive at an appeal before the Scarsdale Board of Trustees on Monday night February 27, 2023.
In September, the Committee for Historic Preservation (CHP), which has the authority to deem a house historic and worthy of preservation, denied the family the right to take it down in a narrow vote, as only five of the seven members were present. They found that it is one of the few remaining significant examples of mid-century modern architecture and that it is the work of a master architect, Simon B. Zelnik. They also concluded that 76 Birchall embodies the distinctive characteristic of a type of construction that possesses high artistic value.
In the hope of overturning the decision the family retained attorneys from Cuddy and Feder, architectural historian Emily Cooperman from Cherry Hill, NJ and Sherida Paulsen, a licensed architect, past president of the AIA and former chair of the NYC Landmarks Commission.
Sitting as a Board of Appeals, the Board of Trustees only invited the appellants to state their case, making for a very lopsided proceeding. Furthermore, the meeting date was only announced a few days before, making it difficult to schedule all involved. It was only after some objections from neighbors in the audience at the last minute that others were permitted to speak to defend the house.
Restating the facts of the case, Lucia Chiocchio of Cuddy and Feder argued that:
1) The original home, designed by architect Simon B. Zelnik, had been “significantly altered by three different architects,” and thus lost the integrity of the original design.
2) The house was not listed in the Cultural Reconnaissance Survey of Scarsdale done in 2012 by Li/Saltzman architects.
3) Architect Simon B. Zelnick was not a master despite the fact that he was an AIA design fellow, a professor, the architect of some significant buildings in New York and Riverdale and his work was published in architectural journals of the day.
4) The Committee for Historic Preservation had permitted the demolition of another one of Zelnik’s homes at 70 Morris Lane.
Sherida Paulsen then offered her own definition of a master, saying “a master has demonstrated significant influence, developed new methods of design and construction or new design and criteria and produced a body of drawings that influence architects in the future.”
She continued, “Zelnick’s buildings have not stood the test of time. Service to the profession is a key element. He was recognized by the Bronx chapter and successful on his third try to become an AIA Fellow in 1967 for architectural design and architectural education. In that application, he submitted the Riverdale Temple, the Joyce Theater and two Scarsdale residences. But he did not submit 76 Birchall…. He was a respected architect but did not have a lasting influence. I would urge the Board to support the application to demolish the building.
Emily Cooperman outlined changes to the footprint and roofline of the home, much of it on the back and sides of the house which are not visible to the street. But she nonetheless contended that the original design was compromised. She said, “It is difficult to see the changes as they used the same materials and the same style.”
She introduced yet another definition of a “Master,” saying “Zelnik was not a master, “There’s not generally recognized greatness in the field.” She said, “There is a distinction between a successful career and a master. Some of his works were published in architectural publications. But this is not a sign of his greatness.”
Rather than call in a member of the CHP who voted to preserve the house to defend it, Trustees called on CHP Chair Adam Lindenbaum who did not back the committee’s decision. Rather he said, “Our results were fractured. We are here before you to punt.” He ran through the Committee’s findings in a cursory fashion and offered no support for the committee’s decision to preserve the house. Though Lindenbaum did not volunteer the information, the two members of the CHP who were not present at the September meeting both indicated that they favored preserving it.
Professor Andrew Dolkart, an expert retained by the Village said, “I was asked to visit the house and make an assessment. I looked at the architectural drawing and permits and did some introductory research. As an advocate for preservation I came to my conclusion reluctantly– I did not feel it met the criteria for historic designation under the Village code.”
However he said, “I disagree with Emily Cooperman’s definition of master. I don’t think that Zelnik’s work is the work of a master. You need to look at the body of someone’s work. I don’t see Simon Zelnik rising to that level. I don’t think that the house retained its integrity. It lacks the integrity of Mr. Zelnik’s design.:
Trustee Jeremy Gans asked Lindenbaum why some members of the CHP who allowed 70 Morris Lane to be destroyed voted against a permit for 76 Birchall. Lindenbaum said he could not remember.
The Mayor said to Dolkart, “You only did a cursory review of the application and materials? To this, Dolkart replied, “The Joyce Theater is not notable. The temple is an exceptional building and there is a very nice in his use of stone.”
He was asked, “Did you review who lived in the building? Dolkart said, “I did not!” Though the Milsteins are an important family. One could argue that the Milstein’s are so significant that the alternations they made make this significant.”
Mark Behr, who is an architect who serves on the CHP sent the following letter to Lindenbaum before the September meeting but it was not shared with the public until the February 27, 2023 meeting. It said:
Dear Adam & Members of the Board,
Due to travel schedule, I am not available to attend the meeting this evening. I would like to provide my comments to the application of 76 Birchall as a member of the Board, someone who grew up in Scarsdale and has practiced Architecture in the Village for the past 20+ years. In earlier applications before us, I believe we did not have all the information pertinent and our understanding of Simon Zelnik’s contributions to the field of Architecture was limited to thinking he was a prominent but maybe not a Master in the field. I believe at this point that given the information we have received my opinion of that has changed and would consider Simon Zelnik a Master in his field.
While I appreciate his grandson’s submission of documentation and formal affidavit, none of the information contained in it was of influence to me. My decision is based on his inclusion as a Fellow in the AIA in both Design and Education. In submitting the application for Fellowship to the AIA 2 of the 6 works submitted were residents in Scarsdale and those 2 are as I understand it both gone at this point, one by our own Board’s action of approval for demolition (I would argue due to lack of information and research) and one to fire. 76 Birchall is the last remaining Zelnik Residence in Scarsdale which makes it that much more unique and historic.
In granting his Fellowship to the AIA, the applicant’s attorney said it took them 3 reviews to award him with Fellowship, that does not discount his induction any more than a ballplayer taking a couple voting cycles to be admitted to the Hall of Fame. You still need to meet the criteria and have excelled in the proposed area of the profession. In Mr. Zelnik’s case that was in Design and Education, 2 of the most crucial and influential fields in our profession.
I also feel as a practicing architect that the additions and renovations undertaken over the years does not diminish or negatively impact the design and aesthetics of the original design. In reviewing the original building plans and elevations and the current house, it still maintains the distinct characteristics, aesthetics and massing of the original design. Without the original plans and elevations and knowledge of the permitting history and fire, I would be hard pressed to identify what was the original house and what has been added on over the years.
For the reason’s stated above I cannot support the application for demolition.
I apologize for not being available for this meeting, but please include my comments as part of the public record.
Mark C. Behr, AIA
Richard Henry Behr Architect, P.C.
Lauren Bender, another CHP member who was not present the night of the September 2022 vote, came to the Monday hearing at the last minute to defend the house. She said if she had been at the meeting in September she would have voted to preserve 76 Birchall. She noted that she had been on the CHP for four years and regretted her vote to allow the demolition of the other Zelnik house at 70 Morris Lane. She said, “In all my years on the board that is my one regret. It was not well taken care, unlike the Milstein home which is well preserved and is one of the last mid-century modern homes in Scarsdale.”
Neighbor Jackie Cutler said she is an interior designer, who grew up across the street at 75 Birchall where her mom still lives and in attendance at the meeting. Cutler graduated from SHS and so did her sons. She went to Syracuse University where she was a double major in Architecture and Interior Design and did her thesis on Historic Preservation. She said, “Historic Preservation only has value if a community supports it. There are many beautiful colonials, Tudors, and split levels throughout Scarsdale, but few very fine examples of mid-century modern architecture such as 76 Birchall, I implore you to save 76 Birchall.”
Gayle Helman, who organized the campaign for the neighbors discussed the fact that the home was renovated. She said, “This is a residential community. Homes of stature are now 80 – 100 years old. They have to be renovated to meet today’s lifestyle. People are adding these rooms to accommodate modern life.”
The Mayor noted that the standards for preservation were too high – that anything that had been altered could not be saved?
She asked how long the trustees had to make their decision and was told that their work needed to be done by March 31, 2023.
Anticipating that the application for demolition will be approved, KOSL Builders are already advertising a new home to be built at 76 Birchall. See it here.
The grandson of architect Simon B. Zelnik, Bryan Zelnik, who is an architect himself, attended the appeal hearing and afterwards sent his comments on what he heard to Scarsdale10583. Below he offers evidence that Zelnik was a master, establishes the importance of preserving an example of mid-century modern architecture in Scarsdale and explains that all renovations were designed in keeping with the original home.
Read his comprehensive statement here:
The meeting lasted several hours as expected due to the issues at hand. The applicant was able to speak at length using the same arguments and graphics used in the previous CHP meetings. They also were able to bring a second “expert” witness. One of the applicant's consultants tried to downplay Simon B. Zelnik’s FAIA fellowships by comparing it to one she received for her service to the industry for something other than DESIGN or EDUCATION.
The two main arguments which relate to Criteria 3 and 4 of the Village Code were used to determine whether this house should be saved. The applicants realize it only takes one of the five criteria to preserve a house, so they tried to convince the Trustees that Simon B. Zelnik FAIA, was not a master by any definition, neither by the Villages simple straightforward definition of a “figure of generally recognized greatness in a field, a known craftsman of consummate skill, or an anonymous craftsman whose work is distinguishable from its others by its characteristic style and quality.” or any other definition did they think that Zelnik was a Master. They have brought multiple consultants who are to be “experts”, but the arguments, I find as a practicing architect (a 3rd generation Architect) weak and easily countered with documentary evidence. The documented fact is that, Simon B. Zelnik FAIA was recognized in his field by his alma mater, internationally famous Cooper Union, a 164 year old institution that produces world class architects, Engineers and Artists, which inducted Zelnik to their Hall of Fame in 2009 (Cooper Union Alumni Association | Alumni Profile: Simon Zelnik A 1924 (cooperalumni.org) and dedicated a profile page on their website of some of the highlights of his career. A recent “expert” claimed he never heard of him even though they attend the same school. I guess he never googled Zelnik’s name. It’s the first result with Cooper Union. Zelnik also was recognized in a national magazine article in Architectural Forum in 1948 for a Scarsdale residence which placed Scarsdale on the national and international stage for a mid-century modern design house with its wide reaching readers and Architects. The Jack Barracini house (now called the “playhouse”, was not destroyed by fire as the CHP chair previously thought until tonight, I corrected the record) which predated any modern residence and the Heathcote school publication in the same national journal 4 years prior in Scarsdale’s early mid-century modern history, and then with his peers of the Architecture profession with one of the greatest honors an architect can achieve described below:
Alumni Profile: Simon Zelnik A 1924
Simon Bernard Zelnik, A 1924 Simon Bernard Zelnik was born in Austria on June 3, 1894. He became a U.S. citizen.
According to the AIA: (1) DESIGN fellowship is granted “to architects who have produced extensive bodies of distinguished work that has been broadly recognized for its design excellence through design, urban design, or preservation. This may be accomplished through individual or organizational effort.”; and (2) EDUCATION fellowship “is granted to architects who have made notable contributions through their work in education, research, or literature. Work in education may be teaching, research, administration, or writing and should have a lasting impact, be widely recognized, and provide inspiration to others in the field and the profession.” Zelnik was the Dean at NYU School of Architecture.
A fellowship is AIA’s highest membership honor and recognizes the Architect’s “exceptional work and contributions to Architecture and society.” It is widely considered to be one of, if not the, most prestigious professional awards for design and educational achievements that an Architect can achieve, and is awarded only to the elite in the field - as the AIA explains it: “Architects who have made significant contributions to the profession and society and who exemplify architectural excellence can become a member of the College of Fellows. Only 3% of AIA members have this distinction. Mark Behr told the trustees that these honors are two of the most important honors an Architect can achieve. When asked directly if all works in the village of a Fellow of the AIA should be saved, he thought about it and then said yes. Every home of an AIA fellow for DESIGN should be saved in the village.
Professor Dolkart one of the authors of 2012 Reconnaissance Survey was present on Zoom. The report left Simon B. Zelnik off the report completely, even though Zelnik had all the recognition one needed to meet the Villages criteria of a master. Simon Zelnik FAIA was the first modern Architect in village history, which should automatically put him on the survey. This documentary evidence is based on Village’s Building Department Records of drawings in 1947, The AIA national Archive project history Zelnik submitted for his fellowship application, along with the published national Architectural Forum article of 1948 and with Dolkart’s own chronology of the 1950’s modern residences of the two other Fellows of Design Marcel Breur FAIA and Edgar Tafel, FAIA. Those two AIA fellows share the same exact title from the AIA for DESIGN. The three Architects including Zelnik share the same title for their ‘greatness’ for their DESIGN fellowships.
By the standard set by the applicant’s own expert, Dr. Emily Cooperman, Simon B. Zelnik is a Master Architect. In this regard, in a February 9, 2021 article, Scarsdale10583.com reported that while arguing for the demolition of another home (11 Dolma), Dr. Cooperman, “sought to demonstrate that Julius Gregory was not a master as he lacked ‘greatness,’ was not named a fellow of the AIA and entered competitions but did not win them.” According to the article, these contentions served as the primary basis for both Dr. Cooperman and the attorney who retained her to argue for demolition. Here, however, Mr. Zelnik is a fellow of the AIA, and did win four competitions in NYC as the AIA Archive documents state and he was nationally published in the Architectural Forum for the Jack Barracini House at 100 Mamaroneck Road.
In the late 1940s, Architectural Forum (“The Architectural Forum Magazine of Building”) was well established as the leading architectural journal of the time. Among other reasons, Architectural Forum was influential because the layout and language it used attracted a far larger audience than just members of the industry. Architectural Forum’s writers and editors analyzed and critiqued American architecture and urban planning. Some issues featured new buildings on its covers, while others were devoted to larger themes, such as urban planning, particular building types (schools were a favorite), individual cities, and the architectural profession.
While sitting in the audience last night, it was incomprehensible to me, as an Architect (who is practicing with handling multiple projects with clients every day) and also deeply respects Architectural history and preservation; that a four- time award winning, “successful "as mentioned last night, widely recognized talented New York City Architect with two Fellowships; Simon Zelnik is not at all addressed in the Dolkart Report? Especially since Zelnik designed three classic mid-century modern homes in Scarsdale, two of which were before 1950, the start date of the "other styles" section of the survey, and one of the Architects in Scarsdale history which was profiled in Architectural Forum in 1948.
I believe it tragic that the other two Zelnik designed homes have been destroyed by not being in the reconnaissance report and now the last surviving one is being discussed to be destroyed. Dolkart called the former Miller House , demolished in 2020 at 70 Morris Lane “mediocre” last night when asked about its design. Architecture can be subjective and even viewed with a bias even by a historian apparently. In contrast, The AIA Archive letter on March 20, 1967, congratulated Simon with his fellowship award letter for DESIGN and EDUCATION, the same jury of his peers (all Architects) asked him to bring only three photos from his submission they thought his best work of his long career. His Riverdale Temple that Dolkart praised at the meeting was not requested. They were photos of only his Scarsdale residential work: a detail and rear view of the published 1948 Barracini house for its unique design and the garden view of the rear of the Miller house at 70 Morris lane from 1963. The Fellowship Awards dinner that every other AIA Fellow selected that year would see his Scarsdale residential designs. The two houses have now been destroyed and erased from Scarsdale history. The jury of fellow Architects thought those two Scarsdale Residences works were the best to represent his contributions to the exceptional work to Architecture and society. If you listened last night, Zelnik design skills were nowhere to be found or heard other than from Mark Behr, CHP Architect.
Simon Zelnik's reputation was well known in New York City and to affluent Village of Scarsdale residents of the time who commissioned him, especially in light of his noted public city projects and awards (as detailed here). And as a result, there was a concerted and successful effort to preserve the architectural integrity of his design at 76 Birchall Drive by the last owners. Could the Millstein's have selected the 76 Birchall house because of the notoriety of Simon B. Zelnik in NYC, as possibly young future modernist as the 1935 New York Post shows him as with Frank Llyod Wright as one of the “Five Who Blend into the Machine Age” and the Birchall Drive house’s cutting-edge modernism compared to all the traditional styles in the village? Clearly the house and spectacular setting appealed initially and enough for them to live there with changes for another 60 years. If the house fire destroyed the home when they purchased it, why did they continue to live there and expand it with alterations to repair it rather than tear it down and start over on the site or move away? The Building Department application to rebuild post fire, only accounted for 5% of the house value then. Why would they hire “unknown” architects with all their wealth to “destroy” the original design and alter its original design integrity with multiple alterations as Dr. Cooperman stated last night. Did the Milsteins have no understanding of architecture and design even though they made their money in construction?
Both Mark Behr and I agree that the house has its original integrity and design from the initial Zelnik design contrary to the “experts” last night. I can safely represent my family and we all agree that 76 Birchall still maintains his original design. I would argue that position in court and it would be solid documentary Building Department evidence. I would also believe that Zelnik would have no issue with those changes as he was a humble man with no ego and let his work speak for him. His mastery is that he designed almost every project typology and then won awards for different projects types in the city and then when commissioned for a residence in Scarsdale, the home is nationally published for its new modern style. He would be happy that his work survived for 74 years at Birchall. I have studied the drawings from the Scarsdale Building Department archives and found all of them, even the “missing” ones post fire and can conclude that his integrity and initial design are still intact and virtually unchanged. There have been changes as claimed and I acknowledge them, but the house remains a Zelnik design.
As a practicing architect, I can advise the CHP that when one creates an addition or alteration and elects to "match present in every respect" as all the drawings indicated, it means that the architects and client (Milstein) deeply respected the original design and indeed wanted to preserve its integrity in every aspect. This preservation by subsequent architects and owner pays homage to the original design and does not compromise the architectural appearance. Zelnik was so well known in Scarsdale, the owners asked for help on 11 Dolma Road, a traditional styled house even though Zelnik only worked on modern designs.
The Heathcote School is a significant piece of modern architecture by Perkins and Will in Scarsdale history as documented. It is to be noted that the Heathcote school has been significantly altered from that 1952 Architectural Forum Article and added to with several pods or clusters and additions since its original 1952 design. No one has issues with those significant changes to the school made with Architects KG&D (not the original architects)but the applicant tonight is making an entire argument that that two additional garage bays and other some minor alterations that match materials (some newer material in back) and design in every sense of the original 1949 design with a slightly higher roof based on the massing change can completely alter the original design of the an entire house? That has been their argument for months, as a practicing Architect, I find it a ridiculous argument and not a shared professional view. Even to an Architects trained eye, without reviewing all the filed drawings and permit applications, all the subsequent alteration and expansions using the original formal vocabulary and palette of materials, no architect or “expert” would be able to determine, if those additions existed. None of the alterations or additions conflicted or altered the originality of the 1949 Zelnik design. Mark Behr stated the same. I agree and studied all the drawings to compare with all the changes.
The 1950 Marcel Breuer FAIA Pack house on the Dolkart survey had a later addition in 1956 by his associate, Herbert Beckhard, created an addition that borrowed Breuer’s formal vocabulary and palette of materials added to it which completely changed its footprint from L-shaped to U-shaped thus creating a courtyard and doubled the house in size, but it still remains Marcel Breur’s design and no mention in the Dolkart report of the changes.
The Heathcote School still remains Perkins and Will Design, as it should even though KG&D created an addition of a new multi-purpose room, small instruction rooms and a new entry space according to their website. These are two examples of additions and changes that occur every day in architecture and are part of the profession. Space is always needed and functions change, architecture is the profession of solving problems with creative solutions and additions of space, if needed. To suggest, as the applicant did last night, the additions that blend into the house and match all materials, when possible and available, change the design is a very weak argument. Families and schools need more space and create additions to account for growing families or to bring the families together with informal entertaining and activities. This was the basis of the Barracini house and the work of a master in 1947 to create new spaces that brought the family together in new ways. The Barricini informal house was cited by Architectural Forum not only for its cutting edge design in 1948 but for his use of space and historic programmatic features of luxury spaces and informal entertaining for the family, possibly for the first time in American mid-century modern luxury residential history the article highlights. The role of the architect, Zelnik, was to place that mid-century house on the site and take advantage of views and connect with nature for the family to enjoy. The design didn’t waste time with the front of the house, he spent it on the back elevations, which by today’s standard is still an amazing design considering it was designed in 1947!
The Guggenheim added a tower for more gallery space by Gwathmey and Seigel, is it still the Guggenheim that Frank Lloyd Wrights designed. What Gwathmey had done is to improve and restore, nearly doubling the museum’s space. He has opened up spaces previously dedicated to offices and storage and has included four new floors of galleries and operating spaces to accommodate the more than 6,000 pieces of art in the Guggenheim collection. The mayor was concerned with the strict interpretation the applicants tried to illustrate. If it was to be held, no architecture could be added to any residence, school or building. Architecture allows you to redesign and expand if you do it tastefully and seamlessly as shown with examples.
The precedent would mean that no house could survive in Scarsdale if a Fellow of the AIA designed houses are torn down. Professor Dolkart noted in the defense for saving the house at 11 Dolma Road by architect Julius Gregory, that the work designed in 1941 by “noted Architect Simon Zelnik specified that all new work to match present in every respect.” Dolkart also notes in another article and also conveyed somewhat last night that Zelnik’s Birchall House found that “76 Birchall is a rare example of a mid-century modern in Scarsdale and it has some very handsome features notably the massing and stonework of the front elevation.”
My understanding is when a piece of architecture is described as “rare” as being exceptional, extraordinary , unique, remarkable, does that not make a house worthy of a reconnaissance survey; especially by the author of the research? Dolkart also when asked, added that the grounds, the setting of the house, the use of Japanese maples made the whole site beautiful. Only one person is responsible for the creation of the house and its masterful placement on the site, Simon B. Zelnik made this house one of the most beautiful , iconic, and last surviving mid- century moderns in the village. I would argue that there is no other residence in the village that comes close to its mid-century aesthetics and feeling from that Architectural period. In the prior meeting, I was moved by one of the CHP members who argued and then voted to save the house, that in 30 years of real estate, he never cried when viewing a house as Birchall. That is the power of architecture, that is what a Master’s design can do. Another member, who argued and then voted to save the house, to paraphrase, stated that if we are not saving this house, what are we doing here? If this house is not saved, I would agree you will not need a historic commission. If those two missing CHP members were all present that night it would be a 4-3 vote to save.
Zelnik was also a master in his use of materials and new ideal of space, he was said by the applicant to be only a “city architect” designing Four award winning projects in retail with six theaters Eljin (now Joyce), restaurants like Lindy’s and Child’s restaurants , Barracani Candy Stores, a Bank, Synagogues, Department stores, and Professional Design Awards:1st Prize for Four (4) Project types: Shopping Center and Restaurant (before AIA license 1949) 1st Prize for Baracini Store in 1951 years after Barracini House published in 1948 Architectural Forum, 1st Prize for Fine Arts Theater by the Motion Picture Association Receiver of "Cooper Union Centennial Award," 33 years after graduation- First Recipient of Award by Cooper Union President listed on website
Simon Zelnik FAIA epitomized the mid-century modern approach to residential design. He embraced the international style and influences of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius and created his own distinctive Architectural style. He was a visionary and master of materials and was one the first to do it on American soil. All of Simon Zelnik’s Scarsdale home designs used open floor plans, with an emphasis on outdoor living, and a seamless indoor/outdoor flow by way of large windows or decks and terraces . Simon Zelnik’s use of material employed natural stone and stained wood blended into his design, without the decoration of the revival styles. He never designed in revival styles and rather created his own style, the AIA recognized that.
While the opposition (those who are on the side of preservation of the Village’s limited modern architecture history), the residents only are allowed a few minutes (3 min) each to speak. The highlight was to hear the expert testimony of the CHP’s Architect, Mark Behr who spoke directly to the Trustees on his position, which I found extremely honest, factual, powerful and moving. A resident Architect who practices in Scarsdale and an extremely important CHP member. He was asked by a Trustee what it means to be a fellow of the AIA for design and education. He stated it is like being selected to the Hall of Fame of Sports, which is the highest level equivalent an Architect can achieve for their body of work.
There is no debate that allows discussion to argue or bring facts to the table as an extremely important topic of preservation, the ability to preserve the Architectural history of a limited time period in this country where architecture changed after the second world war . That time period called the Mid-Century Modern (MCM) was a new unchartered design movement that moved away from traditional architectural styles and designed spaces to a new way of family living, embracing nature and the surroundings, large windows clean lines, a lack of ornamentation, open floor plans and a functionality-based interior design. The early modern European and American Architects led way to a new generation of young American Architects those who were embracing this new modern. way where the applicants are able to speak at length while the opposition (those who are the side of preservation of Village’s limited modern architecture history), the residents only are allowed a few minutes each to speak. I was challenged by the CHP Chair months ago to get all the information I could on Simon Zelnik. It is been known, that I have done the research about his fellowship, that some CHP members and Dolkart said they wish they had prior to making decisions. My feelings were mixed as always when hearing hired consultants speak about Simon B. Zelnik and his legacy, specifically Scarsdale’s mid-century modern architectural history. I’m always surprised that there is even a debate about preserving a mid–century Master’s work in a village when it documents only a handful of them when surveyed and now even less of them as two were destroyed by lack of information or research.
The house clearly is unique and of the mid-century period and the façade is virtually unchanged to even a professional trained eye as both Architects tonight agreed. This house needs to be preserved for as Simon B. Zelnik was critical to Scarsdale modern architecture history as the first to produce modern architecture and the first to be published nationally, this is the last house of his work in the Village and it should be saved for future generations.
Movie Night: "Greenacres Tales" at Scarsdale Library
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
The Scarsdale Historical Society is pleased to announce its newest documentary film titled, ‘Greenacres Tales: Building a Scarsdale Community.’ The film explores the people, places and events that shaped the formation of Greenacres—developed as “one of the finest communities” in Westchester County. There will be two screenings, each with a Q&A session to follow, at the Scarsdale Public Library on Wednesday March 15th at 6:00 PM and 7:30 PM.
The film explores the streets, homes and local landmarks of Greenacres through archival photography, documents and present-day footage. There is also expert commentary, including appearances by local historians and residents, Barbara Shay MacDonald, Jordan Copeland, Randy Guggenheimer, Leslie Chang, Marc and Jay Shulman, Andrew Sereysky and Rev. Katherine Pater. The film features original music by Marc Shulman, and is written and directed by Lesley Topping, an award-winning editor and filmmaker who grew up in Scarsdale.
“In this documentary, we are pleased to shine a light on Greenacres and its development from a rural community into the suburban neighborhood it is today,” stated Randy Guggenheimer, President of the Scarsdale Historical Society. “This is the latest in a series of films about Scarsdale’s neighborhoods, and the project will preserve and strengthen the community’s connection to our past.”
Following the 30-minute film, there will be a Q&A session with Topping and special guests. Admission is free. The event is co-sponsored by the Scarsdale Historical Society and the Scarsdale Public Library.
The public can register for the premiere here.
Scarsdale On Ice: History Exhibit Opening at Scarsdale Public Library
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Category: The Goods
The Scarsdale Historical Society is pleased to announce an opening reception for its new exhibit, “Scarsdale On Ice,” in partnership with Scarsdale Living Magazine and Scarsdale Public Library. The exhibit, which will be on display at the library for the month of March, provides a chronicle of Scarsdalians enjoying their favorite winter pastimes in locations all around town. The archival photography, dating back as far as the 1910’s, will include residents ice skating, sledding, skiing and playing paddle tennis. The opening reception is on Wednesday, March 1st from 7:00-8:30 PM at Scarsdale Public Library.
At the reception, Leslie Chang, trustee of the Scarsdale Historical Society, will highlight stories and local tidbits about the Village’s rich history of experiences shaped by snow and ice. The exhibit coincides with an article in the new Winter/Spring issue of Scarsdale Living Magazine, where Chang uncovers knowledge about Scarsdale’s history with winter leisure sports. The research examines which pastimes have prevailed, and which ones have (literally) melted away.
The exhibit and the accompanying magazine article were inspired by the wealth of winter photos from the archives of the Scarsdale Public Library, Westchester County Government, Fox Meadow Tennis Club and Scarsdale Golf Club. The photos will spark curiosity and give clues to the life and culture of Scarsdale’s past.
A special highlight of the exhibit will be a celebration of Scarsdale’s contribution to the world of sports - the invention of paddle tennis at Fox Meadow Tennis Club. The outdoor racquet sport, also called “platform tennis,” is generally played in cool weather. Thanks to some creative club members and a risky venture during the Great Depression, the sport grew in popularity to become a nationally recognized sport. Today, the Scarsdale Recreation Department hosts six platform tennis courts for use by residents.
“We anticipate that visitors will be mesmerized by the range of activities captured on film, sometimes in the most unexpected locations,” stated Randy Guggenheimer, President of the Scarsdale Historical Society. “We are thrilled to bring this compilation of photos to life so that they can be appreciated in one place as the remarkable artifacts that they are.”
Admission is free but RSVP is requested for the reception. The event is co-sponsored by the Scarsdale Historical Society and the Scarsdale Public Library.
The public can register for the opening reception here.
Top Photo: Sumner “Killy” Kilmarx and Clifford Couch, winners of the first national men’s tournament held at the Fox Meadow Tennis Club in 1935. Credit: Fox Meadow Tennis Club
About the Scarsdale Historical Society
The Scarsdale Historical Society exists to discover, preserve and disseminate historical information, as well as inspire others to learn about and contribute to the history of Scarsdale and the Central Mid-Westchester Region. The Scarsdale Historical Society accepts grant applications for projects that meet its mission, particularly those that will inspire others to learn about the history of Scarsdale and the surrounding communities. Learn more here.