News Release, February 3, 2012
The Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association (FIPNA) is proud to announce what they knew for some time, that the Fort Independence Historic District has been deemed eligible for listing on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.
Located in the Van Cortlandt Village section of the northwest Bronx inNew York City, the area was re-built on the ruins of an important Revolutionary fort. In the next century, the curvilinear winding street plan, drawn by Frederick Law Olmsted, was carved out of the topographical lines of the existing hills. This allowed exposure to the western expansive views overlooking the Harlem and Hudson valleys; as well as the eastern tract of land that was to become part of the Croton Aqueduct system — the park-like Jerome Park Reservoir. As the area developed into a residential enclave during the twentieth century, it gave birth to significant New York City housing trends, including the early cooperative apartment complex, the Sholem Aleichem Houses—declared National Register-eligible in 2011—and the first Mitchell Lama coops, Park Reservoir. This economically diverse area also boasts many well-preserved Tudor Revival and Colonial homes, and an intact group of 1920’s Garden Homes by famed architects Hopper and Koen.
This declaration of eligibility is based on a Cultural Resources Survey (“Survey”) commissioned by the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association and completed by architectural historian Anthony W. Robins. The survey was generously funded by a Jeffe grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with additional help from the Historic Districts Council, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, Councilman Oliver Koppell and neighborhood donations. The full Survey, along with contact information, can be found at www.fipna.org.
FIPNA, as part of Historic Districts Council 2012 “Six to Celebrate,” will now begin preparing its National Register nomination, which it hopes to have heard later this year.
“We want to thank the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Historic Districts Council, the State Historic Preservation Office, and all our great community partners for helping us make this happen,” said FIPNA president Kristin Hart. “Our neighborhood is unique in its many layers of history, still tantalizingly evident, and we are thrilled that its story will become better known to the community. We want to help more Bronx communities explore their pasts and start thinking about preservation.”
The New York State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) staff, Kathy Howe stated: “We encourage FIPNA to take the next step and garner support for listing of the eligible Fort Independence Park Historic District to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Listing to the Registers is a recognized and visible component of land-use planning and promotes the preservation and appreciation of historic resources. As the proposed historic district is located within a qualifying census tract, one of the tangible potential benefits of listing for contributing owner-occupied houses is eligibility for the New York State Historic Homeowner Rehabilitation Tax Credits. SHPO looks forward to continuing to work with FIPNA in preserving the unique character of the neighborhood and hope that FIPNA’s efforts in grass roots community preservation advocacy will serve as an inspiration for other neighborhoods in the Bronx.”