The Parrott Hall Coalition announced last week that Crawford & Stearns, Architects and Preservation Planners LLC, working with engineering firm Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt, are creating stabilization and roof replacement documents for the first phase of Parrott Hall’s rehabilitation.
Clinton Brown Company Architecture, pc will complete a feasibility study for Parrott Hall. This project is funded through the Preservation League of New York State’s prestigious Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund, as well as a grant from The Landmark Society of Western New York’s Preservation Grant Fund.
Left vacant for decades, the once majestic Parrott Hall is poised for a comeback thanks to the tireless efforts of grassroots preservationists working alongside longstanding preservation organizations. The effort to save Parrott Hall is led by a coalition that includes the Friends of Parrott Hall, City of Geneva, Preservation League of NYS, and The Landmark Society of Western New York.
In the summer of 2019, the City of Geneva finalized a license agreement with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) to manage Parrott Hall along with the private nonprofit Friends of Parrott Hall. The Preservation League and Landmark Society have joined a memorandum of understanding to their coalition partners stating their support of this preservation initiative. Members of the coalition were granted access to the building in June 2019 and they promptly began working together to assess the building and prioritize emergency repairs. The stabilization efforts that are now getting underway are the first step toward bringing this historic landmark back to active use.
Parrott Hall was built in the 1850s as the home of Louisa & Nehemiah Denton. In 1882, New York State purchased the house, outbuildings, and 125 acres of land so that the dwelling could house the headquarters of the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station (now called Cornell AgriTech). In 1950, it was renamed Parrott Hall in honor of Dr. Percival Parrott, the Station’s first entomologist and later director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. Its historical significance was officially recognized in 1971 when it was listed on both the NYS and National Registers of Historic Places. It was acquired by OPRHP in 1975 for the express purpose of creating a State Historic Site at Parrott Hall.
In early 2018, OPRHP slated Parrott Hall for demolition. Friends of Parrott Hall, with support from the Geneva Historical Society, rallied to save the building. The Preservation League and Landmark Society joined the cause and helped coordinate an assessment of the building to determine its structural integrity. Despite decades of deferred maintenance and a need for a new roof, the bones of the building remain good. The Parrott Hall coalition has since worked with OPRHP to remove the demolition order and find a way forward to save this historic site. Happily, Governor Cuomo announced a $400,000 Environmental Protection Fund grant for Parrott Hall in the 2018 Regional Economic Development Council awards.
“Parrott Hall was too important a building to see torn down,” said Bruce Reisch of the Friends of Parrott Hall. “Members of the community have rallied around preserving this historic structure, and the Friends of Parrott Hall are committed to seeing this building come back to life.”
“We believe that because of Parrott Hall’s historical significance, a reinvestment in the space complements Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Taste of New York initiative and investments in the neighboring AgriTech campus.” said Preservation League President Jay DiLorenzo. “We are all eager to see this historic building come to life again and act as a vital part of the Geneva landscape.”
“We have been so impressed with the support that the local community in Geneva, led by the Friends, has shown for reusing Parrott Hall,” said Landmark Society Executive Director Wayne Goodman. “With the financial support from New York State and the tireless work of our preservation partners, we are hopeful we can help turn this significant building into a community and economic asset in the city of Geneva.”
“We congratulate the Parrot Hall coalition for achieving this first critical step, and look forward to continuing to work with them as they develop a long-term plan for the site,” said NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Deputy Commissioner Daniel Mackay.
This project has already received considerable financial investment, speaking to the resonance this project has in the preservation community. The Preservation League facilitated a grant from the J.M. McDonald Foundation to fund Parrott Hall’s initial stabilization.
The Friends of Parrott Hall have also received an Endangered Properties Intervention Program loan from the Preservation League, in addition to the many donations received from its grassroots supporters.
“We are grateful for the local, regional and state support in this restoration and revitalization initiative,” said Geneva City Manager Sage Gerling. “Geneva embraces collective efforts, as communities thrive when investment is cultivated by the strategic and focused work by many contributors.”