The historical significance of two Bronx communities is being celebrated.
The Historic Districts Council named Arthur Avenue and Westchester Square as part of the Six to Celebrate 2018, an annual citywide list of historical preservation priorities for classic communities.
HDC honored the two communities by making them a part of the program after the business improvement districts in their respective areas, the Belmont BID and Westchester Square BID, applied for the distinction, said Kelly Carroll, HDC’s director of advocacy and community outreach.
HDC will create brochures about the historical attributes of the communities and host two walking tours featuring points of interest, she said.
Communities for Six to Celebrate are selected on the basis of geographic diversity and the quality of the goals of the applicants, said Carroll, adding that having BIDs or some other coalition back the campaigns often mean they have a greater chance of success.
“Both were excellent candidates in terms of their histories of the areas and their architecture,” said Carroll of Westchester Square and Arthur Avenue.
In the Westchester Square’s application, some of the goals of the BID’s campaign are to bring consciousness of historical buildings that are currently in the background to the forefront and create more signage so that the ordinary passerby will have a greater understanding of the role the area played in the Revolutionary War.
Lisa Sorin, Westchester Square BID executive director, said that the square was the scene of the Battle of Westchester Creek during the American Revolution, and also has the Huntington Free Library, St. Peter’s Church, as well as a war memorial, former courthouse building, Owen Dolen Park and the site of the historical Ferris Mansion.
“This is about showcasing the history of Westchester Square which we are really excited about,” said Sorin, adding that the BID has been looking to make the Square a destination for its historical roots for two years, and that this designation bolsters that effort.
“With this designation we are on the map as a historical place,” said Sorin.
She added that being a part of Six to Celebrate 2018 indicates that there is enough of an historical story in the Square to rank it a truly historical place.
With Arthur Avenue, the BID’s goals which HDC will assist with are creating an oral history project, developing a standardized tour highlighting the area’s history and helping BID utilize zoning to maintain historical signage, said Carroll.
Frank Franz, Belmont BID executive committee member and treasurer, said that the BID would like to develop its own tour to counter misinformation often disseminated by tour bus directors that come to the community.
“(HDC) is going to help us develop a tour and do a couple of tours,” said Franz, adding that they hope to develop a program that has tours of Arthur Avenue with docents.
To learn more about the Six to Celebrate 2018, visit hdc.org/