Morris Heights building wins prestigious restoration award

This stately building at 1771 Andrews Avenue, home of the South Bronx Job Corps., will be honored with a Lucy G. Moses Award from The New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Photo courtesy of The New York Landmarks Conservancy

A Morris Heights building that dates back more than a century is being recognized for its outstanding rehab.

A prestigious architectural award that celebrates the preservation of historic buildings, New York Landmarks Conservancy’s 2018 Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, will recognize the renovation of 1771 Andrews Avenue.

The Morris Heights building, which was built in 1908, currently houses the South Bronx Jobs Corps.

It recently underwent a three-year exterior renovation that was known at the U.S. Department of Labor site as ‘Project 1600,’ a source at SBJC said.

Peg Breen, NYLC president, said that NYC architects submit to a committee work they have completed in the previous year.

The committee selects the award winners, which recognizes organizations, architects, individuals and building owners for their contributions to historic building preservation.

The contest submission on the Andrews Avenue building came from DF Gibson Architects.

The committee was impressed by the South Bronx Jobs Corps Center building in part because it is rare building in terms of its design: an Elizabethan Jacobean Gothic revival-style building designed by Charles Brigham.

The building mimics several architectural styles found in western European buildings from the 12th to the 17th centuries.

“First of all, it is an unusual building,” said Breen. “There are not a lot of Elizabethan Jacobean Gothic revival buildings in this city.”

“This is just a gorgeous building and it is really interesting to us to see how it has been repurposed during the years: from a home for children to the Salvation Army to the Department of Labor,” said Breen.

She added: “It is a wonderful illustration of how older buildings can continue to be repurposed to serve people today, and certainly the Job Corps Center is performing an important purpose today.”

The restoration was complicated, and it took a very skilled team to restore, repair and clean the exterior of the building, said Breen, adding that it is first comprehensive exterior renovation of the building.

A SBJC source said that the project was the first major renovation of the building exterior since the U.S. DOL began using the property in 1978.

As part of the project, stonework was keyed, the original slate roof shingles were replaced by similar product, and ornamental accents were repaired, according to NYLC.

The building was first used as Messiah Home for Children, according to the organization.

Lloyd Ultan, borough historian, said the building was later used as a training school for the Salvation Army before it was abandoned for a time in the early 1970s.

The building sits atop a hill at Andrews Avenue and West Tremont Avenue, said Ultan, noting it is constructed out of dark red brick with limestone trim and gabled roofs.

Interestingly enough, said Ultan, the benefactor of the awards, Lucy Moses, is along with her husband the namesake of Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division in Norwood.

The Moses awards also paid homage in past years to restorations at Edgar Allan Poe Cottage in Fordham and the Enid Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden.

The award will be presented on Tuesday, May 8.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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