Dec 16, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
“Hilltop,” the Dorothy Riester house and art studio in the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, soon will be added to both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, according to an announcement from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
It was one of 33 properties the New York State Board for Historic Preservation last week recommended for inclusion to the two historic registers — and the only park in Madison County.
“This is a big deal, [but] for me it’s a recognition of Dorothy Riester,” said John Hunt, president of the SQHAP board of directors. “The studio is part of it too, along with the house — the state felt it important that the studio be included in the petition. So it’s really around Dorothy’s creation of the facility and her works.”
“Hilltop” was constructed in 1959-60 by Dorothy and Robert Riester. The building “incorporates elements of sculptor Dorothy Riester’s artistic background, including the sculptural concrete fireplace wall, textured barn board interior walls and a sand cast wall with embossed patterns and imbedded trinkets,” according to the press release.
Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, which consists of 104 acres of land and over four miles of hiking trails, is one of the first outdoor sculpture parks in the country. Its mission is to educate and engage the public through exhibitions, collections, interpretation and community outreach programs in the arts.
In 2011, the art park was rated as one of the top 10 sculpture parks in the world by National Geographic.
The SQHAP board began work two years ago to look into the requirements to apply for recognition as a state historic site, Hunt said.
“We were looking simply for the recognition. We felt it was a historic place and cultural mecca in the community,” he said. Also, he said, Riester herself, now 97 years-old, was beginning to ask the board if the house could be added to the historic register.
The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.
The SQHAP board finalized its application last week, and, unexpectedly, learned only a few days later that the art park had been unanimously recommended for inclusion on the register, Hunt said.
“We didn’t expect it to go as quickly as it did,” he said. “When I got press release, I printed it out and ran, I sprinted to Dorothy’s house. I wanted to be the first to tell her … she was thrilled, just thrilled.”
Hilltop will officially be named to the State Register of Historic Places once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, according to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Hunt said that should only take a few days. After that, the state parks are then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the national register. That is a three to four month process, Hunt said.
State and National Register-listing can assist property owners in revitalizing the structures, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.
“We’ll always be receptive to grant monies, but to me the overriding glow of this is the recognition it brings to the park and it brings to Dorothy,” Hunt said.
Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, located at 3883 Stone Quarry Road in Cazenovia, is open 365 days a year from dawn until dusk. For more information visit stonequarryhillartpark.org or call 655-3196.
To see the complete list of nominations for the state and national historic registers, visit the state parks website at nysparks.com/newsroom/press-releases/release.aspx?r=1076.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.