Grand Army Plaza

The Daily Plant : Monday, June 14, 2004


On Wednesday, June 9, the Historic House Trust of New York City celebrated its 15th anniversary by honoring Deborah Krulewitch, Chair of the Board of Directors, at its fourth annual Founders Award Dinner at Gracie Mansion.

The Trust is a non-profit partner to Parks & Recreation for the preservation of historic houses located in public parks. Each of these sites is administered by a separate non-profit licensee dedicated to its continuing use as a museum. The Trust works with Parks & Recreation and the boards of the individual houses to restore, interpret and promote the sites; to educate residents and visitors about the social, economic and political history of New York City; and to contribute to the vitality of surrounding communities. Established to care for 16 houses, including Gracie Mansion, the Trust today oversees a growing collection of 22 historic properties throughout the five boroughs.

Deborah Krulewitch’s career in the preservation of historic public places started in 1984, when she spearheaded the first restoration of Gracie Mansion as Executive Director of the Gracie Mansion Conservancy. In 1988, she joined the Restoration of the Grand Army Plaza/Pulitzer Fountain Partnership, a project of the Central Park Conservancy. As Project Director, she imposed a voluntary "window tax" on every business with a view of Grand Army Plaza, successfully raising the funds for its restoration.

Building on the models she had established at Gracie Mansion and Grand Army Plaza, Deborah worked with a number of concerned citizens to create a similar public-private partnership to support the City’s historic houses. Along with Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who was then Director of Arts & Antiquities for Parks & Recreation, she became one of the founders of the Historic House Trust. She and former Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern officially launched the organization on the front steps of Gracie Mansion in 1989. Deborah has served as a member of the Board of Directors ever since, and was elected Chair of the Board in 2000.

Under her leadership, the Trust has expanded its collection of historic sites and the services it offers to support them. Since Deborah became Chair, three houses have joined the Trust, and four more have begun Parks & Recreation’s acquisition process. She has also encouraged a number of new initiatives, supporting the expansion of the Trust’s programs to add architectural conservation, property management and education consultation to the services available to the houses.

While maintaining her commitment to preserving New York City’s heritage, Deborah has also achieved great heights both professionally and in social service. An executive with the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. since 1988, she ensures the efficient day-to-day business operations of the executive area and corporate administration for the company as Senior Vice President for Corporate Administration. Deborah also oversees the companies’ charitable donation program and coordinates the worldwide Pink Ribbon campaign for breast cancer awareness. Active in community affairs, she serves on the boards of directors of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Cosmetic Executive Women, and Publicolor, a non-profit organization that transforms and enhances public spaces through color. She is also a member of the Executive Committee at the Coalition for the Homeless’s First Step Program, a job training program for underserved women.

Because the Trust was launched at Gracie Mansion, and because Deborah’s career in historic preservation began there, it was only appropriate to return to that historic house to celebrate her 15 years of dedication to the Historic House Trust’s success. More than 300 guests, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; Deputy Mayor Patti Harris; Queens Borough President Helen Marshall; Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin; Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission Bob Tierney; former Mayor David Dinkins; Leonard and Evelyn Lauder; Jack and Susan Rudin; and Joan K. Davidson, came to honor her on June 9. The event raised close to $450,000 to support the Trust’s houses and programs.


"I've always wanted to sell out. The problem is nobody wanted to buy me."

John Waters
(b. 1946)

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