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Guide to the Carolyn Cassady Kent Papers
1984-2009
 MS 2920

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 20, 2021
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kent, Carolyn Cassady, 1935-2009
Title: Carolyn Cassady Kent papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1984-2009
Abstract: The collection includes Carolyn Cassady Kent's files, dating from about 1984-2009, concerning her activism in historic preservation in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City. Among the many preservation projects represented in the collection are those concerning the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, the neighborhood surrounding Columbia University, the Hamilton Grange, Hamilton Vaudeville Palace (Hamilton Theater), 440 Riverside Drive (Kent's residence), and others.
Quantity: 10 Linear feet in 10 record cartons.
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact manuscripts@nyhistory.org prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: MS 2920

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Biographical / Historical

Carolyn Cassady Kent (1935-2009) was, in the context of this collection, a historic preservationist active principally in matters concerning her New York City neighborbood of Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Born in Rochester, NY, Kent moved in 1966 to 440 Riverside Drive in Morningside Heights where she lived with her husband, Edward. She became active in preservation efforts initially in response to proposed alterations to the apartment building (the "Paterno") in which she lived. She became a member of Community Board 9 and established its committee on landmarks and preservation. In 1996, Kent co-founded the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee.

Kent was involved in several preservation actions, many successful, others not. Among these were her opposition to residence towers at Columbia University's Teachers College and on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and support for landmarking the Hamilton Theater, the Croton Aqueduct, the West 119th Street Gatehouse, and others. In 1991-92, Kent was also a co-curator of a photograph exhibition, "Heritage on the Heights," at the Surrogate's Court Building.

(The above note was derived from Carolyn Kent's biographical sketch on the website of The New York Preservation Archive Project: https://www.nypap.org/).

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Scope and Contents

The collection includes Carolyn Cassady Kent's files concerning her activism in historic preservation in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City. Particularly well-represented are Kent's involvement in opposition to the proposal for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to finance the construction of a high-rise student life residence facility for Columbia University's Teachers College on West 121st and 122nd streets; opposition to the proposal for real estate developer AvalonBay Communities Inc. to build rental apartment buildings on the Close of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine; proposed relocation of the Alexander Hamilton House (the "Hamilton Grange") from 287 Convent Avenue to St. Nicholas Park; and preservation of her apartment building, 440 Riverside Drive (the "Paterno"), and 435 Riverside (the "Colosseum"), among other projects.

The files include Kent's copies of agendas, minutes, notes, and other documents from her membership on Community Board 9, CB9's Committee on Landmarks and Historic Preservation, Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, and other organizations. These files include documentation of many proposals concerning preservation beyond those noted above. There are some files related to Kent's involvement with the "Heritage on the Heights" photograph exhibition.

Overall, the files include correspondence, legal opinions and filings, print-outs of emails, research reference material/print matter, fliers, copies of petitions, and photographs. The photographs are typically color snapshots of individual buildings or building details.

Arrangement

The collection has not been physically processed and so remains as received by N-YHS. Consequently, there is no particular overall order to the material. Nonetheless, the material is generally well-foldered and labeled within the boxes and is accessible.

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Access Points

Document Type

  • Legal documents.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Photographs.

Subject Organizations

  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York, N.Y.)
  • Columbia University
  • Community Board 9 (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.). Committee on Landmarks and Historic Preservation.
  • Morningside Heights Historic District Committee.

Subject Topics

  • Historic buildings -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Historic preservation -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Real estate development -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Women in community organization.

Subject Places

  • Hamilton Grange National Memorial (New York, N.Y.)
  • Morningside Heights (New York, N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers. Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact manuscripts@nyhistory.org prior to your research visit to coordinate access. Keep in mind that it will take between two (2) and five (5) business days for collections to arrive, and you should plan your research accordingly.

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff. Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: Carolyn Cassady Kent papers, MS 2920, New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Hannah Kent, Carolyn Kent's daughter, in 2011-12.

Processing Information

The collection has not been physically processed and remains in original folders as received by N-YHS. A finding aid describing the overall content of the collection to the box level was prepared by archivist Larry Weimer in August 2021. The box level descriptions, including date ranges, were based on skims of the material and are rough and approximate.

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Container List

Container 1     Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Box 1

Scope and Contents

Holds primarily files on Morningside Heights Historic District Committee meetings; Community Board 9 and committee meetings; reference material concerning Morningside Heights, West Harlem, and Riverside Drive; photographic slides of buildings on Riverside Drive, West 113th street, etc; and other related material.

1997-2005
Offsite-Box: 2 Box 2

Scope and Contents

Holds primarily files on opposition to the proposal for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to finance the construction of a high-rise student life residence facility for Teachers College on West 121st and 122nd streets.

2002-2007
Offsite-Box: 3 Box 3

Scope and Contents

Holds primarily files on efforts in opposition to the proposal for real estate developer AvalonBay Communities Inc. to build rental apartment buildings on the Close of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

2002-2007
Offsite-Box: 4 Box 4

Scope and Contents

This box continues with files related to efforts in opposition to the proposal for real estate developer AvalonBay Communities Inc. to build rental apartment buildings on the Close of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. (See also box 6.)

2006-2009
Offsite-Box: 5 Box 5

Scope and Contents

Holds primarily files concerning the controversy over the proposed relocation of the Alexander Hamilton House (the "Hamilton Grange") from 287 Convent Avenue to St. Nicholas Park. Also includes files on Sugar Hill Historic District, Community Board 9 meetings (1990s), Columbia University negotiations (2006), and other general files.

1990s-2008
Offsite-Box: 6 Box 6

Scope and Contents

Holds files on the early initiatives of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee (formed June 1996); preservation of the cornice of the St. Agnes apartment building at 41 Convent Avenue (1991); opposition to building on the Cathedral Close (see boxes 3 and 4); and some general files.

1991-2009
Offsite-Box: 6 Box 7

Scope and Contents

Includes a set of files from the 1980s-1990 related to 440 Riverside Drive (the "Paterno"), the building Kent resided in, and many files on various Community Board 9 matters from circa 2004-07, including landmark designation for the Hamilton Vaudeville Palace at Broadway and 146th street, among many others. Also includes a small box of color snapshots of various buildings.

1984-1990, 2004-2007
Offsite-Box: 8 Box 8

Scope and Contents

Holds various matters, primarily from the 1990s, including among others the proposed construction of the Amsterdam Nursing Home at the site of the Croton Aqueduct gatehouse/pipe yard; and preservation of 440 Riverside Drive (the "Paterno") and 435 Riverside (the "Colosseum"). Also general reference material, information on walking tours, an exhibition "Heritage on the Heights," and many color snapshots of buildings.

1989-2004
Offsite-Box: 9 Box 9

Scope and Contents

Holds primarily files from the early 1990s, with some files from the mid-2000s. The files relate primarily to the activities of Community Board 9's Committee on Landmarks and Historic Preservation; these concern several matters, especially the Hamilton Grange National Memorial.

1990s, 2006-2008
Offsite-Box: 10 Box 10

Scope and Contents

Holds files on various matters, especially issues concerning Columbia University, proposed expansion of the Hamilton Heights Historic District, the "Heritage on the Heights" exhibition, and others.

1990s-2007

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