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Evelyn Haynes: Insights from the Archive of a Preservation Pioneer

Evelyn G. Haynes (1909–2001) was a dedicated preservationist and a member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission during its earliest days. Her family donated a collection of her records to Village Preservation, which are now available on our website. You can also see her contribution of many beautiful pictures of historic buildings of Lower Manhattan and New York City in the 1960s to our Historic Image Archive here.

Much of this archival material is connected to the creation of the Greenwich Village Historic District, the architecture of Greenwich Village row houses, and early landmarking efforts in New York City. These materials provide a fascinating record of the early preservation movement in New York City, and of some of our city’s great landmarks decades ago when their futures were in doubt. 

A native New Yorker, Haynes was an editor at Vogue, where she worked from the 1930s to the mid-1950s. Her letters and correspondence are fascinating and an incredibly important insider’s look at preservation history as it was being made. For example, in this correspondence from May 25 and 26th, 1968, Verna Smalls writes to August Hekscher to implore him to appoint Villager Ruth Wittenberg to the LPC as a commissioner. This is following Hayne’s first letter to Hekscher which was dated May 22, 1968, in which she was unaware that Wittenberg “could be persuaded” to serve as a commissioner.

There are a number of fascinating maps, showing different proposals for the boundaries of historic districts to be considered in Greenwich Village, particularly one large district vs. eighteen smaller non-contiguous ones.

This November 15, 1965 map details boundaries and exclusions from the proposed Greenwich Village Historic District. See this and other maps here.

The proposed maps were contentious. Haynes documents statements from officials and organizations in support of Proposal 1, which would designate Greenwich Village as one united historic district.

Prominent writers included: the Association of Village Homeowners; Giorgio Cavaglieri, the architect for the restoration and preservation of the Jefferson Market Library; and James Fitch, the architecture professor in charge of the graduate program in Restoration and Preservation of Historic Architecture at Columbia University. The alternative solution would have been to break Greenwich Village into eighteen smaller separate historic districts, shown on the alternative map. These testimonies from community members advocate for Proposal 1, which they believed would strengthen the Village’s overall culture and history. Public hearings for Proposal 1 took place on February 7, 1967.

One of the many testimonies in favor of a contiguous Greenwich Village Historic District. See this and others here.

In 1969 Haynes conducted extensive research into theory and analysis pertaining to colors used in different architectural styles in different historic districts in New York City. This report includes evidence gathered from 19th-century photographic and written resources from the New York Historical Society and the Museum of the City of New York to support her research on different architectural styles’ characteristics. Haynes analyzes the Greek Revival’s significance in the city in the 1820s to 1840s, and we have her handwritten notes on doorway color significance. This memo, sent to the LPC on July 15, 1969, details the results of her efforts.

This is of course just a small part of Haynes’ archive rich and incredibly meaningful and useful archive which can now be found on our website. You can see Part 1 of her collection here and Part 2 here, and her contribution to our Historic Image Archive here.

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