Joan Davidson

Daughter of J.M. Kaplan and President of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Joan Davidson (1927-2023) coordinated the founding of the Westbeth Project, an artist’s residence in the West Village. Joan was a lifelong preservationist and progressive champion, who promoted New York’s rich historic heritage and advocated for elevating a variety of voices and perspectives. She served as the head of both the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Parks Department, which also oversaw historic preservation. In addition to helping to create Westbeth in the late 1960s, she remained dedicated to its perpetuation and success. She was instrumental in Village Preservation’s successful efforts to have the entire complex listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and in securing landmark status for the complex, and funded our Westbeth oral history project of which this is a part.