The Village of New Paltz Design Review Board & Historic Preservation Commission presented a 2022 “Partners in Preservation” award to Stewart’s Shops at a recent meeting of the Village Board of Trustees.
Stewart’s Shops was honored for the generous transfer of the historic Ann Oliver House to the Village of New Paltz. In the process of constructing a new location at the corner of North Chestnut Street and Henry W. Dubois Drive, Stewart’s agreed to section off a parcel and arranged for the Village to purchase the parcel and the historic 1885 house for the nominal sum of $1. After conducting a lengthy review of proposed uses, the Village awarded stewardship of the house and property to Esi Lewis, the daughter of beloved Black Studies Professor and civil rights advocate Margaret Wade-Lewis, who passed away in 2009.
The Village is currently in the process of legally transferring the house and parcel to the recently formed Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis Black History Cultural Center. The Village and Lewis are working together to secure grant funding to renovate the house. The MWL Center will be a repository and cultural hub for local, and national, Black history.
DRB & HPC chair Thomas Olsen comments that “this might be the most culturally significant Partners in Preservation award we have ever made. Stewart’s generosity and vision started the ball rolling toward the establishment of what will be an important cultural center to document and celebrate the lives and achievements of New Paltz’s Black community, including Jacob Wynkoop, who worked on the Ann Oliver House and was the principal builder for several other homes in New Paltz, as well as the parsonage for the A.M.E. Zion Church on Pencil Hill. Stewart’s part in this important achievement in historic preservation is a shining example of public-private cooperation, a model of how communities and corporations can work together for the common good. Were it not for their generosity and community-mindedness, and especially the efforts on the ground of Charles Marshall and Ryan Rubado, the house literally would have been lost forever.”
MWL Center founder and E.D. Esi Lewis adds, “the donation of the historic Ann Oliver House by Stewart’s Shops is a true testament to their community spirit and dedication to preserving the past for future generations. We, the Dr. Margaret Wade Lewis Center, are incredibly grateful for their generosity and support, and promise to honor and preserve the rich history of the Ann Oliver House. Thank you, Stewart’s Shops, for entrusting us with this precious piece of our shared heritage.”