Landmarks Conservancy Hails the Finest Souls of the City

by Michael Gross Photographed by Ben Hider
Friday, November 3, 2017

Peg Breen, the elegant President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy reeled off the lengthy list of the group’s Living Landmarks who were present at its 24th annual celebration of that select group of iconic New Yorkers at The Plaza last night so quickly, it was hard to catch them all. But among them were the evening’s host Paul Binder, its musical director Peter Duchin and Ray and Veronica Kelly who served as Honorary Co-Chairs for the evening.

Also in the sold-out house of more than 500 landmarks lovers in the landmark hotel’s ballroom were Living Landmarks Daryl Roth, Louise Hirschfeld and Lewis Cullman, Agnes Gund, Marian S. Heiskell, Larry Leeds, Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, E. John Rosenwald, Daryl Roth, and Nina and Tim Zagat, Barbara Taylor and Robert Bradford, and Mary McFadden.

All were present to witness as social diarist David Patrick Columbia, designer and philanthropist Suydam “Sydie” Lansing, architect, author architectural historian and educator Robert A.M. Stern, artist Frank Stella, cultural philanthropists Patsy and Jeff Tarr, art and science patrons Marica and Jan Vilcek, and the city’s most famous man in white, best-selling author Tom Wolfe, joined their exclusive cadre.

The event raised over $1.2 million for the vital nonprofit that celebrates, preserves and protects New York’s iconic buildings and its diverse neighborhoods from the threats of neglect, ignorance, avarice, and out-of-control development. No wonder Columbia, in accepting the first award, said, “Frankly, I’m in awe of my fellow landmarks tonight.”

“We are thrilled to become New York landmarks and even more to be living landmarks,” Patsy Tarr added before the Vilceks recalled arriving in New York as penniless immigrants, “It was love at first sight,” Jan Vilcek said. “We shall forever be grateful for that.” He then quoted E.B. White’s dictum that “No one should come to New York to live unless he’s willing to be lucky,” he said, “to which I would add, Amen!”

Stern, clad in a maroon velvet dinner jacket, gave the night’s most eloquent remarks. “I didn’t come from Czechoslovakia like the Vilceks—I come from Brooklyn—but my dream of New York was the same. They were on an airplane; I was on the F train—and I’m still on the F train,” he began. “Lest I sound like a Pollyanna …let me say that what I and very many others treasure most about this city—and it goes without saying in this crowd—is that, thanks to preservationists, so much from the past remains to enjoy and see reinvented and not embalmed. We use and re-use our past which is as it should be. However, there is much that can take place that is new, but as I look around, too much of what is new in our city seems shoddy and generic—stuff that could be realized anywhere. And too little respect is shown for our recent past.”

Among the crowd admiring these latest New York landmarks, and the landmarks they are committed to protect, were Candace and Rick Beinecke; Paul Beirne; Geoffrey Bradfield; Ildiko Butler; Bernadette Castro; Louise Hirschfeld and Lewis Cullman; Norma T. Dana; Joyce Dinkins; Jacqueline Weld Drake; Nina Griscom; Marjorie Gordon Reed; Martin and Jean Shafiroff; Carole Bailey and John French; Karyn McLaughlin Frist; Duane Hampton; Libba Stribling and Guy Robinson; Stephen Lash; Peter Pennoyer; Mark Gilbertson; Jo Carole Lauder; Bonnie Engelhardt Lautenberg; Larry Leeds; Virginia Coleman; Ambassador and Mrs. John Loeb; Stephen Meringoff; Sylvester Miniter; Louise Mirrer; Liz and Jeff Peek; Joanne and Daniel Rose; Pat Rosenwald; Steven Roth; Barbara and Frank Sciame; Carlo Scissura; Lesley Stahl and Aaron Latham; Wendy Stark; Gayfryd Steinberg and Michael Shnayerson; Kathryn Steinberg; Barbara and Donald Tober; and Nina and Tim Zagat.


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