Press Release

After Successfully Securing $16 Million Increase In Federal Funding For Historic Preservation, Gillibrand Visits Historic Elmira To Push For Expansion Of National Registry Designation

May 7, 2018

Elmira, NY – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited historic Elmira and stood with local elected officials and community leaders to call on the National Park Service (NPS) to approve the boundary expansion for the Elmira Civic Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. In the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill, passed in March, Gillibrand secured an increase of $16 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, increasing the level of funding for this program to $96.91 million. Gillibrand recently led a bipartisan letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting additional funding for State Historic Preservation Offices and the Historic Preservation Fund in the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill. Federal funding for historic districts encourages and supports economic development and is critically important to the preservation and revitalization of communities throughout Upstate New York.

“When the National Park Service tells the story of American history, Elmira should be front and center in that story,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This historic site is going to be an amazing accomplishment. I’m proud to fight for this expanded designation, and I encourage everyone in the Elmira community to keep up their incredible work to show the country what an extraordinary place this is.”

“Elmira has a rich history that is reflected in our historic buildings and we are proud of that history. We would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for using Elmira as an example and supporting our efforts to utilize historic preservation as a tool in our revitalization,” said Elmira Mayor Daniel Mandell.

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires all states to have a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to preserve historical sites in the United States. SHPOs have an annual funding agreement with the National Park Service that requires a non-federal matching share equal to at least 40% of the federal allocation. After 10% of the federal share is reserved for grants to participating communities, funding is allocated for administration of programs required by federal statute. This includes historic resource survey work, the National Register Program administration, compliance review of federally funded and permitted projects, federal tax credit program implementation, and the Certified Local Government program. 

The text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter is available here and below:

Mr. Paul Daniel Smith

Deputy Director

National Park Service

1849 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20240

Dear Mr. Smith,

I write in support of the application to increase the boundary of the Elmira Civic Historic District to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. This expansion of the designation will bring further recognition to the City’s heritage and encourage economic development in the community.

The City of Elmira is located in the Southern Tier of Chemung County. The City of Elmira, also called “The Queen City,” was incorporated in the late 1800’s after being part of the Town Of Elmira and the Village of Elmira. The Chemung River, which flows eastward through the City, played a vital role in the early developments of the area, with the City becoming a central hub for the broader Southern Tier region.

The Elmira Civic Historic District officially opened in 1835 and has since been an important central location for the people of Elmira. The buildings in the District represent the development of Elmira during its early stages in the 19th and 20th centuries. On Christmas Eve, 1866, a fire destroyed most of the buildings in that area, but by 1869, the destroyed buildings were replaced. Many of these oldest surviving commercial and residential blocks in Elmira, however, are not included in the boundaries of the City’s current National Register designation that includes its original government and municipal buildings. The District is distinctive for the large concentration of historic structures which are used for civic, social, and educational functions. The expansion of the area recognized on the National will help to also preserve commercial and residential buildings in the Elmira Civic Historic District, allowing for more opportunities for economic development and community revitalization in the City of Elmira.

I ask that you please give this application your full consideration.