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Staten Island Alice Austen House gets national historic designation, LGBTQ status
From a press release
2017-06-05

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June 5, 2017….Staten Island, NY…..On Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 11am EST, there will be a celebration at the Alice Austen House ( 2 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY ), for the formal announcement of the designation of Alice Austen House as a national site of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) history.

The designation marks an important milestone for this historic house in bringing forth the LGBTQ story represented there. Alice Austen House is a nationally landmarked museum devoted to the trailblazing American street photographer Alice Austen ( 1866-1952 ). Austen was in a loving and devoted relationship with Gertrude Tate for more than fifty years; nearly 30 of those years were lived together at the Austen family home that serves as the museum.

As part of an initiative of the National Park Service launched in 2014, the Alice Austen House's listing on the National Register of Historic Places has been amended to include LGBTQ history as an area of significance.

The updated amendment was written by Andrew S. Dolkart, Columbia University Professor of Historic Preservation, through the NYC LGBT Historic SitesProject, in collaboration with Alice Austen House and the New York State Office of Historic Preservation, made possible by a grant from the National Park Service.

AAH is the 14th site nationally to be designated under this initiative out of more than 92,000 places on the National Register. It is the 4th site in NYC and the first site in NYC devoted to a woman to receive such a designation.

During the event, photographer and activist Joan E. Biren ( JEB ) will speak. Biren is an award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker, and has been chronicling the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals for more than 30 years.

JEB will also present an artist talk the evening of June 20 at 7pm at the Alice Austen House, including a slide show outlining the historic nature of Alice Austen and lesbian photographers work as well as chronicling JEB's own photography.

About Alice Austen

Alice Austen ( 1866 - 1952 ) captured a changing New York City in more than 7000 photographs taken mostly around the turn of the twentieth century. Austen documented her life on Staten Island and went onto the streets of Manhattan to photograph the activities of immigrants and the working class. She was versatile and forged her own path without much regard for acceptable Victorian behavior for women. Austen was a master tennis player, an early advocate for women riding bicycles, founder of the Staten Island Garden Club, and is said to be the first woman on Staten Island to own a car. For more than fifty years, Austen was in a loving and devoted relationship with Gertrude Tate, nearly thirty of those years lived together at the Austen home.

About Alice Austen House

A vibrant cultural center, the Alice Austen House keeps the daring spirit of the early American photographer Alice Austen alive by presenting changing exhibitions of Austen's historic photographs and of contemporary photography, providing education programs for students, and offering a range of cultural programs for the public. A charming Victorian Gothic Cottage that was the Austen family home serves as the museum and is located in a lovely waterfront park on the shore of Staten Island near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge with sweeping views of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Alice Austen House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, operated by the Friends of Alice Austen House Inc 501( c )( 3 ) non-profit organization, and a member of Historic House Trust. The Alice Austen House is a New York City and National Landmark, on the Register of Historic Places and a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's distinctive group of Historic Artists' Homes and Studios.


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