Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Historic House Trust of New York City Inc

  • New York, NY
  • www.historichousetrust.org

Mission Statement

The Historic House Trust of New York City (HHT) is a nonprofit organization that operates in tandem with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to aid in and insure the preservation of 23 city-owned historic properties located in parks in all five boroughs. We believe historic sites are not static antiquities – they are living institutions uniquely poised to address current issues while retaining their connections to the past. HHT is therefore dedicated to preserving our sites, protecting their collections, engaging diverse audiences, educating visitors and sustaining the nonprofit organizations that operate our houses.

Main Programs

  1. Historic Building Conservation and Property Management
  2. Organizational Development Support
  3. Community Engagement
  4. Education and Public Programs
  5. Diverse Material Culture
Service Areas

Self-reported

New York

The historic houses and communities served by the Historic House Trust of New York City are located in the five boroughs of New York: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx.

ruling year

1991

Principal Officer

Self-reported

Franklin Vagnone

Keywords

Self-reported

Museum, Historic House, History, Preservation, Conservation, Curatorial, New York

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EIN

13-3590825

Also Known As

HHT

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Museum & Museum Activities (A50)

History Museums (A54)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

The Historic House Trust of New York City, Inc. supports a collection of 23 historic houses that annually serve more than 800,000 individuals.  HHT provides highly valued service that accomplishes several major goals:
 
Provides support for immediate structural concerns and repairs that arise at the historic houses.
Provides resources to the leadership at the houses to help them operate efficiently.
Provides unrestricted support to the nonprofit organizations that operate the historic houses.
Works to increase the relevance and visibility of the individual sites and to promote visitation to the collection as a whole.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Historic Building Conservation and Property Management

HHT’s main effort is ensuring the successful preservation of the irreplaceable historic houses in its care. HHT’s Architectural Conservator consults on and manages restoration projects at the sites ranging from small repairs to large-scale capital projects. As of November 2012, there are 19 capital projects, in design or in construction, throughout the five boroughs of New York City. In 2012, there were five “emergency” repairs – projects that supplement HHT’s capital work and are funded through private support for HHT. HHT’s dedicated Preservation Crew also undertakes small restoration projects at the sites to stave off larger architectural issues.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Budget

Program 2

Organizational Development Support

Once the buildings are stabilized, HHT provides resources to the leadership at the houses to help them operate efficiently. Community-based nonprofit organizations, with budgets ranging from $42,000 to $2.9 million annually, operate the historic houses as museums. HHT works to strengthen these organizations through annual financial support and capacity building opportunities including Board Governance workshops, quarterly roundtable meetings with House Directors, and oversight on strategic planning and fiscal management. There are over 600 volunteer Board members involved in the stewardship of HHT and its member houses.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Budget

Program 3

Community Engagement

With the buildings secure, HHT works to increase the relevance and visibility of the individual sites and to promote visitation to the collection as a whole. Through city-wide events and programs, HHT oversees activities that encourage public engagement in local communities
and invite visitors to explore the City’s history. HHT actively updates its lively Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages and has expanded its community engagement through multilingual publications and audio tours. Through its Roof Raisers Brigade and Edward I. Koch Intern and Fellow program, community members can volunteer their time and talents with HHT and its houses. Currently, there are over one thousand volunteers involved with the 23 member sites.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Budget

Program 4

Education and Public Programs

In December 2010, The New York Community Trust generously awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Historic House Trust to fund the development of a series of signature education programs at its historic houses. In 2012, HHT worked with the substantial majority of its sites to develop these programs and successfully launched eight of them. Thanks to the support of The New York Community Trust, to date over 25,000 people in all five boroughs have had the chance to experience New York City and its history in exciting ways—whether through the lens of a pinhole camera, with
a bilingual audioguide, by planting and cultivating vegetables, in an online Revolutionary War game, and through other interactive educational initiatives.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Budget

Program 5

Diverse Material Culture

To help protect and conserve the collections of the houses for the enjoyment of future audiences, HHT provides curatorial assistance to the sites in its collection. Many HHT member sites lack the resources to employ a curator; the HHT Curator fills this void by providing curatorial expertise and resources to staff and volunteers at the houses. Currently, HHT assists in the preservation and interpretation of over 90,000 house collections and artifacts. From a fragment of General Lafayette’s sash at Kingsland Homestead to a piano music book used by the Tredwell sisters at the Merchant’s House Museum to
a collar worn by Rufus King’s dog, HHT provides support for these collections and enables the houses to introduce their visitors to the stories told by these diverse objects.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

None

None

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    HHT believes in the importance of preserving New York City’s historic houses and the value of promoting the social and architectural history of the City through its residences. To address the restoration needs that threaten these landmarks, HHT exists to provide support to the houses in its collection through preservation projects and capacity building efforts. Advocating for the historic houses as a unified collection, HHT strives to provide programs, services and community engagement initiatives that strengthen each house individually and equally benefit the houses as a whole.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    HHT meets it mission by providing programs and services through five key program areas:

    Historic Building Conservation and Property Management: HHT’s main effort is ensuring the successful preservation of the irreplaceable historic houses in its care. HHT’s Architectural Conservator consults on and manages restoration projects at the sites ranging from small repairs to large-scale capital projects. HHT’s dedicated Preservation Crew also undertakes small restoration projects at the sites to stave off larger architectural issues.

    Organizational Development Support: Once the buildings are stabilized, HHT provides resources to the leadership at the houses to help them operate efficiently. Community-based nonprofit organizations, with budgets ranging from $42,000 to $2.9 million annually, operate the historic houses as museums. HHT works to strengthen these organizations through annual financial support and capacity building opportunities including Board Governance workshops, monthly meetings with House Directors, and oversight on strategic planning and fiscal management.

    Community Engagement: With the buildings secure, HHT works to increase the relevance and visibility of the individual sites and to promote visitation to the collection as a whole. Through citywide events and programs, HHT oversees activities that encourage public engagement in local communities and invite visitors to explore the City’s history. HHT actively updates its lively Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages and has expanded its community engagement through multilingual publications and descriptive audio tours for visitors with visual impairments. Through its Roof Raisers Brigade and Edward I. Koch Intern and Fellow program, community members can volunteer their time and talents with HHT and its houses. Currently, there are over one thousand volunteers involved with the 23 member sites.

    Education and Public Programs: HHT works with the houses to enhance their programs and set priorities. In recent years, HHT completed an exciting education initiative funded by the New York Community Trust by launching signature education programs at eight houses, reaching over 25,000 students. HHT has also launched programs based on forward-thinking ideas for historic house management. These include tactics designed to heighten the visitor experience and encourage connections to the site.

    Diverse Material Culture: To help protect and conserve the collections of the houses for the enjoyment of future audiences, HHT provides curatorial assistance to the sites. Many HHT member sites lack the resources to employ a curator; the HHT Curator fills this void by providing curatorial expertise and resources to staff and volunteers at the houses. Currently, HHT assists in the preservation and interpretation of over 90,000 house collections and artifacts.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The dedicated and knowledgeable Board & Staff at the Historic House Trust team fuel the organization's capabilities to meet its mission and provide comprehensive programs and services. Examples include:

    • community partnerships, museum exhibition and museum studies
    • material culture and collections management
    • cultural geography and community mapping
    • historic preservation policy and planning, government relations
    • visionary historic site leadership, site-specific contemporary art installations at historic houses and strong fiscal oversight
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    The Historic House Trust uses several indicators to measure the success and effectiveness of its programs and services. The organization works toward specific goals and regularly assesses its progress, recognizes successes and identifies areas that can be strengthened.

    Indicators of Success include:
    • Promotion of the mission of HHT and strengthen its key program areas
    • Expanded community engagement
    • Increased HHT collection cohesion
    • Increased public awareness of smaller cultural venues in New York City
    • Strengthening, maintainance and promotion of partnerships

    Methods of Measurement include:
    • Maintaining attendance records of HHT house visitors and event attendees
    • Maintaining records of financial support for HHT, its programs and events
    • Tracking the organization’s online presence (website, Facebook page, Twitter, etc.)
    • Soliciting regular feedback from donors, HHT houses, site visitors and other constituencies
    • Monitoring publicity coverage of HHT and its historic houses
    • Conducting annual Education and Programmatic Assessments with the houses
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Progress:
    Recent Accomplishments of HHT include:
    • Unveiling the Jeanette and Paul Wagner Educational Program for Children with Disabilities, an initiative that will make HHT sites more welcoming and engaging for children with physical disabilities and children with autism.
    • Entering the last stage of a $544,000 restoration of the Merchant’s House Museum.
    • Launching a pilot project with the Lewis H. Latimer House based on HHT’s “Anarchist Guide to Historic House Museums” that will equip the house with tools for sustainability by introducing an experimental, new model for historic site management and operation rooted in community engagement and sensory enhancement of the visitor experience.
    • Receiving a grant which enabled us to launch our new Roof Raisers Curatorial Brigade, a free program that trained 137 new volunteers who have already begun assisting with collections care at HHT sites.
    • Planning events through our Contemporary Art Partnerships program which bring site-specific contemporary art installations to HHT member sites.
    • 800,000 annual visitors to the houses, including 400,000 New York City schoolchildren
    • A premium on community engagement and public involvement that includes events like the Poe Plaster Party that invited people from across the country to apply interior plaster to the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage; festivals like the award-winning annual Historic House Festival that encourages movement between houses with events at all 23 houses over one fall weekend; and lectures like HHT’s “The New Historic House” Lecture Series that invites the public to react to new models of operation and ideas on historic houses from around the world
    • Programming for visitors with special needs, including audioguides for all 23 houses through a partnership with Art Beyond Sight
    • An integrated and active social media presence that includes lively Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages where HHT staff interacts with the public and shares behind-the-scenes information
    • An award-winning preservation newsletter with a circulation of over 4,000
    • A high-functioning board that drives HHT’s three-year strategic planning process, exceeds giving expectations, and works closely with staff throughout the year to offer expertise in areas like historic preservation, decorative arts, and management
    • A dedicated staff that has taught at many leading national institutions for architecture, historic preservation and museum studies, including Columbia University, Parsons the New School for Design, and the Cooperstown Graduate Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

New York

The historic houses and communities served by the Historic House Trust of New York City are located in the five boroughs of New York: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx.

Social Media

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

HISTORIC HOUSE TRUST OF NEW YORK CITY, INC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Historic House Trust of New York City Inc

Leadership

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  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
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Principal Officer

Franklin Vagnone

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

John C Gustafsson

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?