The Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope has just made history by becoming the first LGTBQ+ landmark in Brooklyn.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted on the matter regarding the three-story row house at 484 14th Street, which houses the nation's "oldest and largest collection of lesbian-related historical material," last week.
"I am delighted the Commission has designated the home of the Lesbian Herstory Archives, an important community space and a nationally important collection of LGBTQ+ historical materials," said LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said in an official statement. "For over 30 years, the building has been the site of the Archives’ essential role in preserving and telling the stories of a mostly unseen community of women, including many who have contributed to America’s cultural, political, and social history. This designation draws attention to the importance of the Lesbian Herstory Archives to New York City and the country’s history and to LGBTQ+ communities."
A bit about the non-profit: founded back in 1974 by activists, including Joan Nestle and Deborah Edel, to highlight the importance of lesbian history while also creating a space where physical artifacts could be gathered, the organization has been run by volunteers since the very beginning, when the collection was housed in Nestle and Edel’s own apartment on the Upper West Side. In 1991, the Archives bought the now-landmarked row house, renovated it and turned it into the group’s headquarters.
"The lesbian community has played an immeasurable role in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and will forever be a vital piece of New York City’s past, present, and future," said mayor Eric Adams in an official statement. "By designating the Lesbian Herstory Archives—the first individual landmark in Brooklyn designated specifically for its LGBTQ+ significance—we pay tribute to this vital part of our collective history. This landmark reflects the incredible stories of lesbians, who, against all odds, fought for and achieved the equality and acceptance they deserved."
In other related news, the Commission will soon vote on whether to designate the oldest gay bar in NYC, Julius', an official landmark as well.
"This is a tremendously important step toward conferring much-needed recognition and protection upon this site, which played such an enormously important role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement," said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Village Preservation, in an official statement about the vote back in September. "LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius' are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased."