Architectural historian and historic preservation activist and consultant Dr. Samuel D. Gruber will receive the Jasena R. Foley Education Award from the Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY) at this year's annual Historic Preservation Awards ceremony on May 22, 2014, to be held at the High Peaks Club of the State Tower Building in downtown Syracuse at 6:00 p.m.
In choosing Gruber for the award, PACNY recognizes his “ongoing, sustained leadership and contribution to education, promotion, and advocacy of historic preservation in Central New York over the last 20 years and [his] vocal and public support of effort to preserve vital elements of the region's built environment, as well as numerous efforts to educate and inform the public about our rich historic legacy.”
Gruber has been active in community affairs since he moved to Syracuse in 1993 . He served for many years as a volunteer on the Preservation Association Board and as organization president, and also on many other civic and cultural committees. He was an early advocate for and an active participant in the creation of the Syracuse's Freedom Trail, celebrating the abolitionist mover and early Africa-American history of the city, and he has successfully advocated and helped negotiate the saving of many historic buildings in the region, including the Babcock-Shattuck house on the Eastside, which will also be recognized with an award. Last year, Gruber and colleague Bruce Harvey were engaged by the City to carry out a Cultural Resource Survey of the Washington Square area on the Northside, and this summer the pair will conduct a Religious Properties survey, also for the City.
“I am honored for my name to be included with so many distinguished and committed individuals who I admire and I have tried to emulate. Overall, the preservation ethic, and the practice of historic preservation is much improved since the time when I came to Syracuse, but there is much still to do. Education about the practical, historical, aesthetic, social and economic reasons for historic preservation projects needs to be constant.” Gruber is a frequenht lecturer in the community and has led walking tours throughout Syracuse and nearby towns for many years. This spring, for the third time, he is offering four tours of different parts of the Westcott neighborhood, where he lives, organized by the Westcott Neighborhood Association.
Gruber has been a part-time faculty member at Syracuse University where he has taught courses in Jewish studies and art history since 1994. Professionally, he is a cultural heritage consultant advising on a wide variety of national and international projects, and assisting many organizations and government agencies. Gruber is internationally recognized as a leader in the movement to document, protect and preserve sites of significance to Jewish heritage worldwide. In addition to having written several books and scores of articles, Gruber writes popular blogs about both Central New York and Jewish monuments.
The Jasena R. Foley Award is named after the former Onondaga Town Historian, who was a pioneer of the local historic preservation movement. It is presented “to individuals or groups who educate, promote, engender or advocate a preservation ethic in central New York.”
Since 1972, the Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY) has presented annual historic preservation awards to recognize owners, builders, artisans, designers, educators and activists who work to renew the beauty and utility of some of the region’s most distinctive architectural and notable historic sites. PACNY awards celebrate the success of preservation and its role in the economic, social, and cultural vitality of Central New York.