Sunday, October 30, 2011

Architectural Work of Little Known Architect Abraham Okun to Be Featured At Preservation Conference


For each of the past ten years, the first Sunday and Monday in November have brought to the Liberty Museum & Arts Center the two day Main Street Forum, better known as Preservation Sunday and Main Street Monday.

The Forum, which attracts planning professionals, developers, and public officials, as well as interested property owners, to Liberty for the two days, is presented by the New York Main Street Alliance and is co-sponsored by the New York State Urban Council, the New York State Planning Federation, the New York Conference of Mayors, The Catskill Center, and the Liberty Museum & Arts Center.

This is actually the 15th year for the Monday event, which will focus on cultural centers—libraries, movie theaters, museums, art galleries and the like-- and how they can anchor and define a community’s main street.

The Sunday program, which focuses specifically on historic preservation, was added to the schedule in 2002, making it a two day forum, and some of this year’s presentations will highlight the buildings of longtime Monticello architect Abraham Okun.

Okun was active during the middle years of the 20th century, designing a number of interesting local buildings which seem to have distinct elements in common, including the Associated Mutual Insurance Building in Woodridge, and Bruce’s Garage in Liberty. This year’s forum will feature a panel discussion of his work moderated by developer Ken Schmitt of Mountaindale as well as a look at his buildings through the eyes of talented photographer Louis Jawitz.

The Preservation Sunday conference has traditionally provided participants—many contemplating historic preservation projects of their own-- with guidance and inspiration, and this year is no exception. Besides the programs on Okun’s work, there are sessions dealing with restoring cultural buildings from an architect’s perspective and from a contractor’s perspective, and on using preservation as an economic development tool. Another session details the restoration of the Roxbury Arts Center in neighboring Delaware County.

This year’s events are scheduled for November 6 and 7. Each day’s events begin at 8 AM and sessions run throughout the day both days, culminating with a reception each evening at 7 PM.
Advanced registration is not required but is appreciated for the conferences, and can be accomplished by calling the Liberty Museum & Arts Center at 292-2394, or at

There is typically a charge for the Forum, but the Liberty Museum emphasizes that people should not let the cost stand in the way of attending if they are interested. “We do have several scholarships available to defray the cost of attendance,” they say. “People should call the museum to find out about them.”