Brownstone Revival Coalition

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Brownstone Revival Coalition Home Page

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December 6, 2012
7pm - 9pm

The Dorot
171 W. 85th Street

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The Brownstone Revival coalition posted a video from the 2011 Free Fall seminar.

Click here to view

“The Brownstone” is New York’s generic name for its row houses, most of them built in the nineteenth century.

The Brownstone Revival Committee of New York (BRC) was founded in 1968 by residents of brownstone communities to defend and preserve that housing and those old New York neighborhoods. Within two years it grew to 2,000 members. The first BRC lecture, by architectural historian, Clay Lancaster, drew an audience of 600, twice as many as the Donnell Library auditorium could seat.

In its early years, the organization focused on the critical problem of red-lining. We believe that our campaign with the mortgage departments of the major New York banks resulted in the breakthroughs which enabled hundreds of New Yorkers to buy brownstones on reasonable terms.

In 1974, to share the techniques of urban revival that we had developed with other cities around the country, BRC originated and was host to the First Back to the City conference. Out of this grew a sister organization, Back to the City, Inc., which over the following years sponsored thirteen Back to the City conferences in different cities around the country. Also for thirteen years, from 1973 to 1986, BRC co-sponsored with the Brooklyn Brownstone Conference the annual Brooklyn Brownstone Fair. This weekend fair, to which Brooklyn Union Gas Company gave its entire main floor on Montague Street, drew as many as 25,000 persons—possibly the best-attended preservation event in the United States.

The Brownstone Revival Committee was renamed the Brownstone Revival Coalition in 1996 and still exists today, although the neighborhoods it was created to defend no longer face the same threats.

The BRC’s program includes:

THE BROWNSTONER: our newsy newsletter offers information and advice on matters of interest and concern to old-house lovers and their communities, New York history, home maintenance, taxes, etc. Each year, we publish a calendar with old New York pictures


CRAFT HELP: based on the recommendations of our members and of trusted experts, we have maintained—and are now refreshing—a list of craftsmen and preservation specialists considered praiseworthy. Recommendations from our list are available to members. Typical queries: “Where can I find a good painter?”, “Do you know a good garden designer?”


BROWNSTONERS’ LECTURES, SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS: over the years, BRC has sponsored many, many lectures, seminars, and all-day workshops. Those popular talks and workshops feature a variety of subjects of interest to old-house owners and residents.


TOURS of various kinds.


PUBLICATION of “The Brownstone Revival Committee’s Guide to New York City’s Fine Old Neighborhoods”. This booklet has been extraordinarily influential in helping people find homes in our older neighborhoods.


An annual MEETING at a location of particular interest.


May 22, 2012
In Memoriam Everett Ortner

Enjoying a Preservation Volunteers Celebration in his home.

Dear Friends of Brownstone Revival Coalition,

We are profoundly saddened by the death on May 22, 2012 of Everett H. Ortner, noted preservationist and founding chairperson of both the Brownstone Revival Coalition and Preservation Volunteers. For almost fifty years, Everett worked tirelessly to preserve and defend New York’s brownstone neighborhoods.

After purchasing and restoring his Park Slope townhouse in 1963, Everett and his wife Evelyn (deceased 2005) personally spearheaded the brownstone revival movement. By organizing grassroots fairs and conferences, fighting banks who habitually “red-lined” mortgages in struggling brownstone neighborhoods, and founding several local and national preservation organizations, including Back to the City, Inc., the BRC, Preservation Volunteers, and Preservation Action, Everett helped save beloved townhouse neighborhoods in NYC and elsewhere.

A native of Lowell, MA, Everett graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1939. He spent 7 months in a POW camp during WWII and was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal for Valor as an infantry lieutenant in France. He was an editor, writer, and photographer at Popular Science magazine for 33 years until his retirement. He also penned numerous articles on urban revival and preservation topics.

Everett passed away after complications from a fall. He was 92 years old.

The estate requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Preservation Volunteers. Click on the link to donate.


Dexter Guerrieri

Click here to visit the Everett Ortner Tribute Page

Everett Ortner's Corner

Everett was a founder of the Brownstone Revival Coalition in 1968, in the days when brownstones in New York City were being razed in favor of "modern housing projects". He spearheaded an effort to convince banks to loan money on brownstones at a time when such a view was not popular. There are few organizations that have survived, let alone thrived over the course of so many years.  The Brownstone Revival Coalition regularly draws enthusiastic crowds to our free seminars. 

Everett is the sort of preservationist who does not rest on his laurels.  In 1998 he set forth the idea of forming a new U.S. organization to coordinate volunteer efforts for historically significant sites.  The result is Preservation Volunteers of America which now has its 501 C-3 status and is about to launch its first pilot projects. This came about as a result of Everett's observations of a similar organization in France during his travels there over a span of twenty years.