Saratoga Associates, a leading design and planning firm renowned for its expertise in historic preservation and site enhancement, has undertaken a transformative project at Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site. This initiative was commissioned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) as part of a broader effort to address accessibility concerns across state parks. The endeavor aimed to not only comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements but also to create an inclusive environment that welcomes and accommodates all visitors. The audit conducted by OPRHP highlighted the need for such improvements, as it revealed the challenges and needed upgrades in accessibility features at many state parks. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the impactful work undertaken at Philipse Manor Hall and its significance in the broader context of promoting equal access to public spaces.
The Challenge of Accessibility
The audit report released by the New York State Office of the Comptroller exposed the pressing issue of creating and improving accessibility amenities in state parks. The findings emphasized that many parks required additional funding to provide the necessary infrastructure to accommodate visitors with disabilities. The audit underscored not only the physical barriers but also the misinformation present online and the inaccuracies in accessibility signage. These discrepancies created a substantial hindrance for disabled individuals to fully enjoy and explore these natural and historic sites.
Saratoga Associates Steps In
Recognizing the urgent need for action, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation collaborated Saratoga Associates to address these accessibility shortcomings. The Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site, a gem of history nestled in Yonkers, New York, was selected as a flagship project. Saratoga Associates embraced the challenge with dedication, aiming to not only rectify the issues but also to set an example of how heritage sites can be made truly inclusive.
The Transformation of Philipse Manor Hall
Saratoga Associates’ work at Philipse Manor Hall was comprehensive and visionary. The State Historic Preservation Office, in coordination with OPRHP, embarked on a multi-faceted endeavor to enhance accessibility throughout the historic site:
- Accessible Routes: The mansion was equipped with accessible routes, ensuring that visitors with mobility challenges can navigate through the site with ease. These routes were strategically designed to preserve the historical integrity of the mansion while seamlessly incorporating modern accessibility features.
- New Wing and Elevator Service: A new wing was added to the site, featuring accessible restrooms and an elevator. This addition not only expanded the amenities available but also ensured that all floors of the mansion were accessible to individuals with varying mobility needs.
- Perimeter Accessibility: Beyond the mansion, accessible routes were extended to the site’s perimeter. This thoughtful approach ensures that visitors can fully explore the grounds, enhancing their overall experience.
Inclusivity as a Pillar of Preservation
The transformation of Philipse Manor Hall serves as a testament to the importance of inclusivity in historic preservation. By integrating accessible features into a historic site, Saratoga Associates and OPRHP demonstrate that accessibility and preservation need not be mutually exclusive. Instead, they can complement each other, breathing new life into historic spaces and enabling a diverse range of visitors to engage with history firsthand.
Continuing the Journey
The audit’s revelations regarding accessibility challenges at state parks underscore the ongoing need for comprehensive efforts to ensure equal access for all. The completed Philipse Manor Hall sets an inspiring example for other historic sites and public spaces. By focusing on accessibility, updating informational signage, and accurate signage, the initiative serves as a catalyst for broader change.
Saratoga Associates’ remarkable work at Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site is a shining example of how historic preservation can be enhanced by embracing accessibility and inclusivity. The collaboration with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation serves as a beacon of hope for the future, reminding us that all visitors, regardless of their physical abilities, should be able to explore, learn, and appreciate our shared heritage. As we work towards making our parks accessible to all, it is vital to remember that every step taken in this direction is a stride towards a more inclusive and equitable society.