“The Place Where People Meet to Seek the Highest is Holy Ground.”
Our building holds a distinct place in the city’s architectural history. Built in 1910 on Central Park West, it has been landmarked by the City of New York and is on the State and National Registers of Historic Places as part of the Central Park West Historic District.
The building was designed by architect Robert D. Kohn, who was considered a pioneer in his use of Vienna Recessionist/Art Nouveau style for the building. Kohn also had a personal stake in the design of the building, as he was a lifelong member and served on the Board of the Society.
In its recommendation for Landmark status, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission stated that,
“…the New York Society for Ethical Culture has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City…and that it is both a tangible symbol of the Society’s permanent social contribution and a rich architectural element of the fabric of our City.”
2010 marked the 100th anniversary of our beautiful landmark building, a permanent home for the New York Society for Ethical Culture. We celebrated with a Rededication Ceremony and reception, one hundred years to the day – October 23, 2010, with a keynote address by David Brancaccio, a Proclamation from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and remarks from other distinguished guests. In addition we had a series of events throughout the year to highlight contemporary ethical concerns and introduce new people to our historic building and to the Society.
Whereas: Since Felix Adler established the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 1876, the organization has done tremendous work to promote social justice and improve the lives of underserved New Yorkers. From setting up the District Nursing Service and calling for the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to founding the nation’s first free kindergarten and, later, a school for children of the working poor, NYSEC has a long history of advancing human rights and advocating for those most in need.
Whereas: But the Society for Ethical Culture is known for more than just its outstanding initiatives, it’s also celebrated for its beautiful and historic Meeting House, which is an architectural Landmark. Designed by Robert D. Kohn, the building is known as a rare example of the Austrian form of Art Nouveau architecture. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Ethical Culture Meeting House, and our city is proud to celebrate this remarkable building and the important organization it houses.
Whereas: In commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Society, Albert Einstein said: “Without ‘Ethical Culture’ there is no salvation for humanity.” Today, the Society is as vital as ever, as it continues to serve the community through an array of programs. Whether it is offering homeless women a place to sleep, organizing scholarships and recreational programs for young people in need, or providing the community with a hub for concerts, film screenings, book discussions, art workshops and more, NYSEC remains an integral part of New York’s social and cultural fabric. I’m delighted to congratulate everyone involved with the Society on their tremendous accomplishments and to join them in commemorating this milestone occasion!
Now therefore, I, Michael R. Bloomberg, in honor of the New York Society for Ethical Culture’s tremendous accomplishments and in recognition of the Centennial Anniversary of the Ethical Culture Meeting House, do hereby proclaim Saturday, October 23, 2010 in the City of New York as: “New York Society for Ethical Culture Day”