Harlem Hell Fighters Modernization Wins Preservation Award

SOURCE: Press Release originally published on www.army.mil
DATE: March 14, 2016
BY: Eric Durr, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs

Boston Valley Terra Cotta has been in the news lately, our project, the 369th Regiment State Armory, is being recognized with a New York Landmark Conservancy Lucy G. Moses Award for outstanding preservation in 2015. We have been documenting our role in the progress of this restoration for the New York Army National Guard.

Below is an excerpt from the United States Army press release from March 14, 2016. You can read more about the restoration project here.


Harlem Hell Fighters, 369th Infantry Regiment, Terra Cotta Restoration, Boston Valley Terra Cotta

Photo Credit ©Christopher Payne/Esto

NEW YORK — One piece of the $46 million modernization of the home of the New York Army National Guard’s historic Harlem Hell Fighters is being honored with New York City’s premier award for historic preservation in construction projects. The Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, presented annually by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, “is not quite the Emmys or the Oscars, but in that community it is a very big deal,” said Leonard Sherman, an associate with the architectural and engineering design firm of STVSherman was the architect for the $2.2 million project to restore the main entrance façade along the Fifth Avenue side of the 83-year-old Art Deco-style Fifth Avenue Armory, also known as the Harlem Armory.

The project involved replacing 300 pieces of terra cotta, which decorated the face of the building, as well as reinforcing the underpinnings of the parapet wall. The most noticeable work involved replacing two five foot high Art Deco eagles decorating the corners of the entrance tower. The Moses award, named after a New York philanthropist who died in 1990 at age 103, recognizes projects that demonstrate excellence in the restoration, preservation, or adaptive use of historic buildings.

5th Avenue Armory, Harlem Hell Fighters, 369th Infantry Regiment, Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Restoration, Lucy G. Moses Award

Photo Credit ©Christopher Payne/Esto

Constructed in two parts — a medieval-style drill hall finished in 1924, and the Art Deco administrative and office complex completed in 1933- the armory was built for the 369th Infantry Regiment.  The 369th was an African-American New York National Guard regiment that became famous during World War I for fighting with the French — not the American — Army.

The building was made a New York City landmark in 1985 and placed on the New York State and National Registers of historic places in 1994.  The most impressive terra cotta details on the 5th Avenue side of the armory are the massive Art Deco federal eagles. Each consists of 13 large pieces of terra cotta.

 Crafting replacement eagles and all other terra cotta fell to a western New York company called Boston Valley Terra Cotta in Orchard Park, which has manufactured ceramic products for over a century.