Cherry Grove Community House Added to Natl. Register of Historic Places
At the urging of US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY), the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater have been added to the National of Historic Places. The structure built in 1948, was singled out by Gillibrand for its critical role in the history of the gay liberation movement in America.
According to the National Park Service website, the 65 year old building was eligible under Criterion A in the areas of Social History, Performing Arts, and Community Planning and Development. The Community House and Theatre is exceptionally significant in social history for the enormous role it played in shaping what gradually evolved into "America’s First Gay and Lesbian Town."
A press release from the Senator’s office reads.
"Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced today that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service placed Cherry Grove Community House and Theater on the National Register of Historic Places. Last month, Senator Gillibrand urged the Chief of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program to designate the Fire Island site on the official list of the country’s historic places worthy of preservation. Located on Fire Island, this historic site provided one of the first settings for collective gay identity to openly appear in our nation’s history.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
"This is great news. The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater represents the first civic entity to integrate gay and lesbian interests into governance and social life," said Senator Gillibrand. "I am thrilled that this historic site, the first civil rights organization for the LGBT community, is finally acknowledged for their contributions."
"We are overjoyed that the nation is recognizing this powerful symbol of civil liberties for the LGBT community," said Diane Romano, President of the Cherry Grove Community Association. "This is great honor and a thrill and we are so grateful to everyone who played a role in achieving this historic milestone."
At the time of the Community House and Theater’s establishment in 1948, it was headquartered as the Cherry Grove Property Owners Association, and there weren’t civil rights organization specifically dedicated to the advocacy of LGBT Rights. In 1948, the Cherry Grove Community House played a major role in the development of gay performing arts and initiated the first American venue to feature productions by gay people for gay and straight audiences.
The Cherry Grove site contributes to a greater understanding of civil rights movements as an evolutionary process towards change and represents a rare and exceptionally significant chapter in the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the United States today."
The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.