Preserving Park Slope: A Visual History of Urban Revival

Material Description

The Everett and Evelyn Ortner papers and photographs (ca. 1880 - 2010, bulk 1940 - 2008) include photographs, audio recordings, moving images, and paper records that document the work, research, and activities of two key players of Brooklyn's historic preservation and Brownstone Revival movements. In 1968, they helped found the Brownstone Revival Committee, with Everett serving as the group's first president. The organization soon became a leading force in the effort to preserve historic homes in NYC. The Ortner papers are comprised of administrative records of the Brownstone Revival Committee, including correspondence with local residents, housing tour files, brownstone renovation workshop files, and communications with related community organizations, such as the Park Slope Civic Council and the Park Slope Betterment Committee. The files highlight the Ortners' work with local businesses, including the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, which were convinced to purchase and renovate homes in Park Slope for use as models to entice new residents to invest in the neighborhood. Everett was also the lead organizer of the Back to the City Conference series, which ran from the 1970s to the 1980s. This conference brought together historic preservationists and community activists to meet and discuss strategies for revitalizing urban neighborhoods across the country. The Ortner papers include many records related to the conference, including the minutes of its Board of Directors. The Ortner papers also contain a wealth of visual materials. Everett was an avid photographer, and the collection includes extensive documentation of the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, including panoramic shots of entire blocks of historic homes. These images were used to publicize the Brownstone Revival movement and secure the establishment of the Park Slope Historic District. Additionally, the collection includes audiovisual recordings of interviews with the Ortners, focusing on their roles as leaders in the Brownstone Revival movement.


Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) proposes a 19-month project to digitize, create item-level descriptive metadata for, and make accessible 40,000+ paper records, photographs, moving images, and audio recordings that document the grassroots efforts of Everett and Evelyn Ortner as leaders in NYC's historic preservation movement and urban revival movements across the country. BHS will make digital assets and corresponding metadata as accessible as possible to both local and remote researchers via a number of web-based access tools. Through high volume digitization and metadata creation, BHS will also develop efficient workflows in preparation for future large-scale digitization projects, enhancing the institution's digitization and descriptive manuals for moving images, audio, text and photographs into a general operating procedure for processing, description, and access. The strategies employed to broadly deploy our metadata will align with BHS's goal to keep systems modular and metadata interoperable.


Digitizing Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded


Year Added



Brooklyn Historical Society


  • Ms. Julie May (Brooklyn Historical Society)

Date Range

1880 - 2010

Geographic Scope

The photographs, papers, moving images, and audio extensively document New York City, especially the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Other cities represented include St. Paul (MN), Hartford (CT), San Antonio (TX), Louisville (KY), Miami (FL), Cleveland (OH), Milwaukee (WI), Wilmington (DE), and Washington DC.


  • 11558 Photographs