To honor Everett Ortner, original brownstone promoter, don't just preserve them, build more

From NYTimes writer Dennis Hevesi: "Everett Ortner who, with his wife, Evelyn, was an early leader in the movement to restore the splendor of 19th-century Brooklyn brownstones after so many had been carved into rooming houses, died on May 22, at a hospital in Brooklyn.  He was 92 and lived in the four-story 1886 brownstone that he and his wife bought in 1963. "In 1968, five years after they had moved into their brownstone, on Berkeley Place in Park Slope, the Ortners helped found the Brownstone Revival Committee.  It has since become a citywide organization known as the Brownstone Revival Coalition.

"Back then, many middle-class residents in neighborhoods including Park Slope were moving to the suburbs.  The Ortners, who had paid $32,500 for their house, joined with several neighbors to change what was happening to the buildings.  What started as a wine-and-cheese party grew into a series of events where young couples, many from outside the borough, could experience the interior grandeur of the old homes.

"In 1974, Mr. Ortner organized the first 'Back to the City' conference at the Waldorf-Astoria, bringing together more than 250 representatives from 82 cities to promote the revitalization of brownstone neighborhoods.  The organization, which he led until 1983, sponsored 12 other annual conferences in cities across the country.

"'Never again, never again, never again will houses of this quality be built for the middle class of the city,' Mr. Ortner once said."  Full article here.

From NYTimes writer Elizabeth Harris a few days after Mr. Hevesi's article: "Their success was tremendous — perhaps, in some ways, more extravagantly so than they might have wanted. 'Everybody here seems to have so much money,' said Dr. Susan Stewart, a friend of the Ortners who has lived on their block since 1973. Of Mr. Ortner, she said, 'He preferred it when it was more of a mixture of people.'  Full article here.  (Photo credit: John Sotomayor.)