In Memory of Margaret Riggs Buckwalter, 1920 - 2014

Helped Save the Alice Austen House

Margaret (Peggy) Riggs Buckwalter, President, Friends of Alice Austen House, 1981­–1986, and National President, American Society of Picture Professionals, 1976–1977, died on Jan. 5 in Northampton, MA. She was 93. She died of a long term heart condition.

Through the late 1970s and 80s, Ms. Buckwalter worked tirelessly with Oliver Jensen, Ann Novotny, and others to save the Staten Island home of Alice Austen, a pioneering woman photographer who compassionately recorded the polarities of society and working class life in turn-of-the-century New York City. Ms. Buckwalter, herself an amateur photographer of 1930s Americana, held positions from secretary-treasurer to newsletter editor, ultimately serving as the Friends of Alice Austen House, Inc.’s executive director from 1981 to 1986. During her tenure, she oversaw the restoration of the property through the acquisition of a million dollar grant from the New York City capital budget, and began the operation of Austen’s home as a museum through an agreement with the New York City Parks department. She also led a successful campaign to name a Staten Island ferry in honor of Alice Austen. To celebrate the restoration, Ms. Buckwalter published an Alice Austen Commemorative Journal (1986). The Alice Austen House is a National Historic Landmark and Historic Artist Home and Studio, hosting school programs, photography summer camps, and day trips year round.

Ms. Buckwalter was born in East Orange, NJ on November 7, 1920. She was the only daughter in a family of three and grew up on a homesteading farm in Flemington, NJ during the Great Depression. She attended Dennison College and Cornell University. In the 1970s, she briefly resided in Flemington at 190 Main Street. The town remained dear to her heart.

In 1945 at 25, Ms. Buckwalter began her professional career at Time, Inc., in New York City, in central printing. In 1953, she moved to a job in the art department at the new American Heritage publishing company, where she quickly became responsible for tracking artists and their artwork. In 1968, the company’s library created its first picture collection and, shortly thereafter, Ms. Buckwalter became general manager of the picture library, which used an innovative, research-friendly file system. Besides involvement in large projects like the American Heritage Dictionary, she was also the principal picture editor of books such as The Artist’s America and Makers of Modern Thought. After retiring from American Heritage in 1978, she continued freelance projects, for example, The Art of Food and 200 Years of Looking Ahead.

Ms. Buckwalter was the first two-year national president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) in 1976 and 1977. During her tenure she doubled the membership and created the first chapters outside of New York City—in Washington, D.C. and New England. Through seminars, tours of special collections and research sites, and a photo fair, Ms. Buckwalter created gatherings for professional development and industry networking that helped create an identity for the developing profession. Today ASPP is a thriving national organization with multiple chapters.

In retirement, Ms. Buckwalter pursued favorite projects, including the performance of her opera libretto about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom on the Road to Rights with music composed by David Braynard and performed by mezzo-soprano Cornelia Jones-Post and others at the Nuyorican Poets Café, New York City; authoring The American Bill of Rights and the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States with Selected Historic Illustrations and Notes, Riggs Press; and writing a chronicle of her school girl’s life in rural 1920s New Jersey, unpublished. Ms. Buckwalter was long time resident of Waterside Plaza in New York City, later moving to Laguna Woods, California, where she appeared on the Today Show as a member of the senior synchronized swim team of national repute, the Aquadettes.

Ms. Buckwalter is survived by her son Ken Buckwalter MacDonald of Ibiza, Spain; her niece, Melinda R. Buckwalter, Northampton, MA; and nephews John R. Buckwalter, Ringoes, NJ, and Alan R. Buckwalter III, Houston, TX. Donations can be sent in memory of Peggy Buckwalter to the Lathrop Home, 215 South Street, Northampton, MA 01060.

Photo Caption: Margaret Riggs Buckwalter at Alice Austen’s home Clear Comfort, Gala Celebration, Staten Island, NY, May 1984. Photo © Steven Borns

Renovation is underway!

Alice Austen House was awarded a major grant from the American Express Partners in Preservation program, a partnership of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express Foundation, to restore and preserve this historic house.  Work has begun due to the many Austen fans who voted every day during the month of May 2012.  The house will be under construction for the next several months and we will update you on the progress.  Thank you to all those who helped make this possible!


Hurricane Sandy

One year later, we are thankful for community support and mindful that recovery continues. Alice Austen House is grateful to the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the New York Council for the Humanities, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Staten Island Foundation, and all of our supporters and volunteers for assistance in our cleanup, response and planning efforts. Our thoughts go out to our community still rebuilding their lives, businesses and homes after Superstorm Sandy, especially those who lost loved ones.

Lori Belilove & Isadora Duncan Dance Company

The Isadora Duncan Dance Company, directed by Lori Belilove, the pre-eminent Isadora Duncan Dance company performing today, will honor their namesake, revolutionary dancer Isadora Duncan and Victorian rebel photographer Alice Austen, both 20th century Icons of freedom, in a program of dances choreographed by Isadora Duncan. The outdoor performance will be on the grounds of the Alice Austen House; a location featuring a view that stretches from the Statue of Liberty to lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Verrazano Bridge on September 14th.

The Company and guest dancers will perform solos and group works from the Duncan repertory centered on themes of nature, a focus that Duncan shared with Alice Austen. The program will unfold the life and art of the extraordinary dancer with sensational dancing, delighting audiences of all ages. Bring your friends and a picnic, blanket and/or chairs and enjoy an early evening of nature and dance overlooking the New York harbor. $10 donation at the gate.
 

Bring your own blanket or chair, even a picnic! The performance will be canceled in the event of rain.  The event will start at 6 pm. 

The Alice Austen House is handicap accessible with a wheelchair ramp in the rear of the house. 

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

In Memoriam Paul Eklof board member and dear friend

The Alice Austen House dedicates this year's gala on June 15 to Paul, who gave so much of himself and will be greatly missed.

Donations accepted to the Paul Eklof Memorial Fund at the request of his family.  Donate here

To learn about Paul

New Executive Director

The Alice Austen House Museum welcomes our new Executive Director, Janice Monger.  http://www.nynp.biz/index.php/people/14435-monger-new-ed-at-alice-austen-house-museum-

Dr. Carl Rutberg and Ann Marie McDonnell on City Talk

Click on the image below, and you will be able to see the show.

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