Historic designation proposed for Opus 40 studio, museum

Veranda view of Opus 40 in 1948, after approximately 10 years of construction

In an effort to improve the property’s chances of receiving grants and in recognition of its historic significance, the entire property belonging to Opus 40 Inc. has been proposed for designation by the Saugerties Town Historic Preservation Commission.  The parcel containing the sculpture had previously been designated as historic by the commission, but now the commission believes creator Harvey Fite’s studio and the Quarryman’s Museum, also on the property, should also be designated to “protect the integrity and character of the sculpture itself and recognize the artist’s unique contribution to Saugerties and the bluestone industry. The additional lots proposed for inclusion in the designated site are: Tax Parcels 2, 3, 10 and 24.2. Such designation will strengthen and supplement ongoing negotiations between the current owners and the Town of Saugerties to create a cultural institution on the site, to be owned by the town and operated by a non-profit group.

In order to allow public input before the official August 15 public hearing the commission will hold an informational “conversation” at its regular meeting on Monday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall’s Building Department Conference Room, when it hopes to hear from artists, sculptors, architects, landscapers and others who have long appreciated the intrinsic strength, color, texture and density characteristic of bluestone which is native to Saugerties. Bluestone has been an integral part of Saugerties history, architecture and heritage for over 200 years and bluestone largely defines our community. What the commission is seeking to preserve, in the words of Michael Sullivan Smith, one of its five members, is “the memory of Harvey Fite as a vanguard force in the history of art whose works continue to be relevant. . . The designation would recognize “Harvey Fite as a person of national and local importance.” The input of those attending the “conversation” on July 18 at the Town Hall Building Department Conference Room will help shape the agenda for the August 15 public hearing scheduled to be held at the Senior Citizen Center at 7:30 p.m.

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Click here to see a document prepared by the committee with more details and photos

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