December 2,  2016

PLSI Receives the Albert P. Melniker Award from Chamber

Preservation League of Staten Island Board Secretary, Mary L. Bullock, accepts the Melniker Award, flanked by Linda M. Baran, Chamber President and CEO, and AnnaMarie Gulino Gentile, Esq., Chairman of the Board.

December 2,  2016

PLSI Board Member, Anne Fanciullo Wins Two Chamber Awards 

The two-family home she built at 406 Woodstock Ave., Silver Lake won: Excellence in Exterior and the “Hard Hat” Award for building a house that blends into the neighborhood while overcoming major construction dilemmas. 

Taking a cue from City Planning's smart contextual zoning mantra -- the house had to blend with its 1910 A-frame neighbors in the Silver Lake Special Hillsides District -- and not stand out as the new kid on the block. The 35-by-100-foot lot was a tight squeeze thanks to 1980s R3X zoning. With inch-by-inch planning, the result is a two over three bedroom home -- in the neighborly "modern day twist on the Craftsman style," like it's neighbors -- with a full height basement, five tiled baths and a separate one car garage with its own surprise: Instead of a typical peaked roof we were thunderstruck with an idea when a gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline emerged. Out went the hip roof and in came a flat roof encircled by railings. In addition to a 30-foot backyard, the owner gained a private 20-by-20 sun-drenched rooftop deck as well with a direct view to the Freedom Tower and a great spot for stargazing. Monogram sandstone and redwood siding was chosen to define each floor, with white bargeboard bands enhancing the color contrast on all four sides. Instead of a straight 20-foot run of steps to the pair of mission-style front doors, the steps are zigzagged with landings that pass green shrubs in a planter box, contrasting with the cultured stone stair base. Bronze aluminum railings lead to an ample front porch where the owners gather for coffee and conversation in cozy wicker, surrounded by plants and whimsical porch do-dads.

One neighbor made a special trip when she saw me on the porch one day watering the lawn: "I just wanted to say thank you for improving the neighborhood." That says it best.

Longtime residents of the area were at first dismayed when the For Sale sign on the building lot went up in 2012: Three years later, as the house went on the market, passersby wondered if it had always been there, was this a renovation? Why hadn't they noticed it before? That's how carefully it was designed to not only fit in, but to enhance the neighborhood with an attractive and affordable alternative with few amenities spared (OK so there's no in-ground pool). The neighbors actually thanked me for NOT making a "statement" house but rather, have the house make its own statement.

December 4,  2016

PLSI Board Member, John Foxell,  May 25, 1944 - December 4, 2016

John Foxell had a knack for finding where the action was and
putting himself in the middle of it. His colorful stories could seem unbelievable, but he always managed to back them up. 

John was an ardent preservationist, and long-time PLSI board member. John's pride and joy was his home, the Abraham L. Merrill House, an 1848 saltbox, landmarked by the New York City Landmarks Commission in 2011. A modest white when John purchased it, he painted the home flamboyant orange with black trim, so no one could pass by without a double take.

When asked what he did for a living he spoke of "26 jobs over 43 years in 13 states and Canada,"   Returning to Staten Island in 1981, John worked for NYC Child Protective Services, and spent 14 years at Family Court in Manhattan,  Through his work with Judge Judy, John received an award in 2001 from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as one of NYC's top employees.

After he retired in 2005, he wrote scores of poems, short stories, and essays, concurrently taking writing classes, and teaching a poetry class for the Center for Lifetime Learning at Staten Island's Bernikow JCC.  John's writing is published in two anthologies produced by his writing group, the Nobelists.
Also a visual artist, John used found objects to create fantastical collage and sculpture compilations. 

Despite his dislike for TV, John gained notoriety in the past few years as a recurring guest on the Discovery Science Channel show "Oddities," and its spinoff, "Odd Folks' Homes."

John Foxell, oil on canvas by Robert Bunkin.

He is the subject of a 2016 documentary, "Beware of God, "and a featured actor in a student film, "Vera," by Gena Mimozo.  He and his home were recognized with a 2010 feature article in the New York Times.  When he wasn't creating, John was often traveling.  He visited Mexico, Panama, Europe, every state except Hawaii, and virtually every island in the Caribbean.  He hated flying, but loved cruising and car trips. Although he hadn't driven since 1989. John referred to himself as "a package to be delivered," and often mentioned how happy he was to have created a satisfying "third act" for his life.  The Preservation League was privileged to have been part of John's "third act."