|Everett H. Ortner
Everett Ortner is an editor, writer, and photographer by profession. His
retirement from Popular Science magazine ended a 33-year career with that
publication, starting as an Assistant Editor and ending as Editor. Prior
to joining Popular Science he worked for several other publishing houses.
He has written hundreds of articles on building technology, photography,
preservation, and urban revival.
Since 1963, when he and his wife, Evelyn, bought a brownstone in Park Slope,
Brooklyn, he has been a missionary for the brownstone-revival movement in
New York City, and for urban revival nationally. He was a leader in the
early days of the revival movement in Park Slope, a photographer and public-relations
man for the Park Slope Civic Council, and a founder, with Joe Ferris, of
the Park Slope Betterment Committee, which organized many series of particularized
house tours (hard-selling houses that needed work). With Ken Patton as chairman,
he was a co-founder and first president (1968) of the Brownstone Revival
Committee of New York, now the Brownstone Revival Coalition--a citywide
organization devoted to the promotion and preservation of New York City's
older communities. He is currently its Chairman Emeritus. The BRC
publishes a newsletter, "The Brownstoner," sponsors lectures and workshops
on architectural history and preservation topics, and acts frequently as
the voice of New York's brownstone communities. He continues to write for
and edit "The Brownstoner."
In 1966, with his wife, Evelyn Ortner, the two persuaded the Brooklyn Union
Company to restore an abandoned brownstone in Park Slope. It was so successful
in attracting attention that the company made a movie of the restoration,
which received considerable publicity. Following on the success of that
endeavor, again at Everett Ortner's sug-gestion, in 1968 the Brooklyn Union
Gas Company, embarked, over a period of 7 years, under the direction of
Everett Ortner and Nat Hendricks, a fellow brownstoner, on a series of Brooklyn
Brownstone Fairs at the company's downtown headquarters to publicize Brooklyn's
great 19th century housing stock. As many as 25,000 people, mostly non-Brooklynites,
attended each of these weekend fairs, and many continued on to busses that
were provided for tours of any of six brownstone communities. Many, as a
result, came to live in Brooklyn brownstones. Also with Brooklyn Union,
Ortner assisted in the creation of a series of films about Brooklyn brownstones
that were widely circulated, both throughout New York City and elsewhere,
and were enormously influential in bringing new residents to Brooklyn’s
older communities. To celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle of Brooklyn,
he wrote the script for a movie, “The Battle of Brooklyn,” produced by Brooklyn
Based on the success of his New York program for urban revival, in 1972
Everett Ortner conceived and directed the first Back to the City Conference
in New York--a conference that brought together 250 representatives of 82
cities across the nation. Out of the conference and the strongly felt need
for a national organization to focus on urban residential revival through
the preservation of old communities, came Back to the City, Inc. This organization,
of which Everett Ortner was president until 1983, sponsored a series of
annual conferences in a dozen major cities: Washington, Milwaukee, Cleveland,
San Antonio, Saint Paul, Hartford, Miami Beach, etc.
Over the years, Everett Ortner has also served as a Board member of Preservation
Action (Washington, D.C.), trustee and Vice President of the Brooklyn Historical
Society, Vice President of the Park Slope Civic Council, Board member and
President of Brooklyn's historic Montauk Club, and other organizations.
Now, in his eighties and retired since 1985, he continues, as Chairman
Emeritus, his preservation activities with the Brownstone Revival Coalition,
writing and editing its newsletter, contributing photographs to its annual
Calendar, and offering occasional lectures sponsored by that organization.
He is also, with his wife, Evelyn, founder (1998) and Chairman of Preservation
Volunteers, a new organization linked to REMPART, a French association that
enlists volunteers of all ages to work on preservation projects, primarily
in France, but also in England, Italy, and, now, in the United States. Every
year, since 2002, Preservation Volunteers has brought French volunteers
to the United States to work on American preservation projects, and has
sent American volunteers to France.
He is the recipient of many awards for leadership in urban revitalization:
Among them: "Distinguished Citizen Award" from the City of Louisville, "Keys
to the City" from Miami Beach, Brooklyn Borough President's "Leadership
Citation," "1972 Cinderella Award" from Brooklyn Union Gas Company, "Community
Service Award" from the Brooklyn Independent Democrats, "George Lovgren
Memorial Award" from the Park Slope Civic Council, "Spirit of Life" award
from the New York Congregational Home, “Lifetime Achievement in Excellence
in Historic Achievement” from the Preservation League of New York State,
“Exemplary Service in Community Preservation” from the Historic Districts
Council of New York City, "Lifetime Achievement Award" (2005) from the New
York chapter of the Victorian Society of the United States, one of six recipients
of the 2005 Fulbright College, University of Arkansas, "Distinguished Alumni
Award," and most recently (March, 2006), jointly with his wife, Evelyn,
the New York Landmarks Conservancy's prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation
Leadership Award for 2005.
He has served as a volunteer photographer for Prospect Park and the Brooklyn
Botanic Garden. The Garden has used many of his photographs for postcards.
As a history buff, he has taught a course on "The Brownstone Age" at the
New School, and he lectures frequently on the Brownstone Age and Brooklyn
and New York history.
Also: he is a native of Lowell, Mass., a graduate of the University of Arkansas
(1939), and a decorated veteran of World War II. (As an infantry lieutenant
in France com-manding a machine-gun platoon, he was awarded the Bronze Star
Medal with a V for Valor and a citation for "meritorious achievement in
ground operations against the enemy.") He is an ardent traveler and a skilled
photographer. He maintains a huge archive of photographs of New York and
Brooklyn. He is listed in "Who's Who in America."
And also: he was married to Evelyn Ortner, (recently deceased), an interior
designer and preservationist, a founding member of the Victorian Society
in America, former Chairman of the St. Ann Center for Restoration and the
Arts, a Board member of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a docent at the Brooklyn
Museum of Art, and a leader in cultural causes in New York City.