U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced today that the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service placed Cherry Grove Community House and Theater on the National Register of Historic Places. Last month, Senator Gillibrand urged the Chief of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program to designate the Fire Island site on the official list of the country's historic places worthy of preservation. Located on Fire Island, this historic site provided one of the first settings for collective gay identity to openly appear in our nation's history.
"This is great news. The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater represents the first civic entity to integrate gay and lesbian interests into governance and social life," said Senator Gillibrand. "I am thrilled that this historic site, the first civil rights organization for the LGBT community, is finally acknowledged for their contributions."
"We are overjoyed that the nation is recognizing this powerful symbol of civil liberties for the LGBT community," said Diane Romano, President of the Cherry Grove Community Association. "This is great honor and a thrill and we are so grateful to everyone who played a role in achieving this historic milestone."
At the time of the Community House and Theater's establishment in 1948, it was headquartered as the Cherry Grove Property Owners Association, and there weren't civil rights organization specifically dedicated to the advocacy of LGBT Rights. In 1948, the Cherry Grove Community House played a major role in the development of gay performing arts and initiated the first American venue to feature productions by gay people for gay and straight audiences.
The Cherry Grove site contributes to a greater understanding of civil rights movements as an evolutionary process towards change and represents a rare and exceptionally significant chapter in the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the United States today.