New York’s Knickerbocker Greys, Facing Eviction, Will Rally Outside Swank Park Avenue Armory Gala

Venerable youth organization faces the threat of expulsion from its historic Manhattan premises, which have been converted from military use to, in part, a performing arts venue.

Chae Kihn/Hechler Photography courtesy Knickerbocker Greys
Cadets of the Knickerbocker Greys, seen with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (right) and Kwame Anthony Appiah (left). Chae Kihn/Hechler Photography courtesy Knickerbocker Greys

New York’s Knickerbocker Greys are stepping up their efforts to save their home for over a century as they plan to protest outside the Park Avenue Armory Conservancy’s 2022 Gala this evening. 

The 141-year-old youth organization faces the threat of expulsion from its Manhattan premises. The Armory contends it has no room for the Greys in its venue as it renovates the facility so it can serve as a performing arts venue.

“We’re really excited to be gathering and getting the kids out front,” the president of the Greys’ board, Adrienne Rogatnick told the Sun. “It’s nice to be able to gather out front — even if we can’t get in.”

Outside of the gala, the Knickerbocker Greys have two objectives: to collect petition signatures from those who want the Greys to stay at the Armory and hand out fliers urging support for their cause.

“As you enjoy your party tonight at the Armory, remember the Knickerbocker Greys, and speak up for the kids!” the flier says. “Tell the Conservancy that you want the Greys to stay in the Armory. Let this wonderful organization, the Knickerbocker Greys, remain in their headquarters of 120 years.”

The Greys have served nearly 5,500 New York City children over the years and have had their headquarters in the building since 1902, taking up 800 square feet of the roughly 200,000 square foot premises, they say.

“It’s the glue that holds everybody together,” Mrs. Rogatnick said. “That we’re able to offer a place for kids to go and gather and experience things you can do without a computer, we think the Greys play a vital role in providing meaningful activities for kids.”

Mrs. Rogatnick said the Greys invited more than 600 people to tonight’s protest, including Representative Carolyn Maloney, Governor Hochul, and Representative Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor.

Thus far, the Greys have fought against the Park Avenue Armory Conservancy’s eviction plan. The Greys were asked to leave by June 1 and were served a 10-day notice to leave in mid-August, but have not left.

The Park Avenue Armory gala’s cocktail hour begins at 6:30 p.m. and its dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets to the event start at $2,500 per person, according to the event’s website.

The Park Avenue Armory could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon has not addressed the protest on its social media pages.

Alumni of the Greys include figures like Mayor Lindsay, Vice President Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr., Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and novelist Louis Auchincloss. 

A more recent graduate of the program is a veteran of the U.S. Army, Colonel Thomas Pike, who served in Afghanistan. He has hailed the Greys as an organization open to children from “all walks of life,” including public school students, as well as families with diverse backgrounds and financial situations.

Colonel Pike has told the Sun that losing the Greys’ long-time base at the Armory building would be a “big problem” and laments the failure on the part of the Armory team to come up with a reasonable accommodation for the group.  

The New York Sun

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