THE KOSCIUSZKO FOUNDATION
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The following information provided by The Kosciuszko Foundation.
Founded in 1925, the Kosciuszko Foundation is dedicated to promoting and strengthening understanding and friendship between the peoples of Poland and the United States through educational, scientific, and cultural exchanges and other related programs and activities. It awards fellowships and grants to graduate students, scholars, scientists, professionals, and artists and helps to increase the visibility and prestige of Polish culture in America's pluralistic society by sponsoring exhibits, publications, film festivals, performing arts such as concerts and recitals, and assists other institutions with similar goals.
The Kosciuszko Foundation
15 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10021-6595
telephone: (212) 734-2130 fax: (212) 628-4552
president: Joseph E. Gore, Esq.
The Kosciuszko Foundation had its beginnings in the Polish American Scholarship Committee, launched in 1923 by Dr. Stephen Mizwa at the request of the Polish Government to bring students to American universities. Dr. Mizwa was put in touch with Dr. Henry Noble McCracken, President of Vassar College, who had recently returned from an investigative visit to Poland and Eastern Europe. Eventually, the two men enlarged the Committee's mission to the promotion of cultural and educational exchange between the United States and Poland. In December 1925, the Committee was changed into the newly-incorporated Kosciuszko Foundation, named as a living memorial to the Polish military hero who had come to fight in the American War of Independence in 1776.
In 2000, the Kosciuszko Foundation marked its Diamond Jubilee and celebrated 75 years of carrying out this mission. Its activities have grown to include scholarship and exchange programs; teaching English in Poland; and cultural programs at its New York townhouse headquarters and throughout the country. It has Chapters in seven other cities and members across the nation and around the world. Many of its grantees occupy important positions in Polish academic life, Thanks to its members and benefactors, the Foundation is able to disburse more than $1 million annually to hundreds of Polish Americans and others involved in Polish studies. It has continued through the difficulties of the Depression, World War Two, and decades of Communist rule. With the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations, it shall continue in the tradition of its namesake, General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, to enrich the educational and cultural lives of both America and Poland.
The Kosciuszko Foundation House, cited in the American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City, offers an elegant home for the Foundation’s numerous activities. It was originally built in 1917 as a private residence for James J. Van Allen, a prominent socialite and son-in-law of Mrs. Astor. (Mrs. Astor’s own double mansion was next door, occupying an entire block of Fifth Avenue, on the site of the present Temple Emanu-el.) A four-story structure combining Renaissance style and Classical architecture, it was designed by Harry Allen Jacobs, who also supervised the renovation and joining of the buildings facing it on 65th Street. It is remarkable in its appropriateness both as a headquarters of a prestigious national institution and a repository of fine art. It was based on a London townhouse, built in 1772 in St. James Square for Sir Watkins Williams Wynn; until 1920, this London house belonged to the Earl of Strathmore, the father of the present Queen Mother of England.
Building on the Classical Revivalist style, Jacobs most successfully introduced new and original components. He created an interior with an entrance lobby graced by a light and elegant yet functional stairway which unifies the two public floors of the house in a unique manner. The building’s scale, plaster-work decoration, oak paneling, delicate marble fireplaces, and finely proportionate windows, make for a monumental impression within a residence of modest proportions.
In 1919, Van Allen, displeased by Prohibition, moved to Europe. The house was sold to Rufus K. Paterson, president of the American Machine and Foundry Company. The family, in turn, sold the house to the Foundation in 1945. For twenty years, the Foundation had been housed in the Polish Consulate, but was forced to seek a new home in the changed political climate after the end of the Second World War. The House was formally opened on October 17, 1946, to mark the bicentennial of Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s birth.
Over the years the Foundation House has become a national symbol of Polish culture and scholarship in the United States, worth a visit by anyone interested in Polish culture. It houses one of the finest collections of painting, watercolors, graphics, drawings, and sculpture by Polish masters on public view in America - all of which came to the Foundation through the generosity of the artists themselves or of friends of Polish culture.
The building’s public rooms - the oak-paneled Gallery, impressive Rotunda, and conference room are venues for the Foundation’s many cultural programs, including the popular monthly Chamber Music Series Concerts, as well as other concerts and recitals, lectures, author’s evenings, and exhibits. Since 1949, the Foundation House has been the home of the Chopin Piano Competition, whose winners have included Van Cliburn and Murray Perahia, and each month more than a thousand people visit the House to take part in its activities.
Upper floors of the building house the Foundation’s administrative offices, including those of the President, Scholarships & Grants for Americans, Exchange Grants, Development & Membership, Cultural Affairs, Finances, Educational Programs, and Library. The Book Service is located on the lower level.