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Herb Kaufman, Heights preservationist, dies

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Herbert Kaufman, a prominent architect who was integral in preserving historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights in the 1960s, died on Jan. 13 from an infection to his lungs. He was 92.

Kaufman, who moved to the Heights in 1951, worked closely with other notable preservationists at the Brooklyn Heights Association, including Otis Pratt Pearsall and Edwards Rullman and the late Malcolm Chesney. The three helped educate homeowners about history and renovation, years before brownstone restoration became popular.

Kaufman helped renovate the YMCA on Joralemon Street, and worked to make the neighborhood a historic district in 1965.

“Herbert was quite an impressive man, and a lovely person,” said his longtime Hicks Street neighbor, Marianna Koval, who is the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “He was like an adopted grandfather for my daughter.”

Beyond Brooklyn, Kaufman was part of the successful fight to save Grand Central Terminal in 1967, and worked to save Pennsylvania Station in the early 1960s, work that combined his two loves: preservation and trains.

His wife, Enid Neidle, said they were best friends who traveled the world by train.

“He was an intelligent, well-educated man, with a lot of interests in common with me,” Neidle said. “He was very knowledgeable about history, and he was passionate about trains.”

Kaufman served on the Brooklyn Heights Association board for many years, and until recently, was still active in a senior advisory role.

Kaufman is survived by his wife; and two children, Ned and Meg Kaufman, and a granddaughter. In lieu of a funeral, Koval will host a private memorial service on Feb. 17.

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