Since 1869, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has made its name helping New Yorkers understand their roots. But the more the society pondered its future, the more the people at its helm became convinced that it needed to break with its past.The new owners: a synagogue. In a comment, the new NYGBS president insists:
Making what they called a “forward-looking decision,” the trustees hung a for-sale sign on the society’s longtime home at 122 East 58th Street several years ago. Then — to the shock of the society’s own members, who were still reeling from the sale — the trustees gave the society’s vast collection of scholarly books and historic papers to the New York Public Library.
The radical downsizing may have been as pragmatic as it was bold, but the timing could have been better.
The building was sold in 2007, and one-fourth of the $24 million that the society raised from the sale washed away as the stock market eroded. That, together with high administrative costs, led the society to make large staff reductions in early 2009, just as the new owners of its old headquarters sold them again — this time for $28.5 million.
there is no doubt whatever that the choices were carefully, thoroughly, and thoughtfully considered by dedicated trustees and by the consultants who advised them over an extended period of time.I don't doubt most of the trustees were doing what they thought was best. But I'd be curious to know the names of the consultants involved.