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Historic Scotland Stonemasons to train young people in Harlem

30 April 2010

Historic Scotland stonemasons are travelling to the United States this weekend to help train young people in Harlem, New York.

Kenny McCaffrey from Cupar and Malcolm Hutcheon from Inch will work with young people learning masonry and preservation skills through the Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC). One of the key aims of ADC is to achieve revitalisation of the community through focussing on the physical infrastructure.

To help achieve this, ADC has implemented YOUTHBUILD, a nationally recognised workforce development initiative for ‘at risk’ youth.

As part of the trip, which is organized by Historic Scotland, a workshop will be held at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, where the Scottish team will be working with Chris Pellitteri the Cathedral’s stone carver in residence, to help share advice and expertise on stonemasonry with local young people.  

Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs said;

“There are a number of similarities in the architectural style and building materials used through much of the fabric of the traditional buildings in New York and in the tenements and civic buildings that characterise much of the Scottish landscape.

“By visiting the project and helping to train young people we hope to provide them with skills which will help them to not only care for their historic fabric, but also equip them with knowledge to help build sustainable and long term careers.”

Malcolm Hutcheon said;

“I have worked on a number of fantastic buildings in my time, however to have the opportunity to visit and train young people in New York City is a huge honour.

“A lot of the stonework used in the New York area is of a similar consistency to Scottish sandstone and we have a wealth of expertise here, honed over many hundreds of years that can be used to help train others working with similar materials on the other side of the world.”

A key part of the visit will be focussing on skills that can be transferred into caring for other buildings within the area and visiting ongoing projects. A large part of housing stock in Harlem is of “brownstone”, much of which was in the hands of the city when the ADC was launched twenty years ago. Now less than 30% of the housing stock is owned by the City of New York, and the ADC has provided over 1,000 units of affordable housing.  

Tom Russack, for the Abyssinian Development Corporation said;

“We are thrilled to welcome Malcolm and Kenny to New York to meet our young people and share their expertise and experience.

”It is my understanding that this is the first international hands-on workshop ever attempted  in the United States to provide high school age students with training in masonry preservation.”

“We hope that this is the first of many initiatives, and we look forward to working with the Scottish team on their visit to Harlem.”

Notes to Editors:

About Historic Scotland:

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

You can also find out more about Historic Scotland on the following sites: – search for Make Your Own History

About the team:

  • Malcolm Hutcheon - Malcolm works for Historic Scotland and is based at Kildrummie Castle. During his time with the organisation he has worked on a number of high profile buildings in the Aberdeen area including St. Machar’s Cathedral. Malcolm is 39 and lives in Insch.

  • Kenny McCaffrey - Kenny is in the third year of his apprenticeship with Historic Scotland and is based at St. Andrews Cathedral. Kenny was previously employed as a labourer with Historic Scotland for six years, before applying for an adult apprenticeship. As part of his apprenticeship he has worked at sites across Scotland including Stirling Castle and Iona Abbey. Kenny is 39 and lives in Cupar.  

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858