Officially, the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association (MMPCIA) began in 1981, when Patricia Pates-Eaton, Harold Dolly and others organized a meeting of neighbors to address the improvement of the quality of life in the area in and around the Mount Morris Park Historic District. The organizers firmly believed in the “Squeaky-Wheel-Gets–the-Grease” Theory.
Unofficially, the Mount Morris Park neighborhood has been vigilant and active for decades. Committed residents, like Hilda Stokely, were very instrumental in securing landmark status for the Fire Watch Tower in Marcus Garvey Park in 1967. Harold Dolly, Dr. Thelma Adair and many others picketed, protested and succeeded in foiling (in the late ‘60s and ‘70s and again in the mid-‘80s) the State’s taking of nine brownstones on Mount Morris Park West for a home for wayward boys, a drug rehab facility and finally an extension of the prison on the corner. The result—in 1971 the buildings were landmarked and Mount Morris Park was designated New York City’s 18th Historic District.
In 1974, Olive and Julius Adams rallied their West 121st Street neighbors, the newspapers and Councilman Fred Samuels—over a weekend—to block the demolition of two neighboring brownstones. The result—people realized that they can and do have an impact on what happens in their neighborhood.
Over the years, MMPCIA has continued to be that irrepressible squeaky wheel. As our place in the neighborhood, Harlem and the New York City community has solidified, we have turned a corner and are increasing our capacity to have an even greater impact on the revitalization and preservation issues of our community.