Roslyn preservationist Mary Ann Brandl dies at 88

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Mary Ann Brandl's college graduation photo. (Photo courtesy of Carl Brandl)

Mary Ann Brandl, an original member of Roslyn’s historic preservation movement that restored more than 100 homes and led to the village’s designation as historic, died July 19. She was 88.

Brandl was partners with Roslyn Landmark Society founder Roger Gerry and other members of the 1960s movement that pushed for Roslyn to be designated, researched its history and restored homes. She dedicated more than 50 years to the efforts, her nephew Carl Brandl said.

She was a member of the Roslyn Historic District Board for decades and lived in a historic home on Main Street.

A nurse by trade, Brandl was both Gerry’s surgical nurse and assistant in his preservation efforts, her nephew said.

Brandl was born April 26, 1931 in Amsterdam, NY to Edmund and Mary Brandl. She was one of seven children and attended nursing school in her hometown before moving to California to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of San Francisco.

After staying in Sausalito, Calif., and working at a hospital, she returned to New York in the 1960s and cared for her father. She began working at Columbia University and eventually chose to live in and commute from Roslyn, Carl Brandl said.

She purchased her home in 1981 where she lived for the rest of her life, he said.

Brandl had the original deeds from 1896 and historic furniture, her friend Glenn Koebel said. She would talk about how the property owners lived in their barn while using their trees to build the house, he said.

“The house is history, and I loved going in there,” Koebel said.

Brandl wrote the booklets used for the Roslyn Landmark Society’s annual house tour, sifting through microfiche to compile the history of the buildings, Village of Roslyn Trustee Craig Westergard said.

“She never wanted anybody fussing over her, and she didn’t want to be taking credit for things,” Westergard said. “She just wanted to be the worker bee.”

Brandl was brilliant and a problem-solver, her nephew said.

“She was kind of uncompromising and very direct, which made her excellent at her occupation in the nursing field and her sort of chosen vocation in historical preservation,” he said.

Brandl, who lived with her sister in Roslyn for years, never married or had children. But she had friends throughout Roslyn whom she enjoyed spending time with and helped assist her toward the end of her life, Carl Brandl said.

“She was very solitary and content on her own, but when you brought her out of her shell, she was quite social,” he said.

Koebel said he met her four years ago when he helped her shovel snow. They would often have lunch together at Delicacies Gourmet where she talked about her past and her family, he said.

“I knew her for four years, but it was the best four years for me and her,” Koebel said.

Mary Ann Brandl is survived by nephews Carl, Eric and Mark Brandl and nieces Terri Brimm and Barbra Johnston. Westergard said he plans to arrange a memorial in the fall.

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