Lori Zabar, historic preservationist and granddaughter of Zabar’s founders, passed away on February 3 after a five-year battle with cancer, according to the New York Times. She was a native Upper West Sider whose lifework helped preserve parts of the city she loved.
Zabar graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College and received a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Planning. She went on to obtain her Juris Doctor degree from NYU School of Law.
While practicing real estate law at the Marshall, Bratter, Greene, Allison & Tucker law firm, Lori got engaged to Mark R. Mariscal in May 1982. The couple married in October 1982 at Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel.
During her engagement, Zabar began her career in historical preservation. She served as the first director of the NYC Historic Properties Fund at the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a private advocacy group through which commercial, nonprofit, religious, and historic residential property owners are offered low interest loans and project management.
Lori opened the Kurland-Zabar Gallery in 1987 with business partner Catherine Kurland. The gallery stocked “English and American decorative arts from 1840 to 1940, with a special focus on the English Arts and Crafts style” and exhibited works from American ceramic artist George Ohr and British industrial designer Christopher Dresser.
She was also a research associate in the American Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art for many years. American Portrait Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, cowritten by Zabar and Met associate director for collections and administration and curator Carrie Rebora Barratt, was “the first complete catalogue of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of American portrait miniatures, tiny, vivid miracles of the painter’s art.”
Zabar was also a renowned scholar on W.E.D. Stokes, the multimillionaire credited with developing much of the Upper West Side. She even wrote her 1977 master’s thesis about him (“The Influence of W. E. D. Stokes’s Real Estate Career on West Side Development”).
Her work with the Preservation League of New York State led to the Zabar Family Scholarship Program. Three $1,000 scholarships are awarded to preservation students from around New York State to support their education and research. (Applications for the 2022 scholarships must be completed by February 22, 2022.)
Lori served on the Boards of Landmark West and Symphony Space and was a member of the Century Association and Thursday Evening Club, according to the Times. She is survived by her husband Mark, children Henry and Marguerite, parents Judith and Stanley Zabar, and siblings David Zabar and Dr. Sondra Zabar.
Her second book, Zabar’s: A Family Story, with Recipes, is slated to be released on May 3, 2022 and is already receiving rave reviews including one from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself. “Lori Zabar’s wonderful book is the story of America. Her family went from Eastern European immigrants to wildly successful businesspeople in just a few generations. I love this book, and the Zabar’s recipes are a delicious bonus!”
From all of us at ILoveTheUpperWestSide, our deepest condolences to the Zabar family.