Meet Hugo Durand - Restoration Foreman

Hugo Durand earned his BA in American History from Hunter College and went on to earn his Masters in Early Childhood Education from The City University of New York. Beginning his career as a Teacher Assistant and Substitute Teacher at the Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School, Hugo taught 7th and 8th graders in science and math. Fast forward a few years and Hugo can be found working as a Carpenter and Project Manager with Fifty Three Restorations were he learned the ropes of the trades.

A true lifelong learner, Hugo shares how his principle methodology from teaching combined with deep love for history has elevated his work as a craftsman on the job at EverGreene.

1) What inspired you to pursue a career in preservation?
I started working in preservation to combine two long-time interests, history and craftsmanship. History has been a part of my academic career and I have always loved the idea of keeping history alive. My work at EverGreene allows me to bring new life into historic spaces and let others enjoy them for years to come.

2) Tell us about moving from teaching to working as a craftsman?
Like many others, my career took a few turns before landing where I am today. After receiving a master degree in childhood education and spending a few years in classrooms, I found myself looking for a new opportunity. I then had the chance to work in a on-demand delivery startup called Postmates—Now Uber Eats—as a market director. But burnout pushed me towards wanting to make another change. I wanted to see the immediate result of my work while maintaining a healthy work/life balance. At a wood restoration company I soaked in as much information as possible and refined my craftsmanship until I arrived at EverGreene.

3) Do you believe your formal education and training as a teacher assisted in your role today?
My teaching background has been tremendously helpful with my preservation foreman work. The methodology used in the classroom can be utilized on a job site in order to motivate and get the most out of your team on site.

4) What advice can you offer to the next generation of artists and craftspeople with this knowledge?
My advice for the next generation is to continue to learn by doing. We live in a world where information is a fingertip away, but there is not substitute for world experience.

5) What is your favorite EverGreene project you have worked on to date?
Although it may be the smallest project I worked on, the work at the Church of the Heavenly Rest on 5th Avenue in Manhattan is likely my favorite project. We cleaned the vaulted ceilings and painted stars to represent members of the congregation which had been lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. I find that this project represents what we do at EverGreene so well—continue the life of an almost 100 year old building while giving it new life for future generations.

Thank you Hugo for sharing your story!