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8 Overlookfront(Updated July 11, 2018)  After being denied permission to tear it down, the owners of a Mid-century Modern home at 8 Overlook Road in Scarsdale have put the house back on the market.
The home was purchased in May 2018 for $2.97 mm and an application was filed to the Committee for Historic Preservation (CHP) to tear it down.

At their May 29 meeting the CHP denied the application and the house is now back on the market for $2,990,000. The 3,317 square foot home has 3 bedrooms, 4 baths and sits on .95 acres with a 45 X 15 foot swimming pool.

This was the first meeting of the Committee for Historic Preservation since a change in the criteria for preservation was enacted. The prior code was even stricter than the national code for historic preservation and said, “That the building is the work of a master AND That the building embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction that possess high artistic value.” Under the new code, the AND has been changed to an OR so that as long as one of these criteria is met, the house can be preserved.

The home at 8 Overlook Road was designed by Edgar A. Tafel, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, for Jacob J. Alpern, an owner of Grand Iron Works, one of the largest fabricators and erectors of structural steel in New TafelTafel's rendering of 8 Overlook Road as shown in The Herald StatesmanYork. It was later purchased by the Ottinger family. Richard Ottinger grew up in the house and went on to serve six terms in the U.S. Congress, to found the Peace Corps and to become the Dean of Pace Law School.

The application to raze the home was filed by current owners Josh Kaufman and Nicole Israel who were represented at the May 29, 2018 hearing by their architect Chris Kitterman of Deborah Berke Partners, an architectural firm based in Manhattan. Kitterman noted that Tafel was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright and had built other homes in Larchmont, Bedford, Greenwich and Ridgefield. This house is the only example of Tafel’s work in Scarsdale. In addition, Tafel designed churches, including the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue and 12th Street in New York along with a chapel at JFK airport as well as a fine arts building at SUNY.

When committee members asked Kitterman if he thought Tafel was a master, Kitterman argued that Tafel was a disciple of Wright and said, “Just because we learn about an architect in school, it does not mean he is a master.”

The committee received many letter supporting preservation of the home, some offering evidence that Tafel was indeed a master.

A group called do_co, mo.mo_us, which stands for Documentation and Conservation of buildings, sites and neighborhood of the Modern Movement, sent a letter about the house to Adam Lindenbaum, the Chair of the Committee for Historic Preservation in May before the CHP meeting. In the letter, the group’s president, John Shreve Arbuckle said the following about Tafel and 8 Overlook Road:

“Tafel, who passed away in early 2011 at the age of 98, was the last survivor of Wright’s original Taliesin Fellowship team, and he was among the most prominent. Working with Wright and fellow apprentices from 1932 to 1941, he played key roles in the creation of such iconic structures as Fallingwater and the administration building for Johnson Wax in Racine, WI. After serving in the war, Tafel opened an office in New York City.

This house, completed in 1950, was among the earliest of his post-Wright commissions. It embodies distinctive design attributes of his residential work: modesty, practicality, and an intimate relationship with the landscape. Tafel was particularly attuned to the needs and rhythms of modern family life, which are reflected in his compact floor plans and built-in cabinetry. The house’s dipping eaves, cypress, and the continuation of exterior masonry as an interior finish are signature details of Tafel’s early residences.

Additionally, the design clearly reflects the influence of Tafel’s mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was sensitively restored by architect Linda Yowell for a prior owner.

It is rare to have a Modern Movement residence retain such design integrity. For the sake of preserving our region’s finite architectural heritage for the next generation, we respectfully urge your committee to use the full extent of your authority to prevent the unnecessary loss of this house.”

columbiaFrom the Edgar A. Tafel Archive at Columbia UniversityThe committee also received a letter in support of preservation from architect Linda Yowell who designed renovations to the house in the late 1990’s. She wrote that when the renovation was complete, she invited Tafel to see the house and in her words, “the house embodies the best elements of Tafel’s residential designs.” She also noted that there is a Tafel Hall at the Center for Architecture in New York
and at the Department of Architecture at the University of Illinois. Tafel was also instrumental in saving Wright’s house in Minnesota.

The house is also called out in the Edgar A. Tafel Archive at Columbia University. According to the archive, “Tafel was an apprentice at Taliesin from 1932 to 1941, after which he began his own architectural practice. There is evidence of a few of Tafel’s early residential projects from the early 1950s in the archive which survive in the slides, photographs, and in some files and drawings.”

Historian Andrew Dolkhart, who authored the 2012 Cultural Resources Survey of Scarsdale also 8OverlookFrom the 2012 Cultural Resources Surveyrecommended that it receive historic designation. In his report he said this about 8 Overlook Road: “Designed by prominent Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Edgar Tafel, this Mid-century Modern house has a horizontal profile, typical of Wrightian design, accented by the use of long thin Roman bricks. The house also has a hip roof and overhanging eaves. There is a prominent garage and a front entry set back from the street.

At the hearing, several neighbors spoke in defense of the house, one who said, “It would be a travesty to knock this down. The purpose of this new committee is to have some teeth and give some fight back to the community. If someone assumes they can buy a house and knock it down, there is no historic preservation.”

Jack Miller, a former Chair of the Board of Architectural attended the hearing and made an impassioned appeal to preserve the house. He brought Tafel’s books that are used when students learn about Frank Lloyd Wright and said, “These books are gospel.” He called the house “a timeless piece of art,” and an example of the magical results of a gifted architect and a willing client. To the members of the CHP he said, “This is the reason why you are here … This house is special…..I don’t understand why anyone would buy this without a contingency that it could be demolished. I am almost speechless.”

Committee member Lauren Bender said this house “embodies the distinctive characteristics of Mid-century Modern and Frank Llolyds Wright’s Usonian style and Prairie style – this is one of those seminal homes. It was built in 1950 and embodies 1950’s architecture.

The committee voted unanimously to deny the application for demolition finding that the home was the work of a master, which is defined as “A figure of generally recognized greatness in a field, a known craftsman of consummate skill.” They also believe it satisfies another criteria, that “the building embodies the distinctive characteristic of a type, period or method of construction that possess high artistic value.” However, the focus of their decision was Tafel’s “importance in the architectural history in the United States and of the Mid-20th Century period, and the particular integrity of the property’s design and construction as situated in the Fox Meadow neighborhood of Scarsdale.”

choiceScarsdale Middle School’s CHOICE program has often been celebrated for its inherently unique and independent nature. Yet a few months ago, the district announced that the CHOICE program would be moving into the interior of the middle school. Although the program will be moving merely a couple hundred feet, the implications on the student body are sure to run deeper.

CHOICE has been based in a former estate carriage house on the outskirts of the main middle school building for years. However the building is nearly 100 years old and is no longer compliant with ADA standards. The building also lacks a bathroom, so students regularly have to leave CHOICE to find a bathroom in the main building. If the CHOICE program were to continue as usual, the district would be faced with extremely expensive repairs and upgrades to the building.

In lieu of these repairs, the district chose to move CHOICE into two connected classrooms (the seventh grade health room and the speech room) and the Makerspace in the lower center.

There are many reservations about CHOICE’s move. “A big thing all Choice students are concerned with is having a space they feel like is their own. When we were in a separate building that was easy to accomplish. That will be the most difficult part to replicate when we move to the main building,” said Cynthia Parrott, CHOICE’S math teacher and Teacher-in-Charge.

Seventh grader Harrison Lambert commented that at first, many students felt confused and upset over the change. “The CHOICE building feels like our home now… you can tell how relaxed and used to the building that everyone is, and it’s sad to leave,” said Lambert.

However, the move will certainly bring many social and educational benefits for the students in CHOICE.

Lambert noted that better integrating CHOICE into the main building would help with the social transition to high school. “In the eighth grade, many of the kids say that ‘I’m moving into the high school and I’m not that good friends with people in the main building’ … it’s important for us to make stronger connections with the people in the building because if you’re only friends with the other 23 people in CHOICE, then there’s not even that good of a chance that you’ll get into many of the same classes as them in high school,’” said Lambert.

CHOICE will takeover the current makerspace --a newly finished technology room: filled with computers, iPads, laptops, soldering irons, and other technology tools. Given CHOICE’s emphasis on hands-on learning as well as science and math, further access to this space will prove invaluable.

Having all CHOICE classrooms in such close proximity to each other will enable the teachers to maintain the program’s close-knit community. The district is also in the process of planning a removable wall between the two classrooms CHOICE plans to take over “so we can have a large space for full group experiences that happen almost daily,” said Parrott.

New furniture and equipment has already been ordered to suit the needs of CHOICE’s unique Science and Humanities programs, and other renovation ideas are still in the process of being discussed. Parrott noted that many of these renovation suggestions came directly from students: a true testament to the collaborative environment within CHOICE. “Between the Choice students and the staff, we have some great ideas to make the space fit the program so much more effectively than our current small building does,” said Parrott.

greenacres movie nightThe Greenacres Outdoor Big Screen Movie Night scheduled for tonight, Sunday June 10, has been postponed to Friday, June 29 at 8:30 PM at Greenacres Field due to the rain. Hope to see everyone then!

DSC02343Chris Riback, Jennifer Palmieri and SAS Director Jill SerlingWhy did Hillary lose the election, how did Trump dominate the media and what does this mean for female contenders in the future? Author and communications strategist Jennifer Palmieri answered these questions and more in a live interview at Scarsdale Middle School on Thursday June 7, with questions posed by Scarsdale’s own Chris Riback, a journalist and host of the popular podcast Political Wire Conversations.

Palmieri was in town to promote the publication of her book, Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to Women Who Will Rule the World, written in the wake of the 2016 presidential election when Palmieri served as the Director of Communications for Clinton’s campaign. The book is described as, “an empowering letter to the first woman president, and by extension, to all women working to succeed in any field.” Palmieri said her book says, “what a lot of us were thinking but had not said out loud.” She said she wrote the book for the women in their early 20’s we were on the campaign. She wanted them to know that their efforts mattered, that they can make a difference and that women’s perspectives matter.DSC02336Palmieri takes questions from the audience

Riback asked her directly, why Clinton was not the first female president and Palmieri mused, “It was not just one factor …. if Jim Comey had not sent the letter... I wonder how much of this was just fate …. a racist and misogynist on a collision course with the candidate to be the first women president.” She said, “Let’s put forward the most qualified woman who has ever run against the least qualified man who has ever run.”

She called the election “a reckoning” and a “backlash against Obama,” when “voters’ frustrations whirled up to the surface.”

Palmieri reflected on the difficulty of electing a woman as president. About Hillary she said, “her personal scars mattered.” Palmieri explained, “She spent 40 years stepping outside of the role woman had played. She always challenged us, vexed us and confounded us. We didn’t know what to make of her.” Over and over Palmieri heard comments like “There’s something about her I just don’t like --- there’s something about her I just don’t trust.”

DSC02346Suzanne Seiden chats with Palmieri and gets her signed copy of the book.Palmieri concluded that some voters were simply suspicious of women and uneasy with ambitious women and used that as an excuse not to elect Clinton.

What message does this send to female candidates in the future? Palmieri advised women to “speak up,” and warned that if they don’t, they rob the world of their perspectives.

She advised women, who sometimes lack confidence, that they are good enough. About herself, Palmieri says, “I was intimidated by the job that I had. I feared that I was not the best person for the job. But we’re all just human – no one is up to the task – but you are good enough.” She said that Hillary taught her to get up each day and do the best you can with what you have to do that day. Live moment by moment and don’t let anxiety and dread overwhelm you.

As to why Trump is able to capture the news cycle, Palmieri said, “The reason he is able tDear Madam President book covero dominate is that he is willing to say outrageous things … crazy shit. He blows himself up everyday and dominates the news coverage. She added, “Trump’s strategy is to pit people against each other. The antidote is a democrat nominee who listens and bring people together.”

The audience was engaged in the conversation and enthusiastic about Palmieri’s book. They formed a long line at the end of the presentation to meet her and purchase a signed copy. The evening was hosted by the Scarsdale Adult School.

Robin Hood Lemonaid 2On Saturday, June 9th, Scarsdale kids, teens, and families will take a stand against poverty by setting up 'Robin Hood Lemonaid' stands around Scarsdale to raise funds for New Yorkers in need and support Robin Hood, New York’s largest-poverty fighting organization. Every penny raised will fund food pantries, soup kitchens, and other emergency food providers throughout the five boroughs. 

Robin Hood Lemonaid 5Robin Hood, founded 30 years ago, is today one of the nation's largest anti-poverty organizations and is focused on fighting poverty in New York by supporting over 200 community partners that provide education, food, shelter, healthcare, job training, legal support, and other services for people in poverty.

Scarsdale is part of a regional effort started more than 10 years ago, in which some of the tri-state's youngest poverty fighters have raised more than $1 million through the Lemonaid program and provided more than 800,000 meals to New Yorkers in need.

This years Robin Hood Lemonaid - Scarsdale Co-Hosts are:

The Bezos Family
The Brucker Family
The Goldfarb Family
The Hirschhorn Family
The Jahrmarkt Family
The Kass Family
The Kleinberg Family
The Lefkowitz Family
The Meyers Family
The Miller Family
The Neustadt Family
The Plattus Family
The Schwartz Family
The Wach Family 

Robin Hood Lemonaid 3About Lemonaid, Mark Bezos said, “Robin Hood's Lemonaid program has become a tradition in our family. For the past twelve years, our kids have set up lemonade stands with their friends around town to raise money for Robin Hood while having a great time. When my kids were younger, the Lemonaid program provided a wonderful conversation starter about helping our neighbors in need. It's also a great reminder that all efforts - big and small - can make a difference.”

After a day of selling glasses of lemonade to their friends and neighbors, all participants will be invited to a community BBQ to celebrate their efforts and count the money they raised to fight poverty.

Photos courtesy of Robin Hood. 
Robin Hood Lemonaid 4Robin Hood Lemonaid

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