Committee for Historic Preservation Debates Historic Significance of Manor Home at 11 Dolma Road Plus Home Sales
- Category: Real Estate
- Published: Wednesday, 01 July 2020 08:42
- Sophia Albert
At its first ever meeting held via Zoom, the Committee for Historic Preservation met to consider the fate of four homes on Tuesday night June 30. Last on their agenda was an application to raze 11 Dolma Road, a grand manor home designed by Scarsdale architect Julius Gregory and built in 1928-29.
CHP Chair Adam Lindenbaum sought to defer the discussion to the committee’s next meeting for several reasons:
First the committee had not had sufficient time to review the attorney’s extensive application, which is 189 pages and can be viewed here:
Lindenbaum said that an article about the house published on Scarsdale10583.com had only been sent to the committee that day. See the article here.
He said that the lawyers were complaining about the press coverage of the application, but dismissed their claims saying, “Anyone knows that Scarsdale10583 reports this stuff…. It is going to come out. It is available to the public…. You have ample opportunity to be heard.”
Lindenbaum said that the Village had asked for an opinion from Andrew Dolkhart, the author of the 2012 Reconnaissance Level Cultural Resource Survey of homes and landmarks in the Village. His letter was received by the Village on June 26, 2020 and has not yet been made public.
He suggested that there were some similarities between this application and another home that architect Julius Gregory designed at 53 Old Orchard Lane and asked the Building Department to make those records available to the committee. He said, “I think some research may be in order about homes designed by this architect.”
Furthermore, the committee members had not had the opportunity to walk the property as it is protected by large hedges and a gate and they were unable to gain access.
Lindenbaum had questions for the new owners, Sarah and Steven Binetter. He asked if they now lived on the property and if they were interested in the character of Dolma Road. As the house is owned by a legal entity he asked if they had the right to live there. He added, “Because you brought up their intention, Dolma Road has been the subject of a neighborhood, as a way this Village came to be. This block is spoken about in general. We are allowed to ask about the integrity of the design and setting – and I think the setting is something for us to consider. Furthermore he questioned the Binetter’s intentions for an adjoining property at 100 Mamaroneck Avenue that was purchased by another legal entity at the same time. He said, “There is fear by this committee that demolitions will happen piece meal without disclosing the larger project issue. What is their intent with respect to 100 Mamaroneck Avenue?”
Steven Binetter responded saying, “We did indeed purchase 100 Mamaroneck. We have no intention to demolish 100 Mamaroneck. It is owned by a separate LLC.” Referring to a comment made by a reader of the Scarsdale10583 article he said, “One thing that concerned me about the article was when people misrepresent me. There was a comment from someone that I was trying to make a buck. I have been a Scarsdale resident for 5 years. I live at 30 Stonewall Lane. We bought (11 Dolma Road) with the intention of establishing our family home there.”
Binetter continued, “The house has severe topography – there are steep steps down to the yard.” He said his son was having trouble navigating the stairway. He continued, “We love the property so much we are spending time in the backyard. The house as it is built is completely unsuitable.”
Attorney Lawrence Graham asked the Committee to hear their case despite Lindenbaum’s move to adjourn.
The lawyers maintained that the home did not meet the Village’s criteria for preservation, and that architect Julius Gregory was not a master, the home lacked “high architectural style” and had lost it’s integrity after repeated renovations.
Architectural Historian Emily T. Cooperman presented her findings about the house.
It was originally designed in 1927 and built by builder and developer Walter Collet. Alternations were made to the home in 1941, 1946 and from 1995-2004. She highlighted altered dormer windows, the addition of a bay window, the construction of a second story over the servant’s quarters, the replacement of a shed roof and the relocation and replacement of the front door. She sought to demonstrate that changes to the windows and repair of the stucco had undermined the integrity of the original design.
She corrected a claim she had originally made in her report that the 3 garage door openings had been changed, saying, “I was under the misperception that the garage doors are different than the original. I now understand that the openings are original.”
She concluded, “that the alterations have led to the loss of integrity of design, materials and workmanship” and that the house “no longer has its historic volumetric organization.”
She dismissed the idea that Julius Gregory was a master, as he applied but was not admitted to the AIA. CHP Member Kevin Reed pointed out that Gregory had received several gold medal from the New York Chapter of the AIA. As further evidence, Cooperman said that Gregory's work had been published in popular magazines of the day rather than architectural publications.
Reed questioned Cooperman’s conclusion that the house did not have “high artistic value.” He said, “In your personal opinion it does not meet the standard for high artistic value … is there some criteria?” Cooperman responded, “It must be exceptional compared to its peers.”
To the question of whether or not Walter Collet was a master builder, Cooperman attributed his reputation to the fact that “he had the perspicacity to publish his work in a book,” (in which 11 Dolma Road is featured.) CHP member Jonathan Lerner pointed out that “Walter Collet was responsible for building half of Scarsdale,” including several homes on Dolma Road.
Cooperman said, “Gregory specialized in the small house. Size is not necessarily important to design. If you accept that he is a master, he was a master of the small house. He wrote about small houses and English cottages, not a large manor house.”
Committee Member Lauren Bender said that Gregory had built large homes of note as well, including 4730 Fieldston Road in Riverdale, 125 Stratton Road in New Rochelle, a large home in the Cotswolds in Edgemont (19 Cotswold Way) and also designed one of the first buildings in downtown Scarsdale, 1 Chase Road. She said, as an art historian, we sometimes see that “an artists significance is not realized until years after they die.”
Referring to the changes made to the home over almost a century Bender said, “The servants quarters were probably changed due because of modern life – and everyone would need to change windows after all these years.”
CHP Member and architect Mark Behr said, “The house is still clearly recognizable. The house is a hundred years old – they have made modifications and additions can be made to homes on the national register. In regards to Collet and Julius Gregory, there is a lot of information on Scarsdale10583 about these two. One Chase Road set the paradigm for the design style as everyone knows as Scarsdale Village. …There is a lot of information that we have to look at from both sides.”
Earlier in the meeting, the Committee approved applications to demolish3 Windward Lane, 49 Fayette Road and 112 Lee Road. The Lee Road home had originally been on the agenda for a February meeting where neighbors raised objections and the discussion was adjourned. Though the structure was originally the NELIC meeting house and school, the committee determined it had been so altered that it had lost its historical significance.
The Committee will continue to discuss the application for 11 Dolma Road at their July meeting.
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