Historic Home is Razed Before Preservation Committee Completes Its Work
- Category: The Goods
- Published: Wednesday, 03 November 2021 19:37
- Joanne Wallenstein
In spite of a leading architectural historian’s finding that a 1920’s Tudor home designed by W. Stanwood Phillips warranted preservation under Scarsdale’s current code, the home has been all but demolished.
An application to raze the house at 41 Hampton Road was considered at the June 29 and July 27, 2021 meetings of the Committee of Historic Preservation. After the June meeting, the Committee for Historic Preservation sought the opinion of architectural historian Andrew Dolkart who found that the home warranted preservation.
In his opinion he noted:
"The most talented architects working in revival styles, especially medieval-inspired styles, often provided details that give a sense that the house was centuries old and has either weathered over time or been built with primitive technologies.” He says, 41 Hampton Road exhibits this in “the irregular texture of the heavy roof slates, in the carefully grooved woodwork that Phillips specifically noted on his elevation drawings, in the turned and squared, medievalizing balusters, in the stylized detail of the spandrels, keystone and lintel of the entrance arch, in the gable overhangs with drip pendants etc.”
He also observes that the house has retained its architectural integrity to a very high degree in that “the windows, slate roofing, woodwork, brickwork, and other elements of the building all appear to be original.”
His criteria to rule that the house warranted preservation were as follows:
1. The home is the work of a master as it was designed by architect by W. Stanwood Phillips, a noted architect who was “closely involved with creating the character of the Village.
2. The home is the “quintessential Scarsdale home,” and part of the “broad pattern of Scarsdale history."
3. The home embodies the “distinctive characteristics of an English Tudor Revival style house" and uses the style “in an extremely creative manner to create a fine example of the middle-class suburban architecture that distinguishes Scarsdale.
Due to the fact that two members of the committee were not present at the July 27 meeting, Chair Adam Lindenbaum held over a decision until the full committee could be in attendance the following month. The application was again adjourned at the committees next meeting on September 28. (There was no meeting in August.)
However, the applicants didn’t wait for a ruling by the Committee for Historic Preservation before applying to the Board of Architectural Review to demolish a good part of the house. On August 23, then owner Stewart Hung won approval for what was called a “front addition” to the house. The documents show that the BAR approved demolition of 50% of the structure and removal of “stucco beams and brick,” the distinctive features listed in historian Dolkart’s memo. The Board of Architectural Review approved plans by architect Miguel Sostre to build a 9,500 foot square house that bears no resemblance to the original historic structure.
This week, Brite Avenue Development, owned by Eilon Amidor, demolished a good part of the house, the entry, the windows, the brickwork and more. Brite Avenue Development is now listed as the owner of the house.
Why the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) considered and approved the demolition while the application for preservation was still pending before the Committee for Historic Preservation and likely to be found to warrant preservation is not clear. Oddly, the application to the Committee for Historic Preservation to demolish the house continues to appear on monthly agendas and was marked “Adjourned” on September 28 and October 26, 2021.
On November 4, the Committee for Historic Preservation released the agenda for their November 30, 2021 meeting and the applicant is now applying to "Demolish the remaining 59% of house with garage built in 1930."
In granting the developer permission to demolish 50% of the historic home, did the Board of Architectural Review consider preservation of the homes historic elements, its façade, grand entry and the elements Dolkart listed in his memo? Did anyone from the Board of Architectural Review speak to committee members on the Committee for Historic Preservation?
(Before and after: According to the CHP they only took down 41% of the original house.)
From the property record it appears that the Building Department was well aware of the developer’s plans as it granted approval to remove 14 trees on September 8, 2021 and approved a “front addition, new circular driveway and stormwater management system” on October 16, 2021.
It would be good to have a better understanding of what occurred. Can simultaneous applications be filed before both committees? Does the Village need to revise their procedures for applying to the Committee for Historic Preservation and the Board of Architectural Review? What does it mean to preserve a historic home? Does the façade need to be saved? What about the architectural details?
We have emailed our questions to Frank Diodati who heads the Building Department, the Chair of the Board of Architectural Review, members of the CHP, the Village Manager and the Mayor and received no response.