Historic House in Yonkers Demolished while preservation legislation is considered

From Chuch Lesnick, Yonkers City Council President

Real Estate Committee Chair, Dennis Robertson, and I (Real Estate Co-Chair) have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 7:30 PM in the Council Chambers, City Hall, Fourth Floor. We will be discussing a local law that was introduced in Rules on June 5th to amend the Code of the City of Yonkers, in relation to requiring review by the Landmarks Preservation Board before a demolition permit may be issued for historically significant buildings.
Historic Preservation is very important to the City of Yonkers because the older buildings often define our community. While I don’t believe that every building should be saved just because it is old, we do believe that the City of Yonkers must allow its Landmark and Historic Preservation Board to do what it is supposed to do — look at each and every property of perhaps 75 years and older (to be decided) and make a determination as to whether or not the property ought to be landmarked before any demolition permits are issued.
This law may be the most historic preservation legislation that the Council has considered this century. Please come and support it.

The following excerpt about the Smith Collins House was taken from LANDMARKS LOST & FOUND: An Introduction to the Architecture and History of Yonkers:”While both Gothic styles employ many of the same motifs, the High Victorian Gothic is distinguished from its predecessor by the different fashion in which its details are treated.

Illustrating this difference is the Smith-Collins House at 323 Palisade Avenue. The lacy vergeboards of the earlier period are here replaced by strong, massive members with heavily molded profiles, suiting the Victorian notion of “character,” while its interconnecting braces despite their merely ornamental function resemble structural elements and answer the call for “truthful” architecture. Furthermore, its roofscape is much more complicated than that which would have been found on an earlier Gothic Revival building — it employs not only cross-gables but the large, hipped roofs that are a characteristic of many High Victorian Gothic buildings. The Smith-Collins House is a particularly interesting building which seems to have undergone a number of alterations over its time.
Featuring the corner pilasters and linteled windows that are usually associated with late Georgian and early Federal buildings, the house also incorporates a tall tower whose round arched windows are Italianate in inspiration. Appearing on 1854 tax records as the residence of L.F. Wheeler, the house was annexed to the adjacent Alexander Smith estate in 1873, and evidence suggests that shortly thereafter it was remodeled in the then fashionable High Victorian Gothic style.
Despite a lack of documentary evidence, it is posited that the building was the residence of Warren B. Smith, Alexander Smith’s eldest son, until his father’s death in 1878. In that year, Warren Smith, who succeeded to the presidency of the family’s carpet mills, took up residence at the Smith estate “Hillbright” and the house was sold to Charles Collins, a successful dry goods merchant from Hartford, Conn. who had moved to Yonkers to retire. In 1910, the dwelling was conveyed to Isidor J. Beaudrias, a prominent local lawyer. His application of stucco to its clapboard siding, remodeling of many of its porches, and removal of most of its decorative trim converted it into the castle-like structure that stands today.”

Not withstanding the pending legislation, the City administration issued a demolition permit for the Historic Smith Collins House. Parts of this house apparently date back to the 1850’s. I was going to use this space to rally public support to save the building — but we are too late!
Posted Under: Demolition, Legislation, Not New York

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