Officials Tour The Grove

Abandoned historic building interior described as ‘horror story’

By Michael Turton

Local officials toured The Grove on Sunday (Aug. 15) – and what they saw was not pretty. The tour was held at the request of the Village of Cold Spring Historic District Review Board (HDRB), Cold Spring Mayor Ralph Falloon said. Along with Falloon, Village Trustees Charles Hustis and Matt Francisco had a first-hand look at the interior of the building, as did HDRB chairman Al Zgolinski and board member Carolyn Bachan. Notice of the tour indicated that the public and press could not participate, “due to the condition of this structure.”

Members of the HDRB and Village Board toured The Grove.

Members of the HDRB and Village Board toured The Grove.

While views undoubtedly differ as to the most appropriate future for the building, reactions from those on the 20- to 30-minute tour underlined the decrepit state of its interior. “I’m surprised by the amount of loss over the years … it was worse than I expected,” Francisco said, adding, “but it’s a very special building.” Francisco pointed out that many of the interior windows are the  “pocket” or sliding variety, a 19th century design that promoted good air circulation.

“Either we do something now or …,” Zgolinski said, his voice trailing off. The HDRB chairman bemoaned the disappearance of several of the house’s mantels over the years, something that he said contributed to significant interior water damage. “It’s a shame it was left to rot for so long,” he said. When Bachan emerged from the building, she said simply, “It makes me very sad. We have to think about this. It’s irreplaceable in a way.”

Trustee Hustis was blunt. “It looks solid from the outside – the brickwork,” he said. “But inside it’s a horror story. All those years of neglect by the village,” took its toll, he said.

A wooden porch on the west side of the building is very badly deteriorated. At a Village Board meeting several weeks ago, Falloon said it will be repaired before winter. Asked after the tour if, other than the porch, the building is solid, he responded, “No. No. No. It’s not solid. You’re looking at well over a million dollars,” to restore it.  Falloon said that a tour for reporters would be arranged in the future.

The porch is badly deteriorated and interior water damage is a major issue.

The porch is badly deteriorated and interior water damage is a major issue.

The Grove sits high atop the embankment across from Drug World and behind The Nest daycare  on Chestnut Street. Built in the 1850s, it was designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn (1802 – 1878)  and is listed on the New  York State and National Register of Historic Places. It was acquired by the Village of Cold Spring in 2003 and has sat empty for years. The Village repaired the roof several years ago but not before the building suffered considerable water damage inside. Village trustees have yet to decide the fate of the historic building.

In 2012, a Request for Proposals (RFP) resulted in an offer of $1,000 to renovate the building as a single-family home. That offer  was rejected. A new RFP is being prepared.

Photos by M. Turton

2 thoughts on “Officials Tour The Grove

  1. The comment by Trustee Hustis is inaccurate. By resolution on March 4, 2003, Lucio Petrocelli donated the building to the village. On March 8, 2005, a resolution for the establishment of the committee for the restoration of the Grove, Loretto Rest was passed by the village board. A local resident donated $250,000 to assist in the restoration.

    An architect was brought on board and on August 2006 he presented the village with an Inventory of Surviving Historic Fabric. From that time on it was decided to remove the 3rd floor of the building and restore the roof line that is in existence today.

    The damage to the interior of the building was inherited by the village. Hopfully we all can work together and restore this beautiful building. If money can be raised to put chicken wire around our waterfront, anything is possible.

  2. When options for the Grove were considered in 2005 and 2006, many pleaded that its beautiful mansard roof be saved. The Village Board and HDRB, over the objections of many in the community, approved its removal, which had the effect of stripping hundreds of square feet of usable space from the structure and destroying much of its historic fabric and charm. The argument at that time was that the building would be brought back to its “original” design, even though the mansard roof was installed by the early 1870s, while Dr. Lente still lived and worked there.

    The Village Board might want to include a clause in any new RFPs that states that proposals that call for restoration of the mansard roof would be given extra points. Acknowledging past errors would be a good first step to giving the public confidence that the right choices will be made going forward.