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.”
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 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