Historic Stone Landmarks at Risk

Saving old buildings seems a struggle, a tug of war between individuals who seek to preserve our heritage and those in charge of the structure, the land it sits on … or the purse strings.

Right now, two stone structures are at risk as groups involved in their care work to reach compromise.

Steuben House, Dutch Colonial, sandstone building, George Washington

The Steuben House in River Edge, New Jersey, is an excellent example of Dutch colonial style. The sandstone structure served as General George Washington’s headquarters in 1780. Source: Ken Lund.

The Steuben House, located at Historic New Bridge Landing in River Edge, New Jersey, is a Revolutionary War landmark, as it witnessed an important retreat from British forces led by Gen. George Washington on November 20, 1776, and also served as Washington’s headquarters for a time in 1780. The sandstone building, an excellent example of Dutch colonial architecture, is long overdue for repairs; talks are ongoing amongst parties involved: the Bergen County Historical Society, the state of New Jersey and the Department of Environmental Protection. Difficulty in raising funds to make repairs and improvements and disputes over types of improvements that can be made at the park have delayed progress.

Newburgh Dutch Reformed Church, Greek Revival Style, Alexander Jackson Davis, fieldstone church

The Newburgh Dutch Reformed Church is a fine example of Greek Revival style. The endangered fieldstone building needs a new roof. Source: Abandonedhudsonvalley.com.

A New York state historic site in desperate need of TLC, the former Newburgh Dutch Reformed Church is an outstanding example of Greek Revival style. The church, designed by famed American architect Alexander Jackson Davis, was built in 1838 on a hill overlooking the Hudson River. The structure, reminiscent of the ancient Greek temple at Illissos, rests on a five-foot-high podium, features four 37-foot-tall columns and fieldstone walls that were once covered in stucco and painted to resemble stone. In recent years, wall and ceiling collapses have left the building vulnerable to decay and vandalism. Funds to stabilize a failing roof are desperately needed; the city of Newburgh and the Newburgh Preservation Association have reached out to Newburgh’s Community Land Bank for assistance.

Do you know of a historic stone structure that can’t seem to catch a break? Share with us!


An Early German Stone Home Too Far Gone?

Endangered Old Stone Home Christian Herr II House Lancaster County

Christian Herr II House, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Photo, Lancasteronline.com

The Christian Herr II House, a two-story stucco-over-stone home located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was just added to the 2015 Watch List of Most Threatened Historic Properties in Lancaster County by the Lancaster County Preservation Trust. The oldest portion of the home dates to 1734 and was built by the son of Christian Herr I, an early settler who built the Hans Herr House, the oldest original Mennonite meeting house still standing in the Western Hemisphere.

According ot owners Randy and Christine Andrews, who have been renovating the home for the past six to seven years, the home suffers from two bowed beams (one significantly cracked), deteriorating stone and mortar and the effects of poorly handled additions/alternations. The couple would like to demolish the home and build new, a plan recently approved by their local planning commission. The Andrews said existing details and materials would be salvaged for use in construction of the new home.

Local historians hope to come to a compromise with the couple: to save the oldest portions of the home (circa-1734 and 1760) and/or the most important architectural details, namely the original attic beams, entrance and cellar.

“Situated on the southern portion of the original 530 acres purchased from William Penn (1644-1718), this house is one of the oldest still standing of those built by the second generation of Lancaster County’s earliest settlers,” says the trust. “Even though changes have been made to this house over the years, it still reflects the Germanic architectural style of its roots.”

What would you do? Bear the financial burden and restore at all costs or raze and build a new home that reflects the past?