Historic home may get fixes

Cross Posted from the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Historic home may get fixes
Staatsburg site is on threatened resources list

By John Davis
Poughkeepsie Journal

STAATSBURG – Joint efforts are under way to restore the grandeur of the historic Hoyt House at the Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park.

The Preservation League of New York has named the boarded-up and neglected structure to its 2007 “Seven to Save” list of most threatened historic resources.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning inside the gardener’s cottage adjacent to the Mills Mansion at Staatsburgh and near the Hoyt House.

A five-minute walk to the house secluded in the woods and overlooking the Hudson River revealed to the dozen in attendance what more than 40 years of neglect have done to the once-magnificent Gothic Revival structure.

“Despite some stabilization work in the past, the building has suffered from vandalism and lack of maintenance and is now vulnerable to water damage,” said Jay DiLorenzo, league president. “We are here to support the efforts of local advocates to find a suitable reuse for the building and to secure funding for its stabilization and restoration.”

The Hoyt House and grounds were designed in 1855 by Calvert Vaux, the architect and landscape designer who co-designed Central Park in New York City along with Frederick Law Olmsted.

The house was built for Lydig Hoyt, heir to a prominent New York merchant, and his wife Geraldine.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation acquired the house and 90-acre grounds in the 1960s. Finding no use for the building, the state has provided little upkeep since.

Building has suffered

Vines cover parts of the bluestone exterior and brownstone trim. Porches have rotted away and doors and windows are boarded to keep out vandals.

“That the house itself is standing is a tribute to Calvert Vaux’s engineering skills,” said Gerrit Graham of Rhinebeck, great-great grandson of the Hoyts. “The place was a gem and nowadays would be a gem in the state’s diadem of historic properties.”

The once-spectacular view of the river from “The Point,” the home’s other name, is obscured by recent forest growth.

“It’s amazing what 45 years of neglect can do,” said Richard Marx, a Hyde Park resident who participated in Wednesday’s short hike.

To get the fundraising ball rolling, Carol Ash, the acting state parks commissioner, has allocated $100,000 for Hoyt House preservation.

Organizations, including Hudson River Heritage and the newly formed Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance, have vowed to restore the luster to the tarnished historical gem.

“We have reached a pivotal point in our vision to save Calvert Vaux’s Hoyt House,” said Alan Strauber, preservation alliance president. “Neither one person, nor organization, can do this alone.”

Reach John Davis at jpdavis@poughkeepsiejournal.com or 845-437-4807.