Bruderhof appeals demolition denial of farmhouse

By Laura Fitzgerald
Posted 5/8/19

Following the Town of Montgomery Historic Preservation Commission’s (HPC) denial of their request for demolition, the Foxhill Bruderhof Communities will appeal to the town board for a …

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Bruderhof appeals demolition denial of farmhouse

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Following the Town of Montgomery Historic Preservation Commission’s (HPC) denial of their request for demolition, the Foxhill Bruderhof Communities will appeal to the town board for a certificate of appropriateness (COA) for the demolition of the historic Milliken Farmhouse.

The house was placed on the local historic register in 2006, so any demolition or modification to the house requires approval of a COA from the commission.

HPC chair Mary Ellen Matise said the commission had very little to go off for a structural assessment, and town building inspector Walter Schmidt determined the house was not in danger of collapse in an assessment in August of 2018.

In the absence of a structural assessment, Matise said the HPC had to follow its mission statement, which is, “to protect, enhance and perpetuate our heritage so as to ensure the quality of life in the Town of Montgomery for present and future generations.”

In a meeting on April 28, the HPC denied the COA for demolition of the house, but allowed for the demolition of the barn behind the house, which is newer and Schmidt determined was unsafe.

In a letter to the town board, Foxhill Communities President Hans Boller said the Bruderhof hosted multiple tours with town historian John Pennings, town officials, town supervisor Rodney Winchell and all members of the HPC, who appeared to have a general consensus that the building is beyond repair and should be taken down.

Both town engineer Mike Aiello, Jr. and Pennings concluded the original historical elements of the building have been destroyed by neglect and the subdivision of the house into apartments. Aiello warned of potential liability due to vandalism and squatters in the house.

They concluded the cost of repairs would be incredibly expensive and the house could not be restored to its former historical value.

“The entire house is a shell of its former self,” Pennings said. “It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the house to modern standards. It can never be restored to its original historic character.”

Boller said the logic that was used on the barn should be extended to the house, which is structurally compromised.

“The barn is every bit as old and ‘historic’ as the house, and if the HPC agreed to take that structure down based on the building inspector’s opinion that the barn was structurally suspect, common sense would dictate that the same logic be extended to the house as well if in fact the house is structurally compromised,” Boller states. ”

The town assessor’s card for 18 Coleman Road claims the oldest barn dates to 1900, while the house dates to 1760.

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