A major development for the Heights neighborhood has begun with the rehabilitation of 2 Courtney Avenue! This house has been in very poor condition for many years. Finally, a new owner has come along who is preservation minded. As you can see in the photo below, the house has been stripped of many historical details. The cupola was a large detail that was removed, and thankfully it is being replaced.
Neighbors are over the moon.
“After 10 years, I’m thankful for the new roof on this amazing house next door, and the sweet sound of construction.”
“This is such a huge renovation for the block.”
“I am so excited for this! That whole area is so beautiful and this is one of the best houses! So much character.”
Image via page 86 in Newburgh (Images of America: New York), by Kevin Barrett
This week the aluminum siding was taken down, revealing the original shingles that are still intact over 100 years later! Restoring these homes in Newburgh is no walk in the park. They require expertise and help from historic tax credits that make the cost more affordable.
The Newburgh Community Land Bank is trying to save the shell on 33 Lander Street. They are accepting feasible proposals completed along with this form. Basically, you should view this as their last plea to save the structure before it would probably need to be demolished. For all your preservationists out there, spread the word before this ends up like 290 Liberty Street!
According to the RFP:
“Newburgh Community Land Bank took ownership of 33 Lander Street in December 2014. Since that time, we have had numerous engineers and contractors review the property but have not been able to identify a feasible plan to restore it. Our formal engineering report recommends the removal of the building. The building is completely collapsed on the interior, the roof is collapsed, and the brick is deteriorated from the weather. That report is attached to this RFP.
Prior to proceeding with any plan to salvage materials and make redevelopment plans, NCLB is soliciting proposals for any person or entity with an implementable, fundable proposal to preserve the existing shell and bring the property back to productive use. Any proposal to restore the property will need to be accompanied by evidence of available funds. It is NCLB’s estimate, based upon experience working with similar buildings (deteriorated shells etc), that the costs to remove the material and restore the building will exceed $700,000. Any successful proposal would have a timeline shorter than 24 months or proposed timeline and justification for additional time.”
Almost 70 years later, a few still stand in Orange County
Many people have heard of the pre-fab homes that Sears, Roebuck and Company produced between 1908-1940. Sears offered 370 models and over 70,000 were built across the nation. Many of these homes are still standing around Orange County but they are difficult to spot because they used conventional balloon-framing techniques and materials in their kits. But, our local architectural variety includes another story of a pre-fab housing solution from the 20th century that is less familiar.
For a short two years, from 1948 to 1950, the Lustron Corporation created pre-fabricated enameled steel homes that were advertised as low maintenance and affordable.
The idea began with a Chicago inventor named Carl Strandlund who, in response to the post-World War II housing storage, created a division of the Chicago Vitreous Enamel Corporation to construct homes in a Columbus, Ohio factory. They planned to construct over 45,000 homes but only 2,498 homes were completed. Although they had orders for over 8,000 more units, after only 20 months of operation, the company closed its doors and 800 employees were laid off. The closure was due to failing to repay a 12.5 million Federal agency Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) loan that was borrowed to begin production. The Lustron Corp. was selling the homes at a low cost between $6,000-$10,000 per unit and the company was losing money on each order. Although the cost seems inexpensive, the Lustron homes were sold through a dealership system similar to automobiles distribution which meant the dealers had to cover the initial costs of purchasing lots, pouring concrete slabs and running utility lines. The final home purchaser would be paying around $11,000 to acquire the completed property which was considerably more than buying a typical wood frame house at the time.
The architectural prototype was created in collaboration with architects Roy Burton Blass and Morris H. Beckman as a 1,000 square foot, two-bedroom home made of steel framing. The exposed steel on the interior walls and roof had a porcelain-enamel finish. The manufacture of each home required 12 tons of steel and 1 ton of enamel. The customer could choose the colors from a number of options including pink, tan, yellow, aqua, blue, green and gray on the exterior and beige or gray for the interior. The 3,000 pre-made parts would be carried on a truck and assembled on a concrete slab.
The homes were designed to use space effectively. Every room had built-ins which accounted for over 20% of the home’s square footage. The bedroom had a vanity, the dining room had a buffet and pocket doors throughout the home eliminated the need to allocate space for a swinging door. One futuristic luxury that was included in every home was a built-in washing machine that with the addition of a rack could do double-duty as a dishwasher.
A few months ago I was alerted to the existence of some of these gems, two in Middletown and one in Highland Falls. After a bit of commentary from the Facebook community on the Orange County History and Heritage page, a follower pointed out a street in Newburgh that featured a cul-de-sac with four Lustron homes. Please let us know if you know of any more in the area because the Preservation League of New York is compiling an inventory for their records.
The Newburgh Historical Society’s annual Candlelight Tour features a dozen decorated homes including a diverse assortment of public and private spaces – mansions, structures in the rehabilitation process, new construction, architectural gems, and some of Newburgh’s most important landmarks. For years, community members within the second largest historic district in New York State have generously decorated and opened their homes to visitors in support of local history. The 1830 Captain David Crawford House, located at 189 Montgomery St., Newburgh is the starting place for the Tour.
After 4 years of being vacant and going on the market in March, a new family is moving into 164 Grand! This house has amazing historic details that the new owners plan to maintain. Yes, they are from Brooklyn, but Julie is French Canadian and her husband is Danish. They have been gracious enough to share the details of their home and the work they are planning to do. You can see a cherry picker above fixing their original slate roof.
“The roof needed fixing (that’s actually already done) and the 2-story porch in the back needs to be re-done. Inside, it’s mostly minor cosmetic work. Everything that is original to the house and not broken will stay as is. Later additions (we believe some of the wallpaper was put up in the 90’s and we will be replacing some of it). And there are a few broken windows which need replacing, including 2 of the round windows in the bay window.”
Enjoy the photos and remember, there are plenty of other homes like this in Newburgh waiting to be preserved (large and small). Restoring a house and want to share your journey? Email me, email@example.com
One of 3 sets of original pocket doors
Built-ins galore. Marble sink and original built-ins adjacent to bedroom and Butler’s pantry seen from dining room.
Beautiful and amazingly sturdy staircase. In incredible condition given that the house has been vacant for 4 years.
1877 flush toilet, possibly one of the earliest in the US, found in a small room in the basement and was presumably used by the servants.
One of the many original gas lamps. This one, however, is the only one that still has its shade.
Copper sink in butler’s pantry.
Pocket door key.
Detail of one of 4 wood burning fireplaces. Each fireplace has a different design and different tiles around.
More fireplace details.
Those floors and tiles!
Back of the house with a 2 story porch that will eventually need to be redone.
More exciting news for another Newburgh mansion that is in need of repair, 420 Grand has sold to a couple from Brooklyn. The minute I laid eyes on this house I knew it would be perfect for the New York Social Diary. Fortunately the writer, John Foreman, thought the same, and it was featured in May 2014. Mr. Foreman really dug in to the history and took many detailed photographs if you want to see the inside. One of the most intriguing details of this home is a supposed connection to the Astor family which may, or may not be true.
When the house was first featured here, we all agreed the house has Royal Tenenbaums/Wes Anderson vibe. Everything from the kitchen to the 50’s bathrooms are amazing. Loads of wood work, fireplaces, sconces, wallpaper and more. As for now, I have no idea what plans the couple has for the home. It is immensely exciting and fulfilling to see that another Grand St beauty has found owners just like the Monell Mansion.
Now if we could only find someone to buy 4 Grand and the Arno…hmm.