Updates on the Monell Mansion: Mold, Cracks, Collapse and Decay


The Monell Mansion on Grand Street is soon just going to be a distant memory with the rate of decay that is now happening to it. Brian Wolfe who grew up in the home until 1962 went back to take these photos on September 21, 2013 during an open house. My, how things have changes since the last time we looked at it. Things have been stolen, mold is growing, walls are cracking and floors are falling. It will take a couple hundred thousand to fix up this huge home. I hope that by posting these pictures someone out there with either a fat wallet or some ingenuity can figure out how to save the Monell Mansion, 288 Grand Street. The photos are so sad. No McMansion will ever give you crown moulding or wood paneling like this. Even the beautiful bathroom tile goes all the way up to the ceiling! There is also a carriage house that is collapsing out back.

You can see other coverage of the Monell Mansion from Newburgh Restoration here.

All photos © Brian Wolfe



Monell Collage 1





Monell Collage 2










17 Comment

  • This home is a true gem, and it MUST be saved…First thing is that it needs to be secured and protected from trespassers…and it needs to be secured from further weather damage…and the property taxes need to be aggrieved – Unless I am mistaken, the taxes on it were nearly $20K per year the last time I looked. That’s prohibitively high, and will discourage anyone from investing in it.

  • I just pulled the tax records and according to the records the taxes in 2010 were $18,671, 2011 taxes were $15,148 and in 2012 taxes were $9,722…the City of Newburgh owns this treasure and they really need to get this into private hands of someone willing to restore this home back to it’s former glory or at least preserve it otherwise this home will be another casualty of neglect and fall beyond repair, we have enough of that !!! Yes, a ton of money needs to be pumped into this home but here is a prime home in a nice neighborhood that could and should be back on the tax rolls with a little incentive and cooperation from the city, ex: tax breaks, grants, etc. for an OWNER occupied buyer not another investor….just my humble opinion !!!

  • What a beautiful home. I only wish I had the cash to renovate a gem like this. Tearing it down is a sin.

  • Does anyone know what us going on with this property?? It was supposedly auctioned off by sealed bid more than a year ago… What happened??

  • Maybe our only hope is HGTV….

  • The city owns it, it is the city’s responsibility to secure it or aggressively find a buyer for it. Meanwhile there are people in City Hall making outrageous salaries for their output- people who are directly responsible for securing such properties. This is a good example of City Hall’s malfeasance toward the Historic District and their deceptive lip service about the importance of such buildings. They expect the responsible citizens of this community to pay high taxes, nickel and dime them every chance they get (see the recent parking fees/fines) and then let this happen. Take a look at the public relations codes sweep on Dubois Street, spearheaded by our Fire Chief. They targeted people who had jumped over hoops to improve their properties and gave out tickets for such things as untrimmed bushes- and ignored complaints about an obviously illegal boarding house. How can they expect anyone to observe the laws when the city itself doesn’t observe its own laws? Try approaching them about this and they will state that- because they are the city- they don’t have to follow code. This building is under the auspices of the Land Bank. They just got a huge grant. They can afford to secure this building. There are no longer any excuses. Where’s the Council or the Council-elect person for this ward? Oh, hahah, she’s involved with the Land Bank. How convenient.

    • I am posting this from St paul MN. I am a restoration contractor and I own a company called “Circa 1900Llc” I purchase neglected properties and restore them and put them back on the market all as SINGLE family homes. I have been following this blog for over a year. I have been involved in preservation groups and I think the best method is to find a good attorney pro bono who understands real estate law etc. Get a group together and file as a corporation or non profit and force the city to start working with you. I would also form a group “Friends of Monell Mansion” and start securing the building and removing things that can be taken and storing them somewhere. You have more leverage and power than you realize. I wish I lived there although the taxes are insane. I actually wrote to your mayor about a year ago after reading a story about her…never heard back. Best of luck to all in Newburgh. Kevin

      • Kevin, you are right about forming the group idea. At least from my end that would be something I would be capable of doing. I have already formed 2 similar pages for other structures in Newburgh: the Liberty St School and the City Club both have fanpages on FB.

        The other thing I was considering was to get the mansion featured on This Old House Magazine’s website for “Save this old building”. I am still working on submitting that. I just need to find out what the list price is before I submit it. Again, having a hard time getting that info from the city.

        And thanks for following NR from so far away! That’s great to hear.

      • Thank you, Kevin. As a former Architectural Review Commission member, I slowly learned of our powers through New York’s State Historic Preservation Office- realizing that the city’s representatives at those meetings deceived us into believing we didn’t have authority. As I became more aware of that power, I stepped on some incompetent people in City Hall and was ultimately sued- via a SLAPP lawsuit- and hilariously, a followup RICO suit- to shut me up- and anyone else daring to speak out. I won by default, empowering me but scaring others. We have very few people willing to fight to preserve the very foundation of what makes Newburgh so important in the history of American architecture. There’s a lot of lip service and tea parties but little action. We have lost many buildings in the 25 years that I’ve lived here unnecessarily as a direct result of apathy, incompetence and deceit. It’s refreshing to hear from someone else who is aware of our powers. I am ever hopeful that newcomers will join with the handful of us and overturn those attitudes of the people who have enabled the destruction.

        • To Michael and Cher.

          After having worked for a city for twenty years I don’t have to tell you the amount of “back door” deals, deaf ears, arrogance and ignorance. I found most people that makeup City Councils are “Vinyl Siders” they don’t care to much about history or architecture, They are consumed about “liability” and who is reponsible for what and that translates into a lot of passing the buck. Having said that it is imperative that you or someone of a like mind secure a seat on the council . If that is not an option you better get someone from the council on your side. I’m sure i’m telling you things you already know ,but with my background City Managers,Mayors, and Councils can and will take on a “Bully” attitude the only way to take on a bully is to fight it.

  • Beautiful structure. It would be a shame for it to be torn down. I agree that this would be a perfect “Save this House” in TOH magazine.

  • After doing some research I discovered that the high bid for the property as a result of the property auction was rejected by the City Council as too low. Now, over a year later, they have taken no action to come up with a solid price or plan of action to secure the building. This is destruction by neglect, pure and simple. There needs to be some accountability here.

    • The comments here are enlightening, and, greatly appreciated. We do have the power to change things in this city and it will happen.

  • The city needs to sell this to a qualified owner occupant for one dollar and be done with it. A local bank needs to get on board and do the financing for the “restoration” not rehab or remodel. Lastly a ten year tax abatement with affordable property taxes. This home will not make another freeze thaw season without working HVAC. Its starting to rot from within.