We knew this was coming, and the pandemic put it off longer than expected, but yesterday, the Gothic Revival house on Fairview Avenue was demolished, to make way for a new McDonald's.
For a house that had seen more than 175 years of history, its destruction happened heart-wrenchingly quickly. At 10:45 a.m., when I went to check on it, after being tipped off that its demolition was imminent, it was still intact, with a back hoe standing by. This was the scene shortly before noon.
The house fell but not for want of champions fighting for its preservation. Gossips first published word of its intended demolition three years ago, in February 2018. In 2016, John Craig had written a history of the house and its most notable occupants, called "Old Pointed Gothic House out Fairview," which is available in the History Room of the Hudson Area Library. When word of its proposed demolition was out, Craig and Paul Barrett made a concerted effort to get the house designated as a historic site, and they succeeded. In July 2018, the word from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was that the house was eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. SHPO asked that the house be incorporated into the design for the retail development or that the developer "build a very strong case for demolishing it." Apparently, they succeeded in doing the latter, because in November 2018, the minutes of the Greenport Planning Board report:
Chairman Stiffler explained that the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has provided a correspondence letter indicating that the structure in question can be taken down but will require three conditions be attached to that approval. Chairman Stiffler identified these conditions. The first condition is the building must be documented. The second condition is that a public exhibit of the building must be located in the new building or on the site that depicts the history of both the building and the site. The third condition is that the building elements and materials should be offered to a local non-profit architectural salvage or other capable organization.
There is no indication that the first and third conditions were met. There was some talk about removing the bargeboards for repurposing elsewhere, but they appear to have been still in place when the house was bashed down. It remains to be seen how the second condition will be met.
Meanwhile, we have another iconic moment to illustrate the wrongheaded of our culture.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK