The restoration of the Odell House on Ridge Road in Hartsdale received an additional $1 million infusion last month from New York State and the Town of Greenburgh.
On Dec. 16, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that 56 projects had been awarded a total of $24.3 million in grants from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund, including $500,000 for the Revolutionary-era Odell House, which the Town of Greenburgh must match.
In December 2019, the Town received a $600,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Fund for the restoration, which the Town matched. The Town plans to turn the house into a museum by 2026, in time for the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The oldest part of the house was built in 1732, with additions in 1760 and 1855. In 1781, from July 6 to Aug. 18, the house was the headquarters of the Comte de Rochambeau, the commander of the French soldiers camped at the current location of the Sunningdale Golf Club off Underhill Road.
The French were allies of the Continental Army, which was camped at the current site of Ardsley High School under the command of Gen. George Washington, whose headquarters was at the home of Joseph Appleby, at the current site of the WFAS radio station off Secor Road.
Washington and Rochambeau considered attacking the British in New York City, but instead opted to march their troops to Yorktown, Virginia, where the British surrendered. The Dobbs Ferry Historical Society celebrates that march with an annual Road to Freedom Day.
Greenburgh is in the process of securing two additional $500,000 grants, according to Garrett Duquesne, commissioner of the Town’s Department of Community Development and Conservation. The Town will not need to match the grants, which will be administered by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. The grants were sponsored by State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti.
The first phase of the restoration included installing temporary shoring throughout the house and replacing the subfloors in the 1855 section. The second phase, which is underway, involves replacing the wood shingle roof of the 1855 section and repairing the roofs of the two older sections, which were replaced in 2008.
For the first two phases, the Town hired the firm of Abbott & Price of Millwood, led by president Ed Napoleon. Abbott & Price’s recent projects include replacing the millpond bridge at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, as well as the roof, siding, and wharf of that historic site’s gristmill.
For Odell House, the third phase will involve doors, windows, and the outer wall shingles, as well as permanent stabilization and structural upgrades. The Town plans to solicit bids from contractors this spring, according to Duquesne.
To oversee the restoration, the Town hired the architectural firm of Stephen Tilly, in Dobbs Ferry, which specializes in historic preservation.
Landscape architect Susan Jainchill, a resident of Ardsley, is designing a cultural landscape plan for the site, funded by the Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters, a nonprofit formed to assist the Town with the restoration. The landscape plan will include a kitchen garden, a meeting space, an outdoor classroom, and a monument to four French soldiers who died during the encampment. Jainchill is the founding principal of Aspect 120, a firm located in Irvington. She is also president of the Westchester County Historical Society.
In March 2020, the Town purchased Odell House for $1 from the New York Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, which had owned it since 1965. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In March 2021, that chapter sued the Town for $10 million, alleging the Town pressured the chapter into the sale by removing the chapter’s nonprofit property tax exemption. That case is still pending, according to Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.
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