Famed Connecticut Mansion To Be Replaced
Dear Preservation 911,
My family has lived in Greenwich, Conn., since 1920; and since 1927, my family has owned the Greenwich Historical Society landmarked McCutcheon Home, which is located at 36 May Avenue in Belle Haven.
After both of our parents' passed away, in order to pay federal & state estate taxes , my siblings and I were forced to sell this family home on Dec. 7, 2007, to Rene and Marie-France Kern, who are currently living at 36 Butternut Hollow Road in Greenwich. We were told before the sale that the Kerns were planning to renovate our home. If we knew that they were planning demolition of this historically and architecturally very important Greenwich home, we would have sold it to another prospective purchaser.
Around mid-February, someone informed me that a demolition sign was posted at our former home; The Greenwich Historical Society confirmed that indeed this was the Kerns' plans. On Feb. 24, and March 27, there were articles in the Greenwich Time about this matter.
Our former historic family home in Greenwich is the only remaining example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture currently existing in Greenwich. (Trinity Church in Copley Square is a well known example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.) The architect and all of the craftsmen who built our home came from Boston.
My family went to great efforts in retaining the original architectural details. There is a pair of eight-foot-tall stained glass windows decorating the staircase in the interior; they are situated to the left of the front door on the exterior. There are nine fireplaces throughout our former home, all with hand made tiles from the Chelsea Tile Company in Swansea, Mass., a most prominent tilemaker of its day. The dining room has magnificent parquet floors, and the entire ground floor has ornate plaster moldings.
In the early 1900s, there was a postcard printed of our former home. On pages 75 and 76 in the May 1889 issue of Scientific American, Architects and Builders Edition, there was an article about our former home with a large photo and floor plan.
In the November 7, 2004, Home Magazine of the Greenwich Time & Stamford Advocate, there was a pictorial feature story about our former home titled "The Belle of Belle Haven; Dramatic design harks back to bygone era" by Meghan Oliver. For this article, Ms. Oliver interviewed James O'Gorman, emeritus professor of the history of American art at Wellesley College, who states: "The construction of a Richardsonian Romanesque building was very labor intensive. The stones used to build the homes, sometimes weighing up to a ton each. Because of the cost, it is unlikely that an authentic Richardsonian Romanesque structure would be built today. In a sense, Richardsonian Romanesque homes are an endangered species. This makes homes such as the Malleys a living relic."
Several New York brokers have informed me that Scarsdale and the Hamptons have architectural review boards where all demolitions must be approved. These people were very surprised that Greenwich does not have similar protection for such important homes. Thank you very much for any help you can offer with this situation. It greatly pains me to think that all future generations will be deprived of witnessing the phenomenal construction and magnificent beauty of our former home.
P.S. The GHS applied for a 90 day stay of the demolition. It is now probably closer to 60 days left with this stay. It is my understanding that demolition can begin around the end of May.
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