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Hillsdale, East Chatham sites eligible for historic register status

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ALBANY–The New York State Board for Historic Preservation has recommended the addition of 32 properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including the Hillsdale Historic District and the Rowe-Lant Farm in East Chatham.

The two local sites are on the list with such nationally significant sites as the Chinatown-Little Italy Historic District and the Westbeth artists’ studio and residential complex in Manhattan, the 1964-65 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion in Flushing and the West Point Foundry archeological site in Cold Spring.

The announcement of the designations cites Hillsdale and its Historic District as a “Federal period turnpike town, with many important surviving buildings, which evolved into a rural town center as railroad service was introduced in the late 19th century.”

“We’re excited about it,” said Hillsdale Supervisor Art Baer.

The district includes most of the hamlet around the intersection of state Routes 23 and 22, and Mr. Baer said the official designation will help protect the district from any “unilateral” decision by the state or federal government to undertake some sort of construction project that would affect the homes there.

Being listed on the registers may also open up more funding possibilities for the district, including the possibility of money for the library building on Route 23, which the town is purchasing for a town hall.

Mr. Baer said the designations will not require the town to change its zoning or other regulations in any way. He said that property owners in the district will not face new restrictions on what they can do with their homes or land unless an owner accepts federal or state funds for the restoration of the property. In that case, relevant government guidelines would apply.

Dorothy Mackerer lives in the Rowe-Lant home on Route 295, a structure that has been in her family since 1816. Construction of the red brick home was started just before the Revolution but was not completed until the owner at that time, Josiah Warner, returned from wartime service to the new nation.

In its early years it was a tavern on the road from West Stockbridge to Stuyvesant landing.

Mrs. Mackerer, who is currently revising a historical booklet on East Chatham, applied for inclusion on the registers herself. She is a 5th generation descendant of the Rowe family; her father was Ray Lant. She said that some of the bricks for the house may have been made in a nearby meadow. And though she said there are always things about an old home that would benefit from some work, she described the Rowe-Lant House as “very livable.”

Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said the designations that follow the recommendations are a formality and that the recommended sites will automatically be included on the state and federal registers as soon as the paperwork clears the state office and then the National Parks Service. He estimated that process would take two months.

“These nominations highlight the diverse forces that have shaped New York’s history,” said state Parks Commissioner Carol Ash, in a press release from the agency.

The agency says that listing these properties on the State and National Registers can assist their owners in revitalizing the structures, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of the state and the nation. There are 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.

Also on the list are Millerton Historic District in Dutchess County, described by the agency as a distinctive example of a village commercial district within an agricultural community that developed with the opening of the New York and Harlem Railroad in 1851, and the William Brandow House in the Greene County community of Athens, directly across the river from Hudson. The state calls it a representative example of 18th century vernacular architecture in the Hudson Valley.

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