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Stiehle House is victim of through-and-through crash

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The Stiehle House has a new see-through feature. Photo by Abigail Della Cerra

ANCRAM—The Stiehle House at 2407 Route 82, on the southeast corner of the County Route 7/Route 82 intersection in the Ancram hamlet was the victim of an intruder, the morning of Saturday, July 18 at 3:25.

A vehicle plowed into the north side of the unoccupied, run-down, old structure and out the other side.

The State Police handled the crash but did not respond to a request for accident details.

The Ancram Preservation Group (APG) owns the house and had just a few days earlier started renovation work there.

Some shoring up of the building was done just the morning before the crash and “was probably the thing that kept it from collapsing. We were due to pour a new rear foundation wall [July 20], but that obviously will not happen until we get beyond this immediate situation,” APG President Christopher “Kit” White told The Columbia Paper by email this week.

The Stiehle house is thought to be one of the oldest domiciles in the town of Ancram, dates back to the early 1800s, and “stands as a ‘gate post’ to the entry of the town,” according to the APG website (www.ancrampreservation.org/).

The crash does not change the APG’s plans to renovate Stiehle House, wrote Mr. White, but he said that Building Inspector Ed Ferratto “has determined that nothing can be done until an engineer has determined its viability.”

Mr. Ferratto could not be reached for comment before press time.

Mr. White said, he and a contractor “have looked at the building and determined what we think will be required to put it back together, but we will defer to the building inspector as to if and when such work might begin. We still believe in the project and will continue to work toward restoring it for the [Ancram Opera House’s] use.”

The Ancram Opera House (AOH) received a grant from the state to conduct a planning and feasibility study into how much it would cost to develop Stiehle House into a mixed use building that would serve AOH as an office, and housing for interns and artists, AOH owners/directors Jeffrey Mousseau and Paul Ricciardi said via email this week.

“Once AOH completes this study, based on what is learned, AOH would then potentially apply for more state grant funds to rehab the building. If awarded these funds, then AOH would begin discussions with the APG about donating the building to AOH, which APG has said they would like to do,” they wrote.

One of the buildings most notable features is its location just about a foot off the highway.

Asked if the building has ever been hit before, Mr. White wrote, “When there was a porch on the front of the house, the edge of the porch was grazed by a bus. But I know of no other time that the house has been hit by a vehicle.”

In a follow-up phone call July 23 after the above story was printed, Mr. Ferratto reported having consulted with an engineer from Taconic Engineering who deemed the Stiehle House structurally unsafe. Mr. Ferratto said he was going to let APG President White know that the building must be demolished as soon as possible.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com

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