Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner announced July 3 the town of Greenburgh will begin long awaited work to fix the Odell House in Hartsdale, one of the many National Historic Places located in New York.
According to Feiner, the town is assisting the New York chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in obtaining a $500,000 grant to help restore the Odell House.
The house, located at 425 Ridge Road at the edge of Old Farms Lane, is dilapidated and the .8 acres of land is nearly overgrown with vegetation. The wood is cracked, broken and — in certain areas — covered in moss.
The front of the house, which faces away from Ridge Road, is sparsely covered in blue tarp, seemingly to hide the large openings in the house. However, certain portions of that tarp themselves are ripped and failing.
There are also broken tree limbs of all sizes sitting at the house’s doorstep and behind those limbs are various leaves and bushes.
Further back on the property are two stands on which appear biographical information related to the American Revolution. Both those plaques are covered in dirt, obscuring the information they contain.
According to what can be discerned on the plaques, from July 6 to Aug. 19, 1781, the Comte de Rochambeau used the Odell House as a headquarters while his troops camped in a nearby field.
“Here, Rochambeau and General George Washington learned that the French fleet would be sailing into Chesapeake Bay and here the French and American generals decided to march their combined forces to Virginia to besiege the British army under Lord Cornwallis,” the plaque reads.
John Tompkins, a tenant farmer on Philipsburg Manor, built the first section of the house in 1732. Gilbert Bates, who subsequently purchased the house, was seized by the British army and never heard from again.
Lieutenant John Odell of the patriot Westchester Guides bought the house from Bates’ widow Sarah in 1785. The house remained in the Odell family until 1965, when it was deeded to the New York chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
According to Feiner, securing the grant begins with the New York State Consolidated Funding Application process through the New York Environmental Protection Fund. The town supervisor said the application will be submitted later this month.
“The funds will be used for architectural planning and design and construction work for an initial phase of securing the house from a structural and safety standpoint,” Feiner said. “It is anticipated additional funding will be necessary to bring the house full circle, to a point where the house is publicly accessible.”
According to Hartsdale resident Dan Weinfeld, the state of the house has been an issue for years.
“Finally, the town is waking up to this situation, but it’s not clear if [officials] know what they are doing,” Weinfeld told The Inquirer.
Weinfeld pointed out the Sons of the American Revolution have continued to receive tax exemptions while the house has continued to deteriorate.
In the case of the Odell House, the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution receive an exemption from county, town and school taxes. The only taxes the local chapter paid last year were sewer and refuse taxes, which totaled $144.
The Sons receive exemptions pursuant to code 26100 under New York State tax law. This exemption is reserved for veteran organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
According to state law, to receive the exemption, the Sons of the American Revolution are supposed to make a “good faith effort” to maintain the property.
Greenburgh Town Assessor Edye McCarthy told The Inquirer representatives from the local Sons chapter have applied each year for the tax exempt status and complied with the application standards every year.
The Inquirer asked McCarthy if she’d been over to the property recently and she said she could not remember if she had.
However, she said, in her estimation the local chapter has been making good faith efforts to restore the building and property, which is why she continues to grant the exemption.
The Inquirer reached out to the Sons of the American Revolution but did not receive a response by press time.