Over the next full months the bulldozers will be coming to knock down the structures on the parcel where the Crompond Crossing development will be built. But before the heavy equipment starts demolishing what is there, Neil DeLuca is willing to let those who have an interest have a look around to see if anything of any historical significance can be found.
Crompond Crossing will be a mixed use project that includes two commercial buildings of 8,500 sqft. and 4,200 sqft., a 26 unit multifamily residential site plan, and a 29 lot subdivision.
The possibility that there might be some historical relics came from Jean-Francois de Laperouse, a Yorktown resident who is an associate conservator for The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. While on his way to go shopping at BJs, de Laperouse noticed something about the door way to the house located at 3372 Old Crompond Road.
“Research needs to be done, but the details of the house visible from the road such as the Greek Revival doorway (not the door itself) and the general shape of the house indicate that it is probably at least 160 years old and possibly older,” wrote de Laperouse in a letter seeking help from Councilman Nick Bianco. “The original owners of this house most likely farmed the surrounding area which is now covered with commercial buildings and their work in building our community should not be forgotten. Any structure this old deserves some respect and consideration before it is thrown in the dumpster.”
According to de Laperouse, he wrote to Bianco because the town no longer had a landmarks preservation committee and he wanted to make sure anything that could be salvaged from the historic house would be.
Bianco contacted a few local residents who were interested in historical preservation: Paul Martin, who is president of the Yorktown Historical Society, Ed Pell and Bill Primavera.
After reaching out to DeLuca, the group got permission to do an outside on-site exploration to see if there was anything worth adding to the Yorktown Museum’s archives. The property owner offered to help the historical enthusiasts cart away anything that the town may mind of value, once the house was ready to be torn down.
“You can have whatever you want,” said DeLuca, “just don’t try to hold up the demolition.” DeLuca has agreed to give the town the doorway, which de Laperouse has identified as a Federal-style doorway that still has its transom windows in tact on the inside. He has also invited the group back to see the interior of the house and the barn.
After some research de Laperouse and Primavera have identified the house as the Knapp house.
“In 1850 David and Drusilla Knapp were raising seven children in that house. It must have been a pretty active place and it seems fitting that it will be so again when Crompond Corners is built,” said de Laperouse. “At the same time, the lives of this family and others who farmed along what is now route 202 and built our community should not be forgotten. The best way to achieve this is to preserve something tangible from their home.”
The Society for the Preservation of Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture has volunteered to provide assistance in documenting the house and barn before they are removed from the property.
Bianco was able to rally up the support of the town. Town Clerk Alice Roker has agreed to accept any historic details the group would like to save from the Knapp House and store them in the barn of the Adams-Bernstein House on Old Yorktown Road.
Supervisor Michael Grace, whose law office is located in a historic building, said is he is also on board for saving the architectural details worth saving from the Knapp House.
Primavera, who has been advocating for months to re-instate the landmarks preservation committee, is thankful for the help the group has received from the town, but thinks that this could have been done already if there was still a preservation committee.
“We want to appeal to the new board to re-instate the committee so we can make sure that we do not unnecessarily lose out on pieces of Yorktown’s history,” said Primavera. “Not every developer is as accommodating as Mr. DeLuca.