Restoration of the 281-year-old Elijah Miller House/Washington’s Headquarters in North White Plains will cost Westchester County an additional $1.5 million but is currently on target for completion late this year.
County Legislator Margaret Cunzio (C-Mount Pleasant) appeared at the North Castle Town Board meeting last week to update the public about the project, which required the extra funds. The unanimous vote by the Board of Legislators pushes the cost of the restoration to about $3.3 million.
Cunzio said there was more grading and site work needed at the Virginia Road site than first anticipated. That will ensure that the flow of water will not compromise the structure, she said.
Another change was to remodel one of the house’s upstairs bedrooms to be historically accurate while the other bedroom will be open with Plexiglas panels so visitors would be able to peer inside the walls and see how it was constructed, Cunzio explained.
There was also a major problem with the house’s front porch, she said. The contractor and workers were expecting that underneath the porch’s wood boards would have been a stone foundation. Instead, they simply found stones lined up next to each other.
“That in itself was a little disconcerting because we were actually shocked that the roof had held up because the posts go directly into the porch from that roof,” Cunzio said.
Despite the obstacles, the hope is to have the restoration completed by November, she said. The weather will play a factor in how quickly the work can be finished, although trying to finish in time for the Nov. 3-4 anniversary of the Battle of Miller Hill during the Revolutionary War may be a stretch.
Cunzio said that the blue tarp that had been covering the roof for several years after the house was closed and the target of much derision among those who wanted Miller House saved has been removed.
Daughters of Liberty’s Legacy (DOLL), a local nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving local history, has also received permission to film the progress at the site, she said.
Historical architect Jonathan Levy, who is overseeing the project, has been on site every day, Cunzio added. There is plenty of activity on the grounds on a regular basis.
“It’s really been a labor of love,” Cunzio said. “With Supervisor (Michael) Schiliro’s support initially beginning this project, just to sit down and have a conversation with the Town Board, it’s really been something that’s been in the works for a few years. I’m just happy that it’s moving forward very quickly now.”
Schiliro said that he passes by the site regularly and it’s satisfying to see that a piece of American history will not only be restored but appreciated for many generations to come.
“It’s good to drive past that and see all the work going on there and it’s finally happening and we’re going to have a beautiful Miller House for another 300 years,” he said.
The Miller House served as the headquarters for George Washington during the Battle of White Plains in late October 1776.