Perhaps a hundred concerned Edgewood residents showed up at Village Hall on Tuesday night May 15 to make a plea to save a beloved and historic home from demolition. Ironically, 9 Hamilton Road, the 1921 Mediterranean that sits on a third of an acre had been listed as worthy of preservation in a recent Historic Resources Survey commissioned by Scarsdale Village. Architects Li-Saltzman described the home as follows: “Although relatively small in scale, 9 Hamilton Road is a picturesque and whimsical example of Mediterranean-inspired residential design with its stuccoed façade, Spanish-tile roof, and arched loggia. The massing is especially well conceived as different masses, each clad in Spanish tile, build up to a hip-roof tower-like level.”
However, the same week the architects made their presentation at Village Hall, 9 Hamilton Road appeared on the agenda for the CHP when developers sought permission to raze it.
The Committee held over the decision on the home from the April 17 to the May 15 meeting to allow concerned residents to do some research and determine whether the home met any of the criteria for preservation.
Residents did some digging and unearthed information about the home’s original owners that ultimately saved the day. The home was originally owned by Ida Ruggiero. She immigrated here from Switzerland in 1906 and married Mr. Ruggiero in 1910. He was Scarsdale’s first policeman and was gravely injured on the job in 1918. When he retired in 1920 and he his wife bought the land and built the house in 1921. Once retired from the police force, Ruggiero opened an auto shop on Post Road where he repaired, sold and leased cars with chauffeurs.
Tom Giordano from Montgomery Road added that the house had “special character” and “aesthetic value” and urged the Committee to prevent the demolition of the home which was one of only four in Edgewood on the preservationist’s survey.
Bill Giddins of 14 Hamilton Road said that the home is “a beacon of joy to all who live here,” and said that “its’ demolition would damage the interest of neighboring landowners.” He noted that the sale price, listed at $999,087, was well below market rates.
John Hagerty, a 26-year resident of Rodney Road drew applause when he called 9 Hamilton Road “a gateway home for our community” saying, “it would be a crime to tear it down.”
Another Hamilton Road man urged the committee not to move forward with allowing the home to be demolished before the Village Board could formulate a new policy on preserving homes listed in the Historic Resources Survey.
Kristen Lewis of 24 Barry Road called the home a beautiful example of Mediterranean revivals with elements of eclectic style. Saying, “Scarsdale is known for homes built in the 1920’s,” she added, “it doesn’t make sense to tear down a good example of why we all moved here. There are many opportunities to move into a new house. This is a rare house getting more rare every year.” She urged the committee to “think about what we value.”
Committee Chair Robert Scheibe reviewed the criteria the committee considers to preserve the house:
- Is it of substantial historical importance?
- Is it more than 100 years old?
- Did a person of historic importance live there?
- Did it represent the work of a well know architect or designer?
- Is it an example of a significant style?
- Is it listed on the national, state or county register for preservation?
He noted that yes, a person of importance had lived there and it was perhaps an example of a significant style. He told the group that 4 out of the 7 committee members would need to vote yes to save the house.
A discussion ensued among the committee about whether or not the home had been renovated or modified. Jill Serling, a Committee Member said they she did not buy the argument that since it was one of only four homes in Edgewood it should be saved, saying, “I can’t buy into the Edgewood vs. the rest of Scarsdale argument.”
Ultimately Chair Scheibe asked for a motion to vote. Three hands went up to make the motion and there was a moment of silence and suspense before he called for the vote. Scheibe then asked for a show of hands to vote for the motion. Five hands went up in favor of preventing demolition and immediately there were loud cheers from the audience.
It was a historic moment for the committee, which in recent years has failed to save homes at 1 Duck Pond Road, the Marx Estate and more recently at 3 Sherbrooke Road. The newly formed Committee for Historic Preservation appears to be more sympathetic to appeals to save Scarsdale’s oldest homes. Perhaps this will send a signal to the Village Board when they consider how to adapt the Village Code in response to the Historic Resources Survey.