The Richardson House, a Plandome Manor home nearly 300 years old, was torn down on Thursday despite efforts to preserve the structure by preservationists and village officials.
The house was built in 1730 in Massachusetts. In 1923, 10 years before Plandome Manor was incorporated, resident George Richardson had the house dismantled, moved to its present site and rebuilt. The house was approximately 2,700 square feet and had an attached garage.
This past spring, the house was a point of controversy throughout Plandome Manor, with village officials pushing for the house to be used as a new village hall, much to the ire of some residents. A referendum that would have allowed the village to utilize the home for a new village hall and called for the issuance of a $600,000 bond to finance the acquisition and relocation was defeated in April by a vote of 119-87.
Village officials planned on moving the house roughly 1,000 feet down the road from 149 Circle Drive to a vacant village-owned parcel north of Stonytown Road. Previous meetings were flooded with residential concerns and claims that environmental impact and drainage studies were not conducted.
According to the real estate website Trulia.com, the Richardson House was sold on Dec. 20, 2021, for $1.3 million after being on the market for more than two years. The buyer was a developer who has filed for a demolition permit and a building permit for a new house.
Linda S. Agnew, an attorney who represented homeowners on Circle Drive, said the board was “railroading” the process through the proposition.
Plandome Manor residents Kate Dunn and Sarah Meriggi, in a letter to Blank Slate Media on behalf of Circle Drive residents, said the traffic study, conducted by VHB Engineering, did not properly compare the current traffic flow with the estimated flow if the Village Hall was relocated.
“The estimation of the traffic generated by the Village Hall includes an estimation of trips made by the three employees plus the average number of visitors to the village office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” according to the letter.
Robert Eschbacher, principal engineer at VHB, concluded that the relocation of the Richardson House would “not have any measurable impact on the existing traffic flow conditions along Circle Drive.” VHB’s study said the weekday average of vehicles near the proposed village hall location on Circle Drive was 219 vehicles per day. If the Richardson House was moved there, the study said, 11 trips per day would be added, six of which would be by staff members.
Village Mayor Barbara Donno and other members of the village’s board of trustees expressed their support for the proposition but hoped that despite the referendum being defeated, there were other ways to preserve the longstanding home.
“The village board has always based their decisions on what they felt was in the best interest for the whole village and its residents and will continue to do so,” Donno said in a statement following the vote in April. “This vote does not end our pursuit of finding adequate space within the Village and moving our village hall back to Plandome Manor where it belongs. We will continue to discuss and evaluate all other possible options.”
Village officials did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the matter further.