Although it might be easy to drive past the unassuming house on 734 E. Boston Post Rd. across from the former Applebee’s without giving it a second glance, the over two hundred year old farmhouse is as much a testament to the founding fathers of Mamaroneck as it is to the changing priorities of a modern society.
And, if the Rye Neck School District has its way, the home will be demolished in the next few months in order to expand the athletic field at , according to the school’s website.
And, not surprisingly, local historical groups including the Mamaroneck, Larchmont and Rye Historical Societies as well as the newly formed Concerned Citizens For Preserving the Gedney Farmhouse have all opposed the decision to bulldoze the house on the grounds that the house is “not historically significant.”
Some have also said that not enough time was devoted by the district to getting the word out about the proposed demolition so that people could voice their opinions, leaving the decision largely in the hands of the school board.
Although the house has not officially been declared a historical landmark because of alterations to its interior as indicated on the district’s website, it still has many components of the original structure include hardware dating back to 1842, windows and doors, and rare chestnut wood used throughout, said Donald March, president of the Mamaroneck Historical Society.
The Gedney Farmhouse originally belonged to the Gedneys, an American family that arrived in Salem, Massachusetts around the same time as the Mayflower. They eventually migrated to Westchester County, where Eleazar Gendney married Ann Mott, the granddaughter of Mamaroneck founder John Richbell in the mid-1700s, said Jan Northrup, a member of the Concerned Citizens For Preserving the Gedney Farmhouse and former president of the Larchmont Historical Society. Their grandson, Johnathan Gedney, constructed the home around 1790.
“It tells the story of Mamaroneck as a whole,” said Northrup.
From the Federal period of architecture, the Gedney house is one of the last—other than the Delancey House—of its kind in Mamaroneck, said March.
Since the farmhouse was purchased by the Rye Neck School District in 1953, it has served a variety of non-agrarian purposes including being utilized as space for a kindergarten, a female boarding school and administration. More recently, the district has rented out the home to tenants and businesses.
Although the district has stated on their website that, “the buildings are no longer usable for school purposes and the land is a necessary part of our play space requirement for F.E. Bellows,” it is unknown when this project will actually be completed. Peter Mustich, Rye Neck superintendent, did not return a phone call seeking comment for this article.
“They don’t want to have the financial costs associated with it,” said Northrup, speculating what other reasons could be behind the decision.
March said the cost to maintain the property was approximately $25,000 annually.
Carol Akin, wife of former Rye Neck Superintendent Dr. Clayton Akin and founder of the Concerned Citizens group, lived in the house from 1976-82 and still has fond memories of her years spent there.
“This house is solid as a rock and beautifully built,” she said, continuing, “Structurally, it’s in as good shape as when I moved out in 1982.”
The groups interested in preserving the house, including members of the Gedney family, are asking the district for more time to consider additional possibilities for the house including moving it to a different location in Mamaroneck such as Harbor Island or putting it into storage until an open parcel of land is available. The cost to move the house would be approximately $60,000, however, it’s unknown as to who would provide the funding for this.
At this point though, anything is possible.
“We should be looking at destiny rather than demolition,” said March.
Anyone wishing to oppose the demolition of this home can attend the Dec. 14 meeting of the Rye Neck School Board of Education meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the MS/HS Library at Rye Neck High School.