Friday, November 20, 2009
A recent article by Stephanie Strom, "A Revolutionary Widow's Estate Becomes a Preservation Battleground," New York Times (Nov. 17, 2009), describes a brewing fight over one of the most significant of the great Hudson River properties: Montgomery Place. Click here for a link to the post, and here and here for additional background about the property. Montgomery Place, which is located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, is an incredible 1802 house built by Janet Livingston Montgomery, widow of Revolutionary War hero General Richard Montgomery. Montgomery descendants maintained the property until the mid-1980s. In 1984, the family sold the house and its surrounding 434 acres to Historic Hudson Valley, a nonprofit group founded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., with the hope that it would be preserved as a museum. The group's current leadership, however, contends Historic Hudson Valley can no longer afford to maintain Montgomery Place, citing $500,000 in annual operating costs and cost-prohibitive renovations. As a result, it may have to sell all or part of Montgomery Place. In response, former board members, including former Wall Street titan, Richard Jenrette, have stepped forward with alternatives, including transferring the property to the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. So far, Historic Hudson Valley has rejected this offer, but local leaders and neighbors have vowed to press for alternatives. They consider Montgomery Place to be part of the public trust.
Will Cook, Charleston School of Law