A pre-war home (pre-Civil War, that is) is carefully restored

The Riverdale Press - June 15, 2006

Not many clues remain to tell us what life was like in Riverdale in the middle of the 19th century. So much of the area has been paved over and so many of its quaint cottages have been replaces by high-rise apartment buildings.

But one reminder of the community’s rural charms still sits at the entrance to a whimsically-named tree-lined cul-de-sac called Ploughman’s Bush, at the confluence of Independence Avenue and West 246th Street.

It’s a commodious “cottage” built in the 19th century in a style popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing in his 1842 pattern book, Cottage Residences.

The home became a source of controversy two years ago when the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission declared that it was a hunting lodge built by the Delafield family, which purchased a vast tract of land extending from the Hudson River to Broadway in 1829. Later, the commission acknowledged that it could not find evidence to back its opinion, and withdrew its effort to designate it a landmark.

But a just-completed update by David Haimovich of Renaissance Renovations preserves or restores many of Downing’s signature details, while covering the distinctive red exterior with a more neutral color that is true to the cottage style. His work retains the home’s board and batten siding, and includes a welcoming front porch with octagonal columns and connecting arches and decorative caps over doorway transoms.

Inside, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom house boasts of restored crown moldings, timeless wide plank floors, a library with floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases, four working fireplaces, a dining room with expansive china closets, a warm and cozy living room, a beautifully restored first-floor solarium with a beamed ceiling and a second solarium adjacent to an upstairs bedroom.

The three-level house sits astride a steep hill and its lower level, which looks out into a garden, contains a bedroom, bathroom, living space and laundry room, as well as a brick-lined workshop.

The kitchen at the heart of the house is anything but historic with black granite countertops, a center island and brand new Professional Series stainless steel appliances, including a wine cooler.

Modern touches also include new energy-efficient windows, new insulation and wiring and a two-car garage.

Taxes on the property, which is for sale by the owner, are approximately $9,000 per year. The asking price is $2.9 million. For more information, call 917-923-0123.

See more photos from this project at http://www.renaissanceny.com/projects/ploughmans-bush.