Allow Its Day in Court: the Butler Manor House:
The 1908 Butler Manor house designed by renown architects, Lamb and Rich, faces possible demolition.
Swift action is needed to schedule a public hearing date for landmark consideration by NYC Landmarks Commission. Once Calanderd it could not be destroyed until the hearing is completed. Support is needed to urge them to protect this irreplaceable building and community resource.
Up until recently, the house was used as a Montessori school, but was sold in May 2010. Many student, teachers and neighbors have expressed support towards preserving this manor house and need your help in preserving a piece of history for the next generation. The house is habitable and offers many adaptive reuse possibilities. Due to its close proximity to state and city parkland and a DEC Bluebelt, the manor house and property provide possible educational, cultural and recreational uses. It is situated adjacent to DEC Bluebelt and nature preserves, which include Long Pond Park, Butler Manor Woods and Mount Loretto. The preservation of this historic home offers more than just landmarking a building, it offers potential uses for a growing community that is undeserved with cultural, educational and recreational facilities.
The Butler Manor Estate situated on the South-eastern shore of Staten Island, originally included 65 acres, a mansion, cottages, a second house, carriage house, several barns, outhouses, racetrack and a gatehouse. A privately owned cottage sits at the corner of Hylan Blvd and Butler Blvd, one of the original cottages of the estate for the gatekeeper. Next to it are two brick pillars from the original Butler Manor Estate, framing the entrance of the estate at Bulter Blvd. It leads visitors toward Raritan bay, surrounded by the NY State Bluebelt, called Butler Manor Woods. The road passes the estate’s carriage house which has been transformed into a newer private residence; The original peaked roof remains although the original structure was expanded and it is covered with stucco; next to that on Flower Avenue is one of the barns, also a private residence with interesting roof lines. Proceed further down Butler Blvd and directly across the street from the Butler Manor House is a lovely Victorian house, sometimes mistaken for
the Manor house. This house was built for a Butler family member on the estate and is probably older than the current Manor House . Its current owners refer to it as the real Butler Manor, but the Tottenville Historical Society begs to differ. It features a wrap-around porch, some gingerbread trim and has been featured in many photo shoots. It is a beautiful home and is available for such purposes by its current owners.
Across the street is the larger, Butler Manor house associated with Elmer T. Butler and designed by Lamb and Rich. It is a grand 1908 Neo-Classical style house,built with fire -resistant stucco-cement construction. Local historians report that the earlier manor house on the property was a wood-framed house which was demolished after a fire that took the life of one of Mr. Butler’s young daughter.
The mansion features Doric columns, sun porches, dormers, French doors, Palladium style windows and over 7,000sqft of living space. The original Mediterranean- inspired clay tiled roof has been removed, but the many original architectural details remain. The interior has original fireplaces, fixtures, hardwood floors and Corinthian style columns throughout. A racetrack is long gone and views of the Raritan Bay are obscured by overgrown trees, but a grand 1908 Manor House remains and is waiting to be landmarked.
The Manor House has historic merit; built for businessman Elmer T. Butler, a member of a prominent early Staten Island family dating back to the 1770s. The Butler Family settled in the Lemon Creek- Tottenville area and purchased property owned by the Billop family, another early family of Tottenville. One unconfirmed connection is to David C. Bulter, who owned the Butler and Sleight Shipyard in 1885.
Elmer T. Butler made much of his fortune in silver mining and other business ventures. The property was sold after his death in the 1940s and many of the cape style homes along Butler Blvd are built on the what was once the Butler Manor Estate and Farm. Newer McMansion have appeared more recently.
The home, designed by Lamb and Rich, merits landmarking. It is a rare survivor of country homes designed by this firm. As per research conducted by Barnett Shepard for the Tottenville Historical Society and Butler Manor Civic Association:
The original gardener’s cottage of the Butler Manor Estate is preserved on NYC Parkland. It was sold to NYC Parks by its former owner Mrs. Holland with the hope of preserving a piece of the community’s history. It is part of a NYC Parks long term plan for the area. On the Butler Manor Estate, the area used as a parking lot was sold a few years ago and a McMansion was built. It borders NYS and NYC parkland, nature preserves and the waterfront, specifically Raritan Bay. Shall we allow another McMansion to block our views and public access to State and City parkland? One road at Clairmont Ave, between Richard Ave and Bulter Blvd, has already been illegally blocked by a private property owner. There is an opportunity to preserve a piece of history and create a community anchor here.
Please voice your support to preserve the Butler Manor House, let the public, the taxpayers show their support for this effort and not allow another piece of history to disappear. The residents of Staten Island, especially the South Shore, deserve the preservation of an important piece of history. The property and additional privately owned structures tell a story and once they are gone, what will be remembered? It is very important to save the mansion, the most significant portion of the former Butler Manor Estate and Farm.
Send your letters of support to NYC Landmark Chairman ,Mr. Robert Tierney at firstname.lastname@example.org and Research Director, Ms. Mary Beth Betts at email@example.com or call LPC at 212-669-7817 to express your support for the landmarking of the 1908 Bulter Manor House, designed by Lamb and Rich.
This article includes the opinions of Angela D’Aiuto, Board member of the Preservation League and NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson. Also, resources for this article include:Barnett Shepard, Tottenville Historical Society and Butler Manor Civic Association; Expert.com, About.com; Tottenville : The Town that Oysters built.