DOROTHY VALENTINE SMITH HOUSE

Staten Island, New York

HOUSE RELOCATION, COMPREHENSIVE RESTORATION

This single-family residence was built between 1893-95 for John Frederick Smith, a leading figure in banking on Staten Island.  It is noteworthy because of its restrained Queen Anne Style, becoming an individually designated New York City Landmark in 1987 within the Special Hillsides Preservation District. The lot on which sits the Dorothy Valentine Smith House had, until the late 1880s, been shared with the John King Vanderbilt House, which until recently was owned by descendants of the same family. The lot was later subdivided into two separate lots. The house is named after the daughter of John F. Smith, Dorothy Valentine Smith, active in preserving Staten Island's history and historic sites. The family genealogy includes two significant New York families: the Vanderbilts and the Vredenburgs.

Location

Staten Island, New York

Client

Private

House Relocation Completion Date

2002

On-Going Maintenance

1996-present

Design Team

Davis Building Movers (house relocation); 

GC Sterling Contractors (exterior restoration & masonry)

The Department of Transportation had acquired by eminent domain, a strip of property along Clove Road and Victory Boulevard to enable each roadway to be widened to manage increased traffic and create a bus lane during peak hours.  The “taking” removed a considerable portion of the front yard and a berm that separated the private garden from the public thoroughfare changing the relationship o the house to the street.  At this time, portions of the corner site was also re-zoned to commercial space reducing the residential area on the lot .  The zoning line parallel to Clove Road placed the use demarcation at the middle of the house.   

The configuration of the house for use as a commercial property would be difficult without substantial changes to the exterior and in order to retain the park-like and secluded setting and improve the views from the wrap around porch, a study was made to determine if the house could be related to a mapped street, Waldron Avenue, that formed another boundary along the property.  The solution was to relocate the property on the site and seek a Special Permit ZR from the Department of City Planning under a 74-711 process.  Approvals were granted from the Department of Transportation (to remove the curb cut on Clove Road), the Department of City Planning, the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

An new in-ground full basement was excavated and constructed and the house was lifted, rotated ninety degrees, rolled up the hill and placed on top of the new basement and foundations. This rather drastic action reconstructed privacy and the open space around the house.  As part of the relocation design proposal, the corner site and landmark limit line were re-established to permit a commercial use on the site and for the historic house, a new curb cut at Waldron Avenue to perking on site parking and a small garage structure.  

While technically off the historic site, the corner commercial site will continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Landmarks Preservation Commission because of the financial obligation of the commercial owner providing funds that are to be allocated, in part, to the maintenance of the historic building on the hill. PACA prepared several feasibility studies for Country Kitchens, a family style restaurant chain, Duane Reade, and ultimately Walgreens.  PACA worked with the Architect of the new building to modify exterior details, signage and landscaping features not typically part of a Walgreen’s franchise package.

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