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Four Teens Arrested For Fire At Historic Westchester Mansion

Firefighters responded to what turned into a three-alarm fire at Wildcliff Mansion in New Rochelle.
Firefighters responded to what turned into a three-alarm fire at Wildcliff Mansion in New Rochelle. Video Credit: New Rochelle Fire Department via Facebook.

Four teenagers have been arrested in connection to the fire that broke out at a historic Westchester mansion that burned to the ground, police said.

Dozens of firefighters responded to the Wildcliff Manor in New Rochelle shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26, when a fire was reported at the building, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

On Wednesday, police said that four 13-year-olds are currently being held accountable for the fire.

Three of the teenagers are facing trespassing charges and a fourth has also been charged with arson, police said.

The three-alarm fire quickly tore through the building, which has been unoccupied for years. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No one was living at the mansion at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

According to New Rochelle City Historian Barbara Davis, the mansion was built as a wedding gift in 1855 for Cyrus Lawton and wife, Sarah Marie Davenport.

“Wildcliff, as the Gothic cottage was later renamed, was gifted to the City of New Rochelle by the Julius Prince family in 1940. After having been utilized for city offices the building has housed a variety of not-for-profit groups and functions, including Wildcliff Natural Science Center, East Coast Performing Arts and Wildcliff Center for the Arts. The interior of the building has not been used for several years; the exterior was restored with funds from the sale of an adjacent property.”

In a statement released following the fire, New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson reminisced about times he spent at Wildcliff, calling the fire “a devastating end.”

“The news today from Wildcliff Manor is terrible. This historic structure adjacent to Hudson Park was destroyed by fire, a devastating end for an exceptional building beloved by many generations of New Rochelleans,” he posted in his blog. “I remember petting goats at Wildcliff on elementary school trips as a kid, attending performances as an adult, and working to rehabilitate the building as a Council Member and Mayor.

"And although a sustainable reuse of Wildcliff proved elusive in recent years, all of us were confident that the Manor would eventually be restored as a community asset. Now, this. A sad, sad day.”

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