With the closure of the College of New Rochelle and the planned sale of its 15.6-acre campus, concerned citizens are scrambling to make protect Leland Castle and have it officially named as a city landmark.
The New Rochelle Preservation Committee, which includes local residents, neighbors of Leland Castle and alumnae of CNR are seeking the adoption of a City Ordinance that will grant local landmark status to the Castle.
“Preservation of the architecturally unique exteriors of the Castle and other buildings depends on action by the City Council, as a private owner is not obligated to maintain the appearance of a building in the absence of local landmark or historic district status,” the Committee said.
The Castle was built in 1859, originally as a summer home by a New York hotel entrepreneur, Simeon Leland, and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976 as well as on the New York State Register since 1980.
“For New Rochelle, the significant building relates many layers of the community’s history and how it became one of New York’s premier suburbs, including immigrant settlements, the “gilded age” and the 20th century ‘residential park’ era,” according to the Landmark application submitted by City Historian Barbara Davis.
“Today, Leland Castle is an impressive reminder of the Romantic Movement and the Gothic Revival style of architecture,” Davis noted. “For New Rochelle, the significant building relates many layers of the community’s history and how it became one of New York’s premier suburbs.”
The Local Landmarking Nomination of Leland Castle is expected to be heard at the Wednesday, Sept. 18 Historical and Landmarks Review Board meeting.
“Properties such as this rarely become available and offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to leverage an established, turnkey educational campus for a variety of uses,” Jeff Hubbard, Executive Managing Director of B6 Real Estate Advisors said about the campus. “There has been significant interest since the college first announced its closing and our team has created a structured sale process that will streamline the transaction for both the buyers and the college.”
In an effort to protect Leland Castle, a change.org petition was also started by concerned citizens, which garnered nearly 300 “signatures” in a few days. The Committee is also hopeful that the City Council will consider making other historical buildings official city landmarks.
“This is a critical first step of the City protecting this landmark, but more is needed. We are asking that the City approve and adopt legislation to protect Leland Castle as soon as possible.
“We also ask that the City lead efforts to provide the necessary State and/or Federal protection for the College of New Rochelle quad and additional historic buildings on the campus to allow local landmarking to follow. Buildings of historic significance include Chidwick, Maura, Holy Family Chapel, Brescia, and the Mother Irene Gill Memorial Library.”
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