Archive for the 'New Castle' Category

Project Update: Bedford Road 052010

Fivecat Studio Project Manager John Whalen forwarded me his latest photos of our current Bedford Road project. Take a look.

A Day Off with New Castle Historical Society

Peter Wing is an eccentric man. Forty years ago, he and his wife claimed the high corner of his father’s dairy farm and started building a home. Today… they’re still building.

Wing’s Castle, located in Millbrook, New York is a home like no other. With inspiration from local agriculture buildings and architectural references borrowed from Gothic churches, Asian pagodas, medieval castles and the free form Art Nouveau towers of Antonio Gaudi, Peter Wing has created, one stone at a time, an architectural masterpiece (if not only in his own mind) among the rolling  hills of Dutchess County.

This past Thursday, Annmarie and I joined the entire Fivecat Studio crew for a bus tour guided by the New Castle Historical Society. It was a great day of interesting people and inspiring places.

Following the tour of Wing’s Castle personally guided by Peter Wing himself, we headed to Charlotte’s restaurant for an early lunch and some relaxing sunbathing in their blooming flower garden.

Then back on the motor coach, and off to the global headquarters of Harney & Sons Master Tea Blenders for a tour of the factory floor personally guided by founder and CEO, John Harney. I wonder is Mr. Harney ever met Peter Wing. I think they’d hit it off. John is another very interesting character.

Half informative narrative, half sales pitch (being an entrepreneur myself, there’s a part of me that enjoyed the sales pitch more), the tour lead us through the tea blending bays, past the packing machines (they make Rube Goldberg’s contraptions look simple and straight forward) and between the tall mountains of labeled cartons ready for shipping around the world.

A quick trip around the corner, we ended the day at Harney’s & Sons’ tasting room and gift shop in Millerton. After a quick sip of fine tea (yum), we had free time for a leisurely stroll up the hill and through the village. Millerton may be a place we return to take in the antiques and artisan shops.

The ride home is always quiet, as we rest our eyes and enjoy the view through the bus windows. Joe the driver did a stellar job navigating the small country byways and muddy parking lots.

We appreciate the kindness of all the members on the trip. It was clear that most of the people on the tour were veterans of Historical Society events. Being “interlopers”, as the tour leader referred to us with a smile, our crew felt a bit out of place when we left Chappaqua early Thursday morning. By the end of the day, we made several new friends and felt welcomed by all.

The fall NCHS tour will be out to Oyster Bay and a visit to Sagamore Hill, home of Theodore Roosevelt.

We can’t wait!

Chappaqua Bridge Project Halted – NYS Owes Company $900K+


Conti of New York construction company has pulled its workers off the Route 120 bridge reconstruction project in the center of the hamlet in reaction to the state’s suspension of payment for transportation projects.

A company official, Patrick Hogan, told staff for Assemblyman Robert Castelli, R-Goldens Bridge, that the company feared not being paid in a timely way for its work.

Read more.

New Castle town supervisor Barbara Gerrard has issued a report of the issue. Check it out NOW on


Photograph by L. C. Anderson

Martin Stankiewicz Gallery on King Street

Martin Stankiewicz has opened a new art gallery in Chappaqua. Located at 142 King Street (about half-way up the hill), The Martin Stankiewicz Gallery features works inspired by nature.


The Martin Stankiewicz Gallery invites you to view its monthly exhibits by emerging and contemporary artists. Each month’s theme in some way expresses our appreciation of nature and raises awareness of environmental issues we face today. The gallery hosts fundraisers in partnership with local conservation and educational foundations. A portion of the gallery’s proceeds is donated to environmental charities.

Currently, the gallery is featuring the work Stetson Hundgen, Carol Lyons and Martin Stankiewicz in a mixed exhibit called Nepal – Visionary Images. Stetson and Martin together convey life in Nepal through their moving images from city to country. Carol, through her monotypes, using accidental blots to stimulate her imagination, takes us into her fantasy world of Landscapes.

Be sure to check out the recent article about Martin’s gallery published in Inside Chappaqua magazine this month.


I have always been fascinated with historic photos of places I know and love. Here is a very interesting photo of the bridge leading into downtown Chappaqua taken around 1930.

Notice the lack of trees? Well, if you are a New Castle resident or enjoy visiting the shops downtown, you’d better get used to this look. Construction for the new “improved” bridge is scheduled to start this fall and the first item on the list is to remove every tree adjacent to the crossing.

New Castle NOW has more information, including news on a protest being organized during this weekend’s New Castle Family Fun Day.

Castles of New Castle… and Pleasantville

Last week, Annmarie and I joined the whole Fivecat crew for the 6th Annual Castles of New Castle house tour organized by the New Castle Historic Society. It’s always a great show, but this year was even better.

In addition to several local historic homes, we enjoyed a walk through a 1960’s glass house inspired by Philip Johnson’s iconic glass house in New Canaan. White and black with glass walls from floor to ceiling, it was pure modern minimalism. Very cool.

As great as the glass house was, it did not compare to the Reisley House. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in in the early 1950’s, this Unsonian house was truly inspiring. Every view, every detail, every space was intentional. From the turned up roof on the carport welcoming you home, the small scale entry, the tall ceilings of the living room, the 6 foot high fireplace (with NO soot on the ceilings), to the visual and physical connection to the outdoors, it was just amazing.

How about a modern yankee gutter system hidden in the roof with no down spouts (see photo above – yes, they’re yankee gutters)? We all spent several minutes trying to figure out where Wright hid the drain pipes.

Last April, the New York Times published a great article about the Reisley House.

Look for a guided tour of Usonia in October. Mr. Reisley personally guides a tour of the famed Frank Lloyd Wright community each autumn.


Photo by Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times (no photos on the tour)

Route 120 Bridge: Please Think it Through Before Building

From a Letter to the Editor at written by Chuck Napoli, R.A.:

We must petition our New Castle elected officials to stop the department of transportation’s three-lane bridge replacement and associated highway extension for the reasons that the construction is neither in context nor compatible with the character of the Chappaqua Hamlet and is completely insensitive to the architectural history of the bridge being replaced.

How did we get from simple repair to bridge replacement?

The original bridge project of 2000 has changed dramatically from a simple repair and a type II state environmental quality review action of no substantial changes to something drastically different. The scope of the project we ask to be stopped has morphed into a massive construction, greatly exceeding the definition of minor highway rehabilitation. The bridge replacement component widens the Rt. 120 traveled road width to three travel lanes, two very wide shoulders, four foot high stone guard rails at the sidewalks and expansive concrete surfaces striped with required yellow or white painted caution markings and medians that split the surplus pavement and traffic into four travel lanes as they merge into the triangle intersection at South Greeley Avenue. Very different.

Read Chuck Napoli’s complete Letter to the Editor at He clearly explains who, what, why, when and how to stop a major mistake about to happen in the Chappaqua Hamlet.

In one thought… think, “Big 4-lane highway bridge meets small town hamlet.” Think it can’t happen? In fact, it already has. Read more.

History of Westchester

I received my copy of Westchester Magazine this week. It includes a great article on the history of Westchester, with tons of historic photos (like the image of the opening of the “new” Chappaqua Station below). I love historic photos of places I know. I love trying to identify buildings and landmarks that still exist today.

Tucked neatly in the middle of this issue is a ballot for Best of Westchester 2008. This year they’ve added the Best Architect category. If you subscribe to Westchester Magazine, we would be honored to receive your vote.

Viewing Chappaqua Through the Rails

When we drive past the duck pond and into town, my kids start to wiggle in their seats. They push their faces against the glass and eagerly await the point on the bridge where they may look out the windows and view, what looks like, all of Chappaqua through the open ironwork of the bridge’s guardrails.

If the bridge is rebuilt using the current DOT design, future generations of Chappaqua children (as well as adults) will miss out on the opportunity to experience Chappaqua through the open rails.

It is my hope that the Town Board and NYSDOT might reconsider the plans for the bridge, and that the historic character of the hamlet’s gateway might be preserved.

Chappaqua Bridge Petition

outlook.jpgChuck Napoli requested that I post a link to a petition sponsored by The Chappaqua Hamlet Partnership; a group of concerned New Castle residents, business district property owners and members of the Chappaqua merchant community. The petition is intended to allow the public to officially “make comment” on the current plans and future of the Chappaqua Bridge.

From Chuck:


We do have a voice; we will be given a chance to use it.

There is still time to complete the public comment requirement for the Bridge Project. Final DOT plans have not been completed nor have they been shown to the public.

By joining and passing on the online petition found at the link below, all our requests, comments and concerns will be delivered to the town officials on December 14, 2007.

Click the petition link to add your voice.

Please, add your comments regarding our Bridge, the civic property we all share, and choose how you want it to look and function.

From the petition:

We must ask the Town Official’s by the third week in December to STOP bidding The Department of Transportation’s three (3) lane highway and highway bridge that is neither in context nor compatible with the character of the Chappaqua Hamlet and misses badly to be sensitive to the architectural history of the bridge being replaced due to, but not limited to, a massive 264′ retaining wall, holding back tons of land fill and concrete pavement over the tree lined grassy hillside facing the station, for a right hand turning lane ending at Greeley Avenue. the highway and bridge structure is as long as 2 football fields and is enclosed with 4 feet high solid stone barrier walls that obliterate any view of our town from your car. This 2 part, Big Highway/Big Bridge, solution engineered to span over the Metro-North RR and Allen Place, aimed at the heart of the Hamlet, becomes a highway with extra wide shoulders resulting in wider concrete surfaces then striped with required yellow or white painted caution markings to split the surplus pavement into four travel lanes past the triangle.

Perhaps most important to our request to stop the bidding is the fact that this Big Highway/Big Bridge project fails to document any effective traffic flow solution at the triangle intersection or through the business district but instead further congests the heart of town with a fresh supply of vehicles into the already non-functional traffic problems of the hamlet. Concurrently yet totally independent, efforts dubbed “community place making”, concentrating on our shop-keepers needed Foot Traffic and the quality of pedestrian shopping and gathering places is working to provide a safe, intimate pedestrian experience at the very same locale, the entry to the heart of the shopping district and the gateway into our town, the triangle. It seems the two efforts are out of sync, each as far apart as can be; safe small town feel in one camp, the other, Big Highway and Big Bridge vehicle centered; two independent objectives when merged, become dysfunctional.

Action needed; our local elected officials need to intercede with NYSDOT to have alternate solutions considered with public participation.

Some unanswered questions.

1. How will traffic congestion be mitigated and what are the delay projections?

2. What is the updated cost of the Proposed Bridge Project including the extra Highway work needed for the Retaining Wall and at the Tri-angle Intersection?

3. What is the design and cost for Alternative 2: Bridge Rehabilitation that maintains two lanes of traffic at all times?

Ready to add your comments to the petition? Click here.

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