The Saddest House In New York City

This is the story of a little house in Queens that broke my heart.

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A few years ago, I was working on a movie that sent me to Richmond Hill, Queens, to find a beautiful, one-of-a-kind house.  If you’ve never visited, Richmond Hill has a number of gorgeous turn-of-the-century Victorians…

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…and in fact, chances are you’ve seen at least one or two Richmond Hill houses before in a film or TV show. Productions are always in the neighborhood for this rare look that’s tough to find:

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For this particular film, we were looking for something a bit smaller, and it didn’t take long before I stumbled on this gem, built in 1905.

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The exterior was gorgeous, and looked to be in pristine condition…

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…and I especially loved the two upper floors, with their wonderful ornamentation and two oval windows. It turned out the house was for sale, and I quickly made an appointment for a tour.

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As we were walking around the interior, I was equally impressed by the quality and personal touch in each room. It was clear that whoever used to live here cherished this house.

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Out of curiosity, I asked what the house’s background was, and was told that its former owner, Nancy Cataldi, a local preservationist, had recently passed away. And suddenly, it all made sense.

Nancy was a major advocate for historical preservation in Richmond Hill, and had worked tirelessly to preserve the neighborhood she called home. She served as the president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society for nearly a decade, and is a major reason why so much beauty can still be found in Richmond Hill today. In fact, the street we were on was given the co-name “Nancy Cataldi Way” following her death.

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As we were walking around looking at what remained of her possessions, I suddenly got a very sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Nancy was gone, but her soul was all around us – in the worn floorboards, the antique furniture, the intricate wallpaper…But it was like I could feel that soul fading.

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Ultimately, we didn’t film in the house due to rewrites moving the characters into a Manhattan apartment. Still, I never forgot the place, and when I was asked to find a house a few weeks ago, I immediately headed out to Richmond Hill to see if it might still be an option.

But as I drove by, something was wrong…

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Maybe I didn’t have the correct address? I pulled over and double-checked my notes.

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And then I realized:

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I was at the right address.

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Despite all her efforts and the endless amounts of preservation work she did in Richmond Hill, Nancy was never able to get her own street protected; the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected her proposal in 2001.

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According to this 2010 Daily News article, the new homeowners claim they were forced to renovate due to an invasion of carpenter ants.

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You know what? Words are kind of failing me, so I’ll just let my pictures speak for themselves.

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We ALL benefit from people like Nancy Cataldi long after they pass, and while it’s cute to name streets after preservationists, it’s a lot more important to carry on their legacy. Hopefully, this is a reminder of that.

Rest in peace, Nancy.

-SCOUT

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239 comments

  1. Just FYI folks, they have these newfangled things called “Real Estate Listings,” and generally when someone is going to sell a house, they list it as being for sale. Keep an eye out for when these houses go on sale, buy them, and then you can keep them as they are. If it’s not your house, it’s not your business whether someone keeps a house so that it fits *your* aesthetic.

    • It’s not about complaining about their aesthetic choice. It’s about a disregard for history and the need for preservation. It’s the fact that despite time, the house looked amazing and was part of the history of Richmond Hill. Now, it looks immediately dated and like it belongs in any 1995-McMansion-type neighborhood.

    • Kimberly what a jerk thing to say. The WHOLE point of the post is that there are folks who appreciate the history of the neighborhood AND the aesthetic. It’s sad to see such a gracious home turned into some Staten Island side-show Fedders-special. Yes, the person who owns it can do ANYTHING they like to it, just as some numbskull chippy can dress her grandmother up in a mini-skirt and purple lipstick because it’s the STYLE, but that doesn’t make it right. History, respect and preservation. And yes, I DID react to your post with emotions. Too bad. The new look is an eye-sore.

    • While I despise Any kind of Govt. regulation, and I agree that the homeowner has the right to the style he prefers, I do believe this type of house is historic, and is disappearing. I do believe in some sort of preservation, perhaps relegated to certain neighborhoods. Otherwise Cape May would look like Seaside Heights or Wildwood. (which in turn looks like South Philly chic.)

    • Kimberly, it is precisely that kind of attitude that created the term “ugly American.” Gluttonous Americans who go and buy up whatever they can with no regard for the past or the future. These homeowners who destroyed this home did it with the attitude that they “own” it and so they can do whatever they please with it. Let’s remember that we do not actually “own” anything permanently. A beautiful, historic home can long outlive many generations of people. The people living in these homes are borrowing them temporarily until their time comes to an end. Thankfully there are educated and caring people out there who do appreciate history and maintaining and preserving it for the future. Without them I shudder to think of what the future would hold.

      • Rudy, maybe Victorian style doesn’t appeal to everyone. Move on from the cave dude. Evolve.

        • If a Victorian isn’t your style, then you shouldn’t move into one. Move into something that looks like the 3 condo units you turned history into.

        • Yes that is correct, but if you don’t like Victorian then why not buy something else instead of desecrating that once beautiful structure and turn it into some tacky, “Italian Palace” abortion. My God did you also notice that they cemented over all that greenery to make a parking lot for their cars? How sad that these people can destroy so much and yet have others defend them, like old Kimberly here, who obviously has the same bad taste. I Know very well what that type of design is all about. Just go into any neighborhood in Statin Island, bay side or so many neighborhoods is Brooklyn and see what these people have done to these once grand homes. Placing fake brick and flourishes over everything. Yet these tasteless Neanderthals think what they are doing to these homes is just beautiful. They love to come into these neighborhoods and destroy what was once a beautiful house. This is called having money and no taste what’s so ever.

      • My exact sentiments, you nailed it.

        What a jerk thing to say Kimberly.

    • Kimberly…it is attitudes just like yours that will be the ruin of these beautifil old structures.

      As to the folks who raped this home of it’s beauty: May the spirit of Nancy Cataldi haunt you for the rest of your days….in YOUR ugly home.

    • BungalowMo- you don’t really believe in ghosts do you?

    • Kimberly, exactly, all these people on this site should pool together their money and save Victorian homes. Other people would rather put their money into something a little more meaningful.

    • Impressively stupid comment. Good job.

    • Kimberly, there’s this thing called, “an eyesore”.

    • Kimberly… you’re a cunt.

    • hahahaha that new house totally looks like shit…aesthetics my ass

  2. But it’s hideous.

  3. This screams “bad Italian contractor” to me. And I’m Italian. It’s so sad. At least in my historic neighborhood in Boston, owners can’t do this even as they gut the insides of their Victorians, rip out the detail, knock down the walls so the living room, kitchen, and dining room are one big, messy space, and otherwise turn the interior into a sorry mess. Those balusters… that porch…. driveway… EAGLES!

  4. Everyone knows carpenter ants are allergic to gaudiness.

  5. that is most obscene remodel I have ever seen in my life……I mean that’s right up there with houses who install astro-tuf.

  6. Oh, I could just cry….that is the saddest house ever! I’m so glad we can’t see the interior.

  7. Oh.yes! We have seen “money but no taste” on this one!

  8. It literally hurts the eyes to see what these people did. What a shame to see a beautiful example of classic design made to look like a house in a cheap sitcom.

  9. Oh my my my! we have hideous houses like this in Australia with that exact brick.those houses are about 30 years old (or more). they are italian style. old people live in them and stand out the front hosing their concrete driveways,with very little garden. if the last owner was still around i can bet she would be crying. soooooo sad! horrible.

  10. I don’t make it a habit of posting comments on blogs, but I have to this time. It should be against the law to take something so beautiful and turn it that aberration. If the house was infected, it could have restored, not destroyed. Maybe there should have been a condition on that sale, a promise to keep as it was.

  11. Robert Hoadley

    I am not reconsidering my stand on capitol punishment…… Just sickning.

  12. What movie was this for? Is it out yet?

  13. No accounting for taste!

  14. Appreciate your sharing this and your willingness to take the photos and blog about it. What a shame. Some of my neighbors – in our protected historic district in Georgia, removed all of the heart pine from a house because of beetle bug damage. Put in 1995 floors. Thankfully, you cannot see it as you drive by, but why didn’t they just buy a new house, if they wanted new floors? We have a little beetle bug damage to our heart pine floors – but that gives our 165 year old home a little more character!
    -Trish

  15. I wish they had stayed with the original style of the house, too. But, truly…that porch roof just looks like a mouth about to gobble up anyone who dares come onto the porch. Who considers that “welcoming”???

  16. This is exactly what has happened to most of Bay Ridge. …and it continues all over the city. When will we preserve more architectural heritage in this city apart from the “brownstone belt”. I LOVE brownstones, but NYC has so much more, and we need to designate these as historic districts. So sad.

  17. Very sad indeed. Well that’s capitalism for you. But why did the new owners buy an old gem if they don’t appreciate old gems? Clueless buffoons.

    I find it particularly awful that the jaunty period attic window is gone and replaced by a sash window that doesn’t even fit, this is just vandalism.

  18. Wow… Why did they buy it in the first place? They could have built this model home from new on a vacant lot[?] or used a more contemporary home to dismantle and create that thing. What do neighbors think of all the cement and lack of foliage and honestly it belongs in Irvine in Orange Co., CA – and would fit into that area “nicely” – no jabs intended, its just it would. But not in an area known for historic homes – too bad she couldn’t have left it to a conservatory or something – it would take a lot to return it to what it once was – or I should say a newer version of that. yeah – everyone has different taste or in my opinion the complete lack of culture and history. Another example of what my cousin called “Urban REmoval” during the 1970s – this time I se more of this in areas that are losing footing with older historic neighborhoods. Out here we have [SoCal] new developments with restrictions Home Owner Fees, etc. – so why can’t local goverment form a similar organization like Historical Markers/Designations to protect the integrity of these old homes.?? Did the Housewives of Jersey City move into the neighborhood?! God help you…

    • Hey-historic preservation is alive and well in Jersey City. This sad butchery couldn’t have happened in JC. Italian contractors also do restoration, FYI–and even Snooki and JWOWW rented an historic building for their stay here. All recent immigrants bring an aesthetic with them and apply it for good and for ill. It’s how NYC has always been, and it’s why we appreciate old buildings-because they’re rare.

  19. I lived in Richmond Hill during my early childhood for about 9 yrs. I have wonderful and very special memories of my home and RH. It is a shame that some one did that to such a gorgeous and turn of the century house. I believe in preservation. We are losing our history little by little and fewer and fewer people seem to care. She was a special lady and I am sure her memory and works do live on. Bless you for bringing this to our attention. RIP Nancy.
    I hope others have stepped into the place you left vacant and carry on your cause.

  20. What a horrible shame. The windows, barely visible above that peaked front porch roof, look like haunted eyes. And all the beautiful trees, shrubbery, and other plantings, gone! I don’t understand people wanting such stark landscaping. Seems there would have been a better way to get of the ants than raping the house.

  21. This was an absolutely beautiful house. I was getting excited reading this thinking if this house is still for sale I would considor this house seriously. Then I saw what happened to it. It’s too bad the new owners have such really bad taste. It’s downright ugly now. What a shame. This should be a crime against this house.

  22. Oh my goodness gracious. So so so sad. The neighbors must hate the new owners! It would be ghastly to live opposite. I absolutely loved the house as it was with the pretty blue woodwork..so charming.
    There is no accounting for taste (or lack thereof).

  23. Although I’m sure this “renovation” meets with the new family’s lifestyle, having this home lose its original charm and grace would be more in the lines of a “bastardization” to me than a “renovation”.

    I’m going to paraphrase something I heard someone else say “If you want to start “renovating” a house to be something it didn’t start out to be architecturally, then maybe you need to look for a different house.”

    Bottom line: There are some things, like the house in this article, that are meant to “stay the same”. Preservation NOT renovation!

  24. The kindest thing would be to demolish the house and to take away home ownership privileges (a life sentence.)

    Why people buy old houses only to scrub every atom of old out of the place, injecting them with plastic fillers and botox and acres of concrete and vinyl fence and the cheapest possible extruded gutters. Their budget exhausted by these improvements, they are probably saving up to replace every blade of grass with blinding white gravel and cherry red mulch around the plastic poodle topiaries sure to come.

  25. No words……;(

  26. its just 2 different styles. don’t understand how sad this could be

  27. I find that restoration projects should be like plastic surgery. You don’t change the entire face/body, you should be freshening up and fixing poorly designed areas (like a nose). This house obviously had a soul and a certain design style.
    If the new homeowners needed to update and remodel due to some needed work, then they owed it to themselves, the neighborhood and that house to get a quality architect in there to help guide them on how to update but still maintain the quality of the house.
    This remodel is not only a disservice to the home and neighborhood, it’s simply poorly designed.

  28. I am all for historic preservation. However I have a different slant on what seems to be everyone’s opinions. I do not blame the new owners at all.They bought a house in a historic neighborhood; but what were the stipulations of Ms Cataldi’s will? She could have saved her house by putting it in her will. Also why didn’t the remaining members of the historical society push on the city to make this home offically “Historical”? It does not take that long if you know the right people. Were there ever any City Councel Meetings about the preservation of this property? These meetings are open to the PUBLIC. How many of you that live there did one thing to move that this home be made a historical home?

    Why weren’t there any stipulations in the Real Estate Contract?

    The current residents bought the house leagally without any conditions in the real estate sale. Therefor they have every right to remodel as they see fit.

    I live in a historial small city that is filled with street upon street of beautiful Victorians and original Arts & Crafts Homes all in pristine condition. In some of the neigborhoods there are a few “new builds” that match the estetics of the neighborhood. Last but not least I live in a very nice neighborhood in a ranch style mid century modern which suites me as I prefer a one story home and the mid century style. I also love all of the Queen Annes I see everyday; but I am glad I do not have to pay for the maintenence of these beloved “Ladies”

    My point is I feel most of you are pointing your fingers and wagging your tongues at the wrong people. All the new owners did was buy a home and remodel it. They did not break the law.
    Something to consider as you drag these people through the coals.

  29. I don’t care about the regulations or historic preservation rules or your explanation about protecting the new owners and what their rights are……the bottom line is we had a really cool, wonderful home ruined by new owners. It looks like crap…..bad brick, gaudy extensions….cement over grass……just bad taste. Boo hoo is definitely not enough said. Yikes…..look what they did!!!!????

  30. What a shame. If there were invasive ants I could understand doing repairs but surely they could be done in a way that is sensitive to the history of the house. Still once a house passes into another’s ownwership, it is theirs to do as they please. One reasone why heritage listing of historically important buildings (even domestic ones) is a good idea!

  31. An abomination to the home and to history. Do you suppose they thought the gaudy eagles would scare away any future carpenter ants? For the record, they used the ants as a poor excuse . I’m from New Orleans and thank god we have strick preservation laws in our historic districts. We suffer from swarms of termites every year but we know how to prevent them from eating our homes. And we know how to repair any damage they cause without stripping away history and architecture to do it. I don’t see how any of that was necessary to deal with the carpenter ants in New York. I truly hope Nancy doesn’t know. It would break her heart. It does mine.

  32. Ha! That front porch DOES look like an evil face now! Eek! :/

  33. That has to be the saddest house in the world and not just New York.

  34. That is foul!

    It’s harder than it’s ever been to get historic districts declared, at least in my part of the country. Sad and sort of surprised to see in happening in New York also.

  35. Well I’m going to dive right into this one:

    The house was beautiful. It had soul, it was loved. It was a historic treasure and has been around a lot longer than you or I. Yes, I agree that individuals should be able to express themselves any darn way they please and I don’t believe in conforming to societal standards. (I’m a go-against-the grain type of gal, afterall.)

    HOWEVER, I do strongly believe in my heart of hearts that this house was wronged, and hey, houses have feelings too!

    In my humble opinion, this home was denied its inalienable right to peacefully exist. A long-standing historic item like this – which has seen two Worlds Wars, The Great Depression and countless other episodes of history should have some rights of its own that supercede the individual rights of a Homo sapien whose subjective tastes and whims vary like puffs of fleeting smoke.

    You can read my whole opinion at: http://www.house-crazy.com/the-great-debate-a-houses-rights-vs-individual-owners-rights/

    Great post Scout!!!

  36. Gail Alexander

    Just because a house is old, does not make it historic. I think the main structure of this house is intact, icluding many moldings. A porch and the finish on this house is the only change. It looks taken care of now. I like the changes.

  37. As I scrolled down, I kept saying “oh, no. oh, no. oh, no!”
    It makes me so sad to see the “subdivision-ization” of older homes.
    Thanks for the reminder of the importance to protect these gems.
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  38. If you want a new house than buy a new house. Dont buy a historicly beautiful home and turn it into a new house. I hate seeing this all the time. The only good thing I can say is at least they didnt tear it down and build a McMansion. Im afraid to think of what they did to the inside.

  39. Hideousness with a capital “H”.

  40. I always wonder why people choose a beautiful neighborhood for the character then destroy a part of what appealed to begin with. Yes, why not buy a new house — might have been cheaper than creating that architectural abortion. Likewise for those folks who move into leafy burgs like mine then cut down all the trees. There are plenty of already treeless neighborhoods out there to choose from. They should head straight to those when they want to move.

  41. This is probably something you already know, but I thought I’d pass it along as a proud Staten Islander. We have a neighborhood that has several houses like this. In fact, the Staten Island Advance just recently did a piece on it. It’s called Hamilton Park. It sits on a hill overlooking the Kill Van Kull over by Sailor’s Snug Harbor and is just a gorgeous place. It’s also right next to a neighborhood called Randall Manor that has many beautiful homes (keep an eye peeled at the corner of Henderson and Bard Avenues. There is a house there that has a stream running through the front yard. The rumor is the stream is generated by a crack in the Silver Lake reservoir). Also always worth checking out is St. Mark’s Place that runs along a ridgeline right above the Ferry with panoramic views of the harbor. St. Mark’s Place is pretty much lined with Queen Anne’s. They all look directly out over the harbor no less.

    http://www.silive.com/homegarden/index.ssf/2012/06/discover_hamilton_park.html

    Hope we see you filming around Staten Island soon!

  42. This house would be a strange looking house even if there was nothing wonderful, beautiful and historic to compare it to. The new owners have an interesting taste, to say the least! I bet their yard is 15 degrees hotter in the summer because of all of the concrete they added and vegetation they removed. You’d need sunglasses just to walk around the premises! Think of all of the money that could have been spent on restoring the old house that instead went into a house that no one will miss, ever! Kind of harsh but seriously, I don’t know how else to put it!

  43. “Nancy was gone, but her soul was all around us – in the worn floorboards, the antique furniture, the intricate wallpaper…”

    While I hope Nancy rests in peace, I hope she can also still somehow walk across those worn floorboards — VERY loudly, at all hours of the day and night, and with the most terrifying effect.

  44. that’s disgusting what they did to the house. they should be ashamed!!!

  45. This is beyond devastating. I hope the ghost of Awesome Nancy haunts their terrible life choice forever. And a hawk? Really? I mean, how profound of an effect could Ladyhawk have had on you, you foolish family? AAAHHCKKK!!!!!! (Or is it an eagle? I can’t tell. I’m too distressed to be ornithologically sound.)

  46. so very, very sad.

  47. Depsite and “need to renovate”. There was no need to kill the charm of the house and remove all ornamentation and detail that made this house special. It looks like the new owers needed an excuse to add a bunch of cheap, tacky, decorations to the front and remove the historical look of the house. They also apparently hate privacy becuase they removed all of the mature landscaping in the back that was blocking the view of the neighbors. People like this do not deserve to be able to buy historic properties, they should just buy new houses in neighborhoods where everything looks the same.

  48. Very shameful what was done to this beautiful home. I live in New Orleans with many neighborhoods of beautiful homes like this. However, im glad we have the Historic District Landmark Commision and the Preservation Resource Commission ready with arsenal to take care of anyone thinking they could inflict such disgrace to such a beauty.

  49. It’s heartbreaking especially when you can be sure the folks who bought it had the $$$ but not the knowledge or interest in restoring it. I fault the Realtors who sold it to the first bag of money that showed up without regard for the rest of the neighborhood. I’m sure this stands out like a sore thumb among the other preserved homes around it. We have the same problem in Floral Park/Glen Oaks/Bellerose where little country homes are being re-faced with ridiculous amounts of brick, concrete and steel fences. The trees, grass and greenery are gone as well.

    • Although I agree with your disappointment over this extremely awful “reno”, I must speak up in defense of the Realtor you’re quick to point blame at. Realtors have little control over who purchases a property. It’s up to the discretion of the homeowner, in this case, likely an executor of the estate to decide who’s “bag of money” they choose to accept as they pass ownership of the decedent’s property. Furthermore, I doubt these tasteless homeowners were flashing their reno plans when they signed the purchase contract, or else, I hope that anyone with sense would reject their offer.

  50. Judith in Alameda CA

    Here we call that a misguided improvement. This is one of the most disgusting examples though! So sad to see this beautifully detailed late ictorian era home smothered with fake brick. And then to replace the original entryway with those posts. Ugh!

  51. Why the brick siding? Even if they couldn’t afford to replace the original wood clapboards, why didn’t they go with a good vinyl etc. siding that would help to keep the look of the house? I just realized the new front porch blocks off part of the view of the wonderful oval windows up above. Why? Why not keep the roof line the same (with modern drainage etc.)as before. I really wonder if they only bought the house because it was selling for a bargain price.

  52. Let this be a lesson to us all. You must protect your home. There are evil developers out there and homeowners that have no sense of design or respect for history. If you are unable to protect your home with a Historic Preservation Easement, you can have an attorney draw one up.

    But if I were a neighbor to this remuddled home, I would put signs on my lawn condemning the new neighbor. If I have to suffer looking at it, let them suffer too!

  53. I grew up in Richmond Hill and even though I haven’t been back for over 20 years now, I know exactly where the third house down is. I used to pass it walking to the bus every day for two solid years. What a shame about Nancy’s house. Words fail me too, but I feel a need to vent. You can see the new owners keep it in immaculate condition, but that doesn’t equate to charm and certainly can’t compare. I didn’t appreciate the gorgeous Queen Annes throughout Richmond Hill while I was growing up and now it’s too late for some of them.

  54. Ugh,
    Reminds me of the greek father’s house in the movie ” My big fat greek wedding.”

  55. Let this be a lesson to us all. You must protect your home. There are evil developers out there and homeowners that have no sense of design or respect for history. If you are unable to protect your home with a Historic Preservation Easement, you can have an attorney draw one up.

    But if I were a neighbor to this remuddled home, I would put signs on my lawn condemning this act. If I have to suffer looking at it, let them suffer too!

  56. opps – sorry for the double post

  57. That is just so sad… I cannot believe what happened to that poor house. Horrible, just horrible

  58. This is sad – and so familiar. I, too, grew up in an historic part of Queens, NY. It was a neighborhood of beautiful 1930s Tudors, until recently. The homeowners association put up a good fight, but they could not get the neighborhood landmark status. So down came the Tudors and up went the yellow-bricked monstrosities (complete with concrete parking pads and stainless steel fencing) and out went the neighborhood charm and pride. It’s a shame when money meets a lack of taste and when greedy contractors (with no knowledge of architectural history) are allowed to run amok. But yes, let’s blame the carpenter ants.

    Bravo New York – the city that can ban a super-sized soda, but not protect it’s own history.

  59. Ugly 6 family tenaments in Ridgewood Queens were granted landmark status by the city but beautiful victorian homes in Richmond Hill arent? The nuts are running the nuthouse.

  60. Oh, that makes my heart hurt. We’re in the process of restoring a historic (as opposed to just OLD) house that was part of the Underground RR. It’s taking more time & $$ than initially expected, but when finished it will look as when it was built in 1851–a plantation style home near Baton Rouge, where Emily Proffit-Morgan’s family had lived. Anyone interested in our project can visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MorganManorBedandBreakfast &/or visit in person someday!

  61. One typo in the previous posts seemed especially appropriate to describe the abomination of Nancy’s home: “Icktorian” Maybe we can get that word added to Webster’s dictionary. ;-)

  62. Money can’t buy good taste!

  63. Just so you all know folks, the people who remodeled this house obviously love it. They own it, they pay the taxes. Not everyone, probably most, do not have Victorian taste. Italians, Indians, the Greeks whoever you want to decide owns the house, one thing remains, it is NOT YOUR HOUSE! I like how people blame capitalism. Darn right! When I buy and pay for a house, I like it to be what I WANT. I will not be clearing it with a bunch of people living in the past. Move on and find something better to worry about like preserving our earth.

  64. But it wasn’t just a house though, it was a piece of living history for everyone to enjoy, especially in the future.

  65. While I can appreciate that everyone has their own personal style, why did the new owners have to project their style onto THIS house? It was a house with an already established set of design particulars that worked spectacularly well for its style. It makes me want to say, “Pick on a house your own style.”

    So sad. :-(

  66. You can’t buy taste, as this abomination clearly demonstrates. Yes, of course they have the right to destroy the classical house they own. They also have the right to wear gaudy clothing and talk like the idiots in Jersey Shore. It’s America, we have all kinds of embarrassing characters.

    But it’s not because they’re Italians, because they are not. Maybe their grandparents came from Italy, but whatever class or elegance they once had was flushed down the drain and into Raritan Bay. Real Italians, as in Italians from actual Italy, would have instantly recognized a beauty instantly.

    Simply put, they are Staten Islanders, and that says it all. Besides, they probably have a few friends in “the construction business” and the cement fell off a truck.

    Fugetaboutit yo! It’s Staten Island!

  67. This is exactly what happened to my grandmother’s house. Her house was the same vintage, and I admit that my grandparents had “remuddled” it in the 50′s when it had to be moved for the building of the New England Thruway. However, they were clever enough to keep all the original details inside by doing things like sealing up the solid mahogany sliding doors into the walls, etc. The new owners gutted it, turned it into 3 apartments – even ripped out the grand two story staircase with leaded glass window and flipped it to the other side so they could get more floor space on the second floor. The outside is a travesty worse than the one you have shown – I can’t even describe it. I now take the long way around the area so I don’t go by it. I wanted to buy it myself but didn’t have the money. So goes it and I have my memories and pictures.

  68. W
    T
    F
    That is one of the most horrifying “remodels” I have ever seen.

  69. are the owners insane? what the hell happened to the old beautiful character and charm of that home? idiots like them did not have to buy the home. why can’t they make a law that if you move into an old home esp these turn of the century victorian, craftsman styles, then you cannot change it in any way and colors have to be of equisite taste to match the setting. we will never see this beautiful house again. worst is more and more idiots have no appreciation for aesthetics and charm and so they are taking advantage of these beautiful old homes and they are destroying it without a care in the world. and by the way i don’t believe it was due to carpenter ants!!!!! that is no reason to tear down important parts of the house. now the house looks stupid. what happened to form follows function? those people don’t deserve to have a home! perhaps there will be a bad luck karma following the bad deed they have done which is spitting on nancy cataldi and disrespecting her important wish as a preservationist which i highly respect. i spit on those people and all of them alike!!!

    angry as hell,
    stacey

  70. Yes the fact that this happens with other peoples money then the ‘owners’ being used is no joke. Many of the homes that lenders have lost there shirts on where subject to gut renovations and purchase as if new only to lose three fourths of the loaned value in a few years.

    So yes the homeowners can do wrong- they can with sloth and lazyness run up bills destroying not just priceless value but hundreds of thousands of dollar of collateral ‘securing’ there mortgage, and then walk, and we end up bailing out the lender with nothing to liquidate of any substance left.

    So it’s not about ‘owners’ rights at all- not always, and as mentioned not often enough the pollution and wasted energy is everyones business when plent yof vacant lots or homes too far goneto be restored exist to ‘play’ with.

  71. That house was gorgeous, and it now looks like what happens when a Victorian house mates with a Fedders box.

  72. What confuses me is why she didn’t landmark her home? Individual landmarks are possible and would have offered at least some protection to the house.

  73. You just don’t appreciate modern Italian design ;-) But seriously, it’s an abomination compared to what was there. However, in 50 years, people will look back fondly on the current house when its owners then tear it down and start from the ground up. New York doesn’t respect history — never has, never will.

  74. Ironically, NOW it looks like it belongs on a studio lot….

  75. The last time I made a comment about Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill as a great location (on an art project blog)the next thing I knew men in black three was on my corner (literally) filming.

    I wish I could get the Landmarks Preservation Committee to stand up and notice. Richmond Hill’s character is worth preserving before it’s gone. The Richmond Hill Historical Society, based in Richmond Hill, Queens, representing the mere residents of this community, is utterly ignored. Maybe the film industry wouldn’t be. Will someone in the film industry back up Community Board 9 and help us get some protection? (by the way, there are streets outside of the proposed landmark district worth preserving as well!)

  76. Wanda in Edmonton

    Ken said exactly what I was thinking. It reminded me of the ornamentation around the house in “Mt Big Fat Greek Wedding”. I used to live in the Bathurst Manor neighbourhood of Toronto. All the houses were 1960s era brick, most of them lovely, well kept homes. But a couple of blocks over, we had a renovated house that rivalled the house in that movie. Good taste does not come naturally to everyone. Renos gone bad can be glaring eyesores in a community. I got so that I couldn’t even bear to walk by that house and changed the route of my morning walk. I feel bad for the neighbors of such homeowners.

  77. What a shame. If the new owners did not like the house ,why buy it in the first place.I’am sure it was not the only house in the neighborhood for sale. But I’am pretty sure it was the only one of its impresive stature.

  78. Couldn’t they just simply preserve the outside ? The most I would have ever changed about that house is maybe the paint other wise that house is a masterpiece. It’s sad people don’t know houses in NYC exsist

  79. Look in Glen Ridge, NJ. It hangs on the Manhattan side of Montclair. It’s mostly in the National Preservation Registry. You will only find the BEFORE never the AFTER. Many shoots are done there.

  80. I gasped when I saw what had happened to this house…….. what a desecration of her memory & fight…. The owners are liars & obviously have no taste what so ever……. TACKY! Im gutted & kind of at odds with why Nancy did not take to preserving her house as a landmark?

  81. “Old buildings are not ours. They belong, partly to those who built them, and partly to the generations of mankind who are to follow us.
    The dead still have their right in them: That which they labored for … we have no right to obliterate.
    What we ourselves have built, we are at liberty to throw down. But what other men gave their strength, and wealth, and life to accomplish, their right over it does not pass away with their death…”

    John Ruskin 1849

  82. What a fucking tragedy. Tasteless fools with no respect for history and heritage destroying a beautiful property. Absolutely tragic.

  83. This is such a beautiful Neighborhood,I wish someone could just stop builders from destroying the character of the neighborhood.

  84. The ironic thing here is that in its day, I’m sure that house had its share of critics, but seeing it as a frozen historical artifact makes its garish, “wedding cake” appearance more endearing than degrading. Unfortunately, the new owners had to wreck that aesthetic truce with this all-to-colorful new infusion of bad taste. Also ironic is that this is no worse (actually a lot better) than the average vinyl-siding job houses like this get every day (the house behind it is a good, eh, I mean BAD example!), though such jobs call less attention to themselves. The brick veneer would actually be bearable if it weren’t for all the detail it obliterated, as would the second floor stucco (I hope it’s more than just foam, but it’s probably not) if it were a bit less busy. But the details here are full of devils: the stupid fake-palladian windows, corners of generic rectangular windows tucked under arched frames, trim that looks too much like cladding and the awkwardly-shallow pitched roof of the canopy. Hopefully, sometime in the future, some owner will at least attempt the tone down this ornamental circus and restore a little dignity to the place.

  85. Kimberly, out of the chute, has it right. I’ll add that the renovation could have been way worse and surmise that when the house was originally built, there were plenty of complainers about it’s “special” look. Government out of my bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room, porch, stoop…

  86. On the bright side, at least they just slapped some brick veneer on the sides instead of tearing it down. It can still be restored by a future owner.

  87. It IS Staten Island after all…it looks like a giant crypt. I would sell immediately if I lived next door to that monstrosity (and I can’t imagine the people who inhabit it – I would just want to slap them across the face every morning). I can’t imagine what the inside is like. It reminds me of what happened in Jamaica Estates to a lot of the lovely old tudors – it looks like a page out of the Saddam Hussein line of Persian McMansions. Total disaster. Sigh.

  88. Checking in again because yet another movie crew is in Richmond Hill filming this week…Just want to set the record straight, guys. Richmond Hill is in QUEENS NY. Not Staten Island. And yes, it still needs historic district and/or landmarks protection!

  89. This breaks my heart. I was friends with Nancy. She told me that she wanted her home to become the museum for Richmond Hill. I can not believe that her family let this happen when they knew she wanted her home to become a museum and to be preserved. She put many years of her life into this home and spent so much to restore it. She found original leather Victorian wallpaper for the home. She adorned it with most beautiful and unique antiques and pop art. It was gorgeous in that house. The energy was inviting and warm and cozy and homey. I promise you, if I come into significant money, I will buy this house back and restore it as closely as possible to its original glory and make sure it becomes the museum she wanted it to be. Historical homes like this should have protection like they get here in Canada. I have a difficult time believing that she never wrote any kind of will considering she worked at the cemetery in archives and was so invested in preservation and vocalized her dreams to me for how she wanted her ashes sprinkled where her mother’s ashes were spread on water in Italy. She died on this day in 2008 and so I always look online for things to share about her memory. I gave her gifts and she gave me gifts which are now special keepsakes but while this house was something material, there are still so many principles which were ignored in the name of greed. Why didn’t her family at least sell it on the stipulation that the buyer preserve the historical value??? That would have been the dignified and honourable thing to do here. Such a tragedy. I believe she is now an angel watching over me. And I also believe in karma. I miss Nancy and I can assure you, she would be livid at this shameful outcome. And for those who think it’s fine and a new owner can do what they want…. at least do it with taste. All sentiment aside, this new facade is hideous and I’m frightened to imagine how horrid the interior has become. I know they kicked the stained glass windows to the curb. No taste…

  90. I will add. I went for a walk with Nancy in her neighbourhood in ’07 and she was repulsed by this very style of nightmare architecture destroying homes in the neighbourhood like a creepy parasite. She loathed the statues and thick cheesy pillars and yucky gates, tacky steps, poorly thought facades… I can not believe that her house became what she despised and was fighting against. This is such a huge slap in the face to Nancy. It’s like the people who sold her home spat on her. WHY???????????

  91. I’m speechless! Why not just buy some new piece of shit instead of turning something nice into one? Obviously money can’t buy brains.

  92. And to follow up on my last comment. Burn it. Build a park instead. That wont lower peoples property values.

  93. Points & laughs at the eagles. I thought it was turned into a dentist’s office before I read it was a home. That porch is like a concrete eyesore. Good grief!

  94. This is typical of the taste level of this particular ethnic group that is moving into these old neighborhoods. But they are not alone, just ride up and down any block in Astoria Queens or Bay Side and see what these people has done to these old neighborhoods. This style of bad taste doesn’t belong exclusively to any particular ethnic group. It just seems that this kind of taste, just belongs to the newly found middle class, who move to these old neighborhoods and put in their style of what they think good taste is. Remember Elvis Presley “mansion” in Tennessee, that was an extravagant, over the top, gaudy palace, he so obviously thought was beautiful. It’s people from lower classes, that once they finally make it to a higher class, haven’t a clue to what good taste is. So they spend all their money on the cr-p they sell in all those “going out of business” store you see in mid town Manhattan. Gaudy, ostentatious. over the top opulence that the middle class thinks is what being rich is all about. Just look at all the cr-p in Michael Jacksons home, it looks like he bought out the contentment of one of these stores to decorate his never land range. Like they say….money doesn’t buy taste!

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