My journeys take me back through New York State and I simply must stop to visit my great uncle’s old estate in Ossining. He, and all of his siblings, were inventors and David T. Abercrombie was no exception having founded Abercrombie & Fitch in 1892. This estate, named ELDA after his four children (Elizabeth, Lucy, David, Abbott) was built in 1925-6 by Portuguese stone masons, is five stories tall, sits on 52 acres with three lakes and was once a grandiose estate.
A closer look at the south side of the building. It’s massive! The walls are 3-4′ thick and reinforced with Abbott Steel. David’s wife was Lucy Abbott Cate of the Abbott Steel Company who built the turret on the Monitor and the steel trusses and compression ring on the US Capitol rotunda. They held patents on fireproof steel–which wouldn’t warp when heated. They knew their stuff.
This is the north side of the building with the curved entrance. It enters a foyer with the dining/kitchen on the left and living room on the right. A tea house was later added right behind the tree in the center of this photograph. The square tower housed guest bedrooms, a gunroom above, a cistern above which gravity fed the entire house. On top was an observation level where the NYC skyline could be seen, but only when crawling up a narrow catwalk out over the corbelled rim–seen here left center.
This is the same view today–the entire wing is gone. A faint roof line can be seen on the square tower. The newspaper accounts of the time attribute this destruction to a paint factory fire in 1944. But I question this account.
Here is the living room ca. 1930.
An identical perspective in 2010……
…..and today. Vandals have moved in and have simply trashed the place. Every window, gone.
The alcove in the living room.
A 2010 photo of the hinge details…..
…..today the doors have been ripped out and stripped of their hardware–here half a hinge survived for some unknown reason.
Today, the toilet and tub fixtures are gone. Who would steal a 1960s turquoise toilet?
2016–the far left panel chopped through the roof.
And on it goes. The future leaders of our country. Or more likely, the welfare kings & queens?
I think this was a kitchen.
This was a habitable living space only 6 years ago.
The gun-room–intact in 2010 has been stripped of doors and some of the intricately carved panels were crow-barred off the walls.
One parting photograph as I leave. Every window in the house is gone, every door removed, every appliance tipped and smashed. I walked on 2″ glass everywhere. In 2010 I gathered the local/county/state park folks together to try and preserve this property to no avail. Now 6 years later, it’s worse. I’m still trying to interest local governments in a park on these 52+ acres. I’ve also contacted the present day Abercrombie & Fitch–given their track record contrary to the original A & F mission–to kick in a few shillings–don’t you think?
Oh…..the missing wing of this building. In 1960 a physicist bought this estate and cleaned it up–a life-time mission of raising his two daughters here. He was a student of, and understudy to, Norman Ramsey, who won the Nobel Prize in physics for……the Manhattan Project. Now, it’s just a hunch, but could that forceful blast in 1944 on a secluded 52 acre estate, within a stone’s throw of Manhattan, that took out one wing of Abbott Steel, been related to the Manhattan Project? Stay tuned!