When I moved to New York, one of the first tasks I undertook was to create a catalogue of buildings to use as examples of styles for design guidelines I authored. This building, located at 200 Main Street in Ossining, NY caught my attention during my travels. It’s one of my favorites Beaux Arts buildings because of the way that it magnificently defines an entrance to the downtown of this small Westchester community. Readers can compare the recent photo of the building (above left) from one that I took in 1998 (below right). The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can learn more about the Ossining Downtown Historic District by clicking on this sentence.
According to the Village’s website, The building was built by one on the oldest banks in the community, which has continuously operated under various names since it organized in 1854. The building was built in 1908 in the Beaux Arts Style for the Sing Sing Savings Bank, which was renamed Ossining Bank of Savings when it reopened. The bank was expanded in 1949, but the most important public feature, the Beaux Arts entry, was maintained. In 1952, a clock manufactured by the Electric Time Company was installed in front of the building. Although it had several name changes, the bank continuously operated at this location until 1982, before it moved to another location in Ossining.
In 2005, needed repairs to the roof, façade and pedestal clock were undertaken with the help of a $150,000 grant from the National Park Service, and the Village announced its hope that the building would become a cultural arts center. Because of the inability to raise sufficient money for the support of an arts center, the building has remained vacant.
According to Ingrid Richards, the Manager of Downtown and Economic Development, The building has been vacant and under private ownership until it was donated to the Village by John Gouveia in 2004. Recently, there was interest in the private sector to restore and reoccupy the building. Three proposals were entertained by the board for adaptive reuse of the building, which had the potential of returning the building to the private sector; a brewery, a corporate office, and small event/business mall. After considerable public interest and controversy, the Village selected the office proposal as the best fit for the community. Unfortunately, this project did not come to fruition.
The Village Board has agreed to sell the building, provided that the buyer will agree to restore the building. A recent assessment puts the value of the building at about $190,000. A copy of the RFP can be downloaded below or can be on the Downtown and Economic Development website link, which also describes other economic programs available to business and building owners in the Village. The deadline for submission of the RFP is May 15, 2015.
It’s my sincerest wish that Ossining successfully attracts a buyer that wants to be a good steward of this wonderful old building. Older iconic buildings need special care and love, but in the end, it would be worth it. Because of the size of the building and its position on a 6100 square foot lot, adaptive reuse plans may require concessions of the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and building department to make any project a reality. Let’s hope that the Village reviewing boards and new owners come to terms that are agreeable to everyone and provide stability for this wonderful resource.