Landmarks designates Fieldston Historic District

Planned 1909 Bronx suburb designated. At a January 10, 2006 Landmarks meeting, the Commission unanimously voted to designate the Fieldston community in the Bronx as a historic district. Fieldston is an example of an early twentieth-century planned community that evolved to incorporate modern design as well as Medieval, English, Tudor, Dutch, and Mediterranean architecture. Landmarks Chair Robert Tierney hailed the designation as part of the Commission’s “goal to designate landmarks and historic districts throughout the city,” especially outside of Manhattan. Commissioner Stephen Byrns stated that he had long supported the project as an important preservation for both the city and the nation.

The Fieldston district was originally conceived by developers in 1909 as “a private park devoted exclusively to country homes,” and was landscaped in the romantic style, featuring winding roads following the natural topography. The houses were built in an eclectic blend of styles, drawn from a list of approved architects, including Frank J. Forster and Julius Gregory. In the 1950s, Fieldston’s property owners’ association relaxed its guidelines, allowing a number of architecturally significant modern homes to be built. At the designation vote, Commissioner Joan Gerner pointed out that the city has few districts with single-family homes.

Many property owners in Fieldston opposed the landmarking, expressing concern that it would impede expansion of homes for growing Orthodox Jewish families in the community. Opponents also alleged that the designation did not follow customary processes for landmarking and blamed Council Member G. Oliver Koppell for his strong support of the action. Chair Tierney called the designation a “direct result of cooperation between the Commission and the community,” and promised to work on “specific guidelines for the district, like the Douglaston rules,” referring to another historic district in Queens. Community opposition, however, will likely continue as Landmarks seeks approval by the City Council.

LPC Item No. 1 (LP-2138), Fieldston Historic District (January 10, 2006).

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