Two City Island Residences Designated as Individual Landmarks

The Booth House. Image Credit: LPC.

A late 19th century wood-framed Queen Anne style cottage and rare 1930 Sears Roebuck prefabricated bungalow both added to Landmarks portfolio. On November 28, 2017, Landmarks voted to designate two buildings on City Island in the Bronx as individual City landmarks. Both structures are single-family dwellings. The Samuel H. and Mary T. Booth House dates to the late 1800s, and stands at 30 Centre Street, and the 1930 Captain John H. Stafford House at 95 Pell Place. Both buildings were added to Landmarks’ calendar in 2011.

The buildings were identified by Landmarks in a survey of City Island. Another residence identified in the survey, the Schofield House, was designated in 2016 in Landmarks initiative to clear its backlog of calendared properties.

The Booth House is believed to have been constructed between 1887 and 1897, most likely by Samuel Booth, a carpenter, himself. The two-and-a-half-story Stick-Style Queen-Anne residence displays asymmetrical massing gabled roofs with deep eaves, wood clapboarding, and an entrance porch. It retains much of its original integrity, though two dormers, one bay window, and a rear porch have been added to the building. Landmarks Research Department noted that the Queen Anne style stood out among the predominantly Italianate and Second Empire houses of City Island.

The Stafford House was built John H. Stafford, a yacht captain for Marshall Field III, scion of the family behind Marshall Field’s department stores. The Craftsman-style bungalow is a rare intact example of a “catalogue house;” a prefabricated kit purchased from mail-order company Sears Roebuck. Sears Roebuck offered 447 designs, and the “the Osborn,” the model of the Stafford House, was among the more expensive and prestigious “Honor Bilt Homes” line. Sear Roebuck advertised that Craftsman style was an indigenous American style “from the golden west,” and the one-story house exemplifies the Craftsman aesthetic with its low, gross-gabled roofs, deep porches, Arts and Crafts-inspired details, and use of stucco, wood and brick. The building is little changed since its construction.

The Stafford House. Image Credit: LPC.

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that the Commission had received a letter from the Stafford House’s owner opposing designation.

Kim Vauss, the Commission’s Bronx representative, endorsed the designations as reminders of the borough’s rural and suburban history, and expressed surprise that a surviving Sears Roebuck house could be found in the area. Commissioner Michael Goldblum stated his hope that through working with Landmarks staff, the owner of the Stafford would learn of landmarking that “the burdens are few and the benefits are many.”  Goldblum further stated that the building demonstrated the architectural diversity of the Bronx and City Island, and noted that the Stafford House typology was unusual for New York City.

Commissioners voted unanimously to designate both items.

LPC: Samuel H. and Mary T. Booth House, 30 Centre Street, Bronx (LP-2488); Captain John H. Stafford House, 95 Pell Street, Bronx (LP-2479) (Nov. 28, 2017).

 By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law).

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