Clarkstown Considers Historic Designation

Cropsey Home & barn hearing to be held Tuesday


The Cropsey Farmhouse in New City, built 1769
The Cropsey Farmhouse in New City, built 1769

The Clarkstown Town Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening (Oct. 20) on a proposal to designate the 250-year old Cropsey Home and Barn in New City as historic structures, and add them to the list of 32 other sites the town has already confirmed as protected properties.

The hearing is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. in the board meeting room on the second floor of Town Hall at 20 Maple Avenue in New City.

The recommendation to add the Cropsey buildings and land to the list has been made by the town’s Historic Review Board, and has been endorsed by James and Patricia Cropsey, lifelong residents of the property, as well as the Historical Society of Rockland County.

The Cropsey family has occupied the site since the late 19th century and has farmed the more than 50-acre property until a decade ago, when the most recent pair of Cropseys retired. At the time, they sold the farm stand and flower, fruit and vegetable retail operations on the west side of Little Tor Road to private firms, which continue operating those facilities today. The 24-acre plowed farmland across the street was sold jointly in 2006 to Clarkstown and Rockland County, to be preserved in perpetuity as open space farmland.

The Cropseys were given life right tenancies to continue living in their Dutch colonial farmhouse, where both remain to this day. Upon their passing, title to the entire site will rest with the town and county, which own 31 percent and 69 percent of it respectively.

The Cropsey Farmhouse in New City, built 1769
The Cropsey Farmhouse in New City, built 1769

Rather than see the land lay fallow as it had since the sale, the town and county signed a joint lease agreement three years ago with the Rockland Farm Alliance, which has used 23 of those acres for its non-profit community vegetable garden operation.

One of the first problems facing the town, county and Farm Alliance, if the property is designated historic, will be finding ways to shore up the sagging Dutch barn, which now has a distinct “tilt” apparently because of rotting framing and weakened joints.

Rockland County has hired Suffern engineer Brian Brooker to analyze the ailing barn and prepare an estimate on how it can be salvaged, and at what cost. Brooker has visited the barn and is reportedly still writing his final report, which is due any day at the offices of the Rockland County Parks Department, charged with overseeing the county’s majority ownership of the farm.

Once the report is received and reviewed by all of the interested parties, it is anticipated they will come to an agreement on how to fund that restoration. With the Cropseys both in good health although in their 80’s, it appears it may be a while before the municipalities have to worry about the future of the house.

The author of this is a member of the town’s Historic Review Board

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