Saturday, April 5, 2008

Move the Sheffield Stables?

Date: Sat, 5 Apr 2008 08:51:09 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Anne Z. Whitman"
Subject: Fwd: Move the Sheffield Stables?
To: "Jordi Reyes Montblanc"

Note: forwarded message attached.

Anne Z. Whitman, President

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Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2008 08:50:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: "J Thomas"
Subject: Move the Sheffield Stables?

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Move the Sheffield Stables?

NEW YORK, NY—The owner of the historic Sheffield Farms Stable, a 100-year-old stable built for one of the largest dairy companies in the country, is threatened by Columbia University’s expansion in Manhattanville. The building’s owner has a unique solution: Move it out of the way.“Moving the building would let Columbia have the land and would let me keep on using the architecturally beautiful and historic building which I love,” said Anne Whitman. Ms. Whitman’s family has owned the building for 36 years and it currently houses her businesses, Hudson Moving & Storage, a company that specializes in handling fine furniture and art, and Hudson Fine Arts, Ltd., which organizes exhibits of work by undiscovered urban artists.

To have any chance of remaining on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, the building’s new location would need to be within the neighborhood and in proximity to Prentis Hall, the former Sheffield Farms pasteurization and bottling plant on 125th Street, according to the New York State Historic Preservation Office. The NY SHPO implements National Register standards in New York on behalf of the National Park Service. The agency does not recommend moving buildings out of their historic contexts, but looks upon the proposed move of the Sheffield Farms Stable as one way to mitigate against losing the building if no feasible alternative to demolition can be found.

The seven-story masonry structure would be among the tallest moved in this country. The 208-ft.Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, North Carolina, is taller and was successfully moved by the National Park Service in 2001.

Ms. Whitman has proposed several alternative sites in the area for relocating her building. First choice is the current site of a McDonald’s at 125th Street and Broadway. Ms. Whitman hopes that she can swap land with Columbia rather than sell and see her building demolished. Her property is one that may yet be taken by the Empire State Development Corporation using the power of eminent domain. It would then be turned over to Columbia for development.

Industrial archaeologist, Mary Habstritt, said, “The power of the state should not be used to destroy a building that the state itself has determined to be of national significance.” Sheffield Farms, formed in 1902 from several smaller dairy companies to deliver milk to New York City, became, by 1926, the largest dairy products company in the world. The company was a pioneer in pasteurization, installing the first pasteurizing machine in the country at one of its New Jersey dairies in 1892.

Michael D.D. White, an attorney and urban planner, called the threat of using eminent domain an example of, “New York style developer-initiated, developer-driven eminent domain abuse.” This government power was intended to be exercised only to take property for public use, such as subways and parks. In recent years, it has repeatedly been abused to take property for private development, including corporate headquarters, shopping malls, and now a private university campus.

3229 Broadway was purchased in 1972 by Joseph A. Zuhusky, father of Anne Whitman, and it has been owner-occupied for 36 years. Hudson Moving & Storage is a certified Woman Business Enterprise—100% woman owned. The company’s workforce is 100% women or minority and union-affiliated. Whitman has developed it into a specialty firm providing services to architects, designers, artists, and manufacturers in the design trades. It provides worldwide transport for art and other high-value products and proximity to clients in the city is vital. The location in Manhattanville provides access to major thoroughfares that allow company trucks to reach any borough location in roughly 15 minutes.

The 1903 Sheffield Farms Stable was expanded in 1909 to house the horses and wagons of New York City’s largest dairy company at a time when most milk was delivered to customers’ homes. It is a uniquely beautiful stable linked to the history of providing a pure milk supply to New York City in the days before refrigeration when farms were increasingly further away from the growing urban center. The stable is half of a pair that includes today’s Prentis Hall, built as a Sheffield Farms pasteurization and bottling plant in 1909 and owned by Columbia University since 1949. For more on the Manhattanville’s role in supplying milk to New York City, see

The Manhattanville Preservation Alliance is a neighborhood-based organization that seeks to identify, document, and designate historic structures in west Harlem. Manhattanville is undergoing major changes that will dramatically change the face of the neighborhood for those who live, work, and own businesses here. Our aim is to ensure that vital connections to the past are retained, through the preservation, re-use, and rehabilitation of the historic buildings that define the character of our neighborhood.

Posted by Simeon Bankoff at 10:30 AM

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