Ancram’s Stiehle House comes tumbling down

An excavator works on demolition of the Stiehle House, August 5. Photo by Christopher White

ANCRAM—It’s the end of the road for the Stiehle House.

The circa early 1800s, pale yellowish, rundown structure at 2407 Route 82, met the wrecking ball, so to speak, Wednesday, August 5 after being condemned following a crash.

Joseph P. Martino, 27, of Ancram was the driver of a Subaru Forester traveling southbound on Route 82 when it failed to negotiate a turn at the County Route 7/State Route 82 intersection blinking light and plowed into the north side of the building’s west wall, continued through the building and exited through the south end of the east wall, one-story above grade. The house was situated very close to the road.

The driver and his two dogs were not injured.

Mr. Martino was charged with driving while intoxicated (two prior convictions in 10 years), aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, operation of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% (two priors), and use of a vehicle without an interlock device by State Police from Livingston, July 18 at 3:22 a.m.

Following the crash, Ancram Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Edward Ferratto enlisted an engineer to inspect the house.

The report from Taconic Engineering, DPC, said the vehicle “went through the siding eliminating [the] secondary framing member and lateral restraint… took out primary column supports… resulted in a lateral shift of the building.”

The loss of primary and secondary support members has caused the overstressing of remaining members and made the building “unsafe and in imminent danger of collapse constituting a clear threat to human life and safety,” the report said.

Mr. Ferratto said he condemned the building based on the report and informed Ancram Preservation Group (APG) President Christopher White that the build must be demolished as soon as possible. The APG owns the structure, which was under renovation at the time of the crash.

Mr. White told The Columbia Paper by email that in the past week the APG “sought opinions from engineers and have come to the belief that the building definitely could be saved.”

Despite that he noted that Mr. Ferratto “remains adamant that the building must be demolished.”

Though the APG is of a different opinion, Mr. White said, it is within Mr. Ferratto’s authority to force the demolition.

The APG had hoped to renovate the Stiehle House for eventual use by the Ancram Opera House as an office and housing for interns and artists.

This will be an irreparable loss for Ancram. With the Stiehle House gone, the hamlet will have no physical center. It is the first building seen on entering the hamlet from any direction. Its absence will be vividly apparent. It sits on an unlikely site and that is perhaps one of its most distinguishing characteristics and speaks volumes about the haphazard history that many of our small hamlets have. They possess an idiosyncrasy and intimacy that will never be duplicated and that is why it seemed so important to hold onto this structure,” Mr. White said by email.

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