Skip to content

The Sad Saga of the Elijah Miller House

December 6, 2011

In the bowels of North White Plains, across from a giant cement factory and a stone’s throw from the Metro North switching station sits, abandoned, the Elijah Miller House, a farmhouse where George Washington slept and plotted strategy during the Battle of White Plains in 1776.

A good video clip put together by the town helps to understand the plight.

Peter Applebome of the The New York Times wrote about it on July 4, 2010, an article called A House with a Role in the Revolution is Left Unprotected. With the article, this accompanying photo of the home, then.

Photo Credit: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

Time has not been a friend to this landmark, and with no money to restore it and sitting on a street where no one can enjoy its past or visit it with ease, the future of it is scarily in jeopardy.

I went down there today on this gray and rainy day; chains across the driveway and barbed wire fencing made it even sadder to view. A giant tarp over the roof, leaving the entire home unprotected from the elements.





Roof of the smaller annex (unknown use)


Behind barbed wire and chain link


Across the street from a large cement plant


With Metro North in clear view


Side view, leaving

George is likely rolling over in his grave that this home sits to rot and fall in on itself. My first instinct is that it should be moved, one board at a time, and reconstructed on a safer and more visitor-friendly site that is also Washington related, like Mount Vernon. This is such a part of our American history and should be saved. I will do my part by helping the cause but I fear my small donation won’t do anything until such a time when an angel and history buff comes in and takes over the project with private funds.

About these ads
17 Comments
  1. Catherine permalink
    December 6, 2011 1:45 pm

    Extraordinary saga, so well told and photographed. Thank you (as always) for informing us of this.

  2. Mary permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:02 pm

    I’ve seen the inside of this house, maybe 15 years ago. I only hope the powers that be have removed all the contents and put it in safe storage.

    Excellent story and so important too.

  3. Cobra permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:04 pm

    That’s a crime! I understand that money is tight now days, but it’s truly unfortunate that no White Plains historical organization is willing to step up, hopefully with a bit of municipal assistance, to preserve such an important element in its/our history, as has been the case in Greenwich’s Putnam Cottage (http://www.putnamcottage.org/index.html ). Moving the Miller house and nearby out-buildings to a more “visitor friendly” location as part of the restoration program might generate a portion of the restoration and maintenance funds, as do voluntary donations to the volunteer members of the Putnam Hill Chapter DAR. I gladly forked out $20 when I took a short but very informative tour of Put’s cottage and grounds a couple of months ago.

  4. Jim P. permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:16 pm

    I’ve been out of town for a while but picked an interesting day to check back. Here’s my two cents:

    The Miller House needs to be in Bedford, or maybe on the grounds of the John Jay Homestead in Katonah, not the back side of North White Plains where it can be forgotten and few notice its slow but certain demise. The land it sits on has to be worthless so I see the project as getting some preservation architect and builder involved. Do you know anyone local who could start the ball rolling before the ball comes a knocking this place down?

  5. December 6, 2011 2:24 pm

    Cobra: We are lucky to live in a time when preservation is even a consideration. In the 1970s, this building might have been leveled. Bedford has a very powerful and deep-pocketed Historical Society but this home sits in North White Plains, a legal part of North Castle/Armonk.

    Jim P. made an excellent point that this house is out of sight, hence out of mind. I feel it is incumbent upon me to start doing something. I don’t know what yet, maybe tweet the heck out of this post to Martha Stewart or Donald Trump, who if he weren’t so busy being a quasi-politician, could write one check and have this thing moved it to his gorgeous Seven Springs property.

    There are any number of people who could help but it’s a matter of organizing it all. No simple chore.

    Thanks for the link to the Putnam Cottage. It is perfect in every way shape and form, from the windows to the floor boards. Good for you to help.

  6. December 6, 2011 2:24 pm

    Hi,
    How very sad to see a historic site be left to rot. You would think that with renovations back to it’s original self and advertising they could get back any money that would be spent fixing up the house. It is such a shame.

  7. Legal Eagle permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:26 pm

    Why couldn’t the Town be sued for willful abandonment? I think there’s a case to be made for this. If the house caves in or is destroyed from a winter snow, then we all say “I wish we had done more?”

  8. December 6, 2011 2:52 pm

    The building that is now Richard Gere’s Bedford Barn restaurant and Inn was owned by someone previously who the Town felt was INDEED willfully abandoning it. She wanted to develop the property and the building was left to be looted and rot. The Town began proceedings against her for willful abandonment but I believe Richard Gere and his wife came in to save the day. And we here are eternally grateful.

    I wonder how you sue a Town or a Federal Government for willful abandonment? If the Miller House is on the National Register of Historic Places, would I sue them?

  9. John permalink
    December 6, 2011 2:59 pm

    The Miller House is still listed in the database of the National Registry. I think a good palce to start is to call them to see what happens when a house is abandoned or left to rot.

    http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natregsearchresult.do?fullresult=true&recordid=99

  10. austin permalink
    December 6, 2011 4:56 pm

    call rob astorino, the county executive; he’s the lead for this project and should be updated as to the condition of this home.

    good piece. keep us informed please.

  11. Nancy McL. permalink
    December 6, 2011 5:24 pm

    Ditto what Cobra said. That’s a crime. I’ve taken the liberty of retweeting this post and added @westchesterCE, Rob Astorino’s office.

    Let’s see if he responds.

  12. Sound Beacher permalink
    December 6, 2011 6:30 pm

    This calls for an EOS tweet campaign. You are just the gal to do it. You should tweet the Mount Vernon people and I think you should reach out to the NYTimes reporter, he may have learned more since he wrote the story and have some insight. There must be a NY State Historical commission of some sort, they’d be a good contact in addition to those already mentioned. Maybe Richard and Cary would like it moved to their property? Just thinking…

  13. December 6, 2011 6:38 pm

    Lots of good ideas SB. I think I’ll sit and make a list of potential Tweetees before I hit the send button and I agree, the Times might like an update.

    The Donald might be interested. So too Martha Stewart. And yes, Richard and Cary. Onward.

  14. December 6, 2011 8:53 pm

    Okay: I’ve tweeted it out five times tonight. Anyone else out there who has a Twitter account who wants to retweet it, please do. Let’s see if this goes anywhere.

    NY Times author Peter Applebome @applebome
    Mount Vernon @VisitMtVernon
    This Old House @ThisOldHouse
    Martha Stewart @MarthaStewart
    Rob Astorino @westchesterCE

  15. December 7, 2011 1:35 am

    Great photos EOS.
    What a sad sad state of affairs that George Washington’s house would be allowed to fall into such a state of ruin.

    I love it that you’re not someone who sits on the fence and whines, but have already begun the campaign to save the house.

  16. December 7, 2011 2:59 am

    What John Nonna said:

    “It has been said that ‘a generation which ignores history has no past — and no future … Do we sacrifice our historical legacy to save a few dollars today? How shortsighted and disrespectful to those patriots to whom we owe our liberty and freedom.”

  17. CosHarbour permalink
    December 7, 2011 9:13 pm

    The windows/ “fenestration” are/is especially historic. Twelve over Eight!
    Colonial White Plains? GW was only nearby or there for 2 days!
    C, perhaps ya has re-rejuvenated The Battle of White Plains.
    Restoration might be construed with elements related to toxic/uninsurable/unmovable.
    That may be true, yet walking around dinky (no closets/one big hearth/7 foot ceilings)
    early homes in situate is often boring, yet an more authentic experience than the Met.
    I might soon pass by/shoot/+send you shots of another GW hdqtrs house…..

    For next Friday.
    Thanks!

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 350 other followers

%d bloggers like this: