Westchester County has embarked on a $5 million project to restore the 13,000-square-foot Wightman Mansion in the Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers.
The county-owned preserve at 19 Dudley St. covers 40 acres and is adjacent to the Old Croton Aqueduct. The mansion sits opposite the end of Executive Boulevard at North Broadway. Near the mansion is an area that has been set aside a memorial to those who lost their lives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Wightman Mansion dates from the mid-1800s with wings and expansions added in the early 1900s. Granite quarried from the site was used in constructing the mansion.
The county’s new capital project includes restoration of windows, doors, roof, gutters and soffits. Chimneys and stone façade will receive repointing and upgrades to the HVAC system will be made. Among the interior damage is paint and plaster deterioration caused by roof leaks.
Among the mansion’s features are a stone fireplace emulating one in a French chateau, mahogany paneling, ceiling frescoes and Tiffany-leaded-glass.
The mansion was donated to the county in 1965.
During a news conference announcing that the restoration project was getting underway, County Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor said, “It will get what we refer to as an ‘enveloping.’ It’s fixing the entire outside, including the roof.”
County DPW Commissioner Hugh Greechan said, “In working with the Parks Department, we recognized that we couldn’t wait for the normal capital projects process to move on, to go out to bid, so we immediately put $300,000 in this almost two years ago to the day for temporary roof repair. The water was pouring through the roof and it was freezing up in the winter (and) there was no heating system. We had no choice but to do something immediately so we sealed up the roof and we also undertook an asbestos abatement program.”
Greechan said that bids for completing the work were firmed up in May, and that the restoration program will begin in a couple of weeks.
County Legislator Ruth Walter said, “When this came before the Board of Legislators we were very happy to vote for it unanimously. We want these things to be preserved. It takes dollars, it takes expertise and it takes commitment to continue to bring these examples of public wealth to the public.”
County Executive George Latimer said, “Whether you live in Yonkers or you don’t live in Yonkers, this is not about one particular building in one place. This is symbolic of neglect that has occurred for decades in this county, where valuable assets have been ignored from the (Tarrytown) lighthouse to Playland to a host of other things. We intend to honor our grandparent’s legacy; we intend to honor our great-grandparent’s legacy. We will bring this building and the others back to life. They will have a new productive use in the years to come.”