Monsey Memories: The Rockland Landmark Demolished 60 Years Ago
BY Yitzy Fried
Last week we profiled Elisha Peck, a wealthy industrialist who pioneered Haverstraw upon a 36-acre property. Samsondale Avenue and Peck’s Pond, which remain in the area, are testaments to his presence in the area.
His beautiful mansion was built there in 1830, but by the 1940’s it had begun to deteriorate. In 1962—sixty years ago—this early landmark of Rockland County—with all its beautiful architecture and features—was finally taken down.
The Journal News, in the summer of 1962, writes: “Mansion built in 1830 slated for demolition. Rockland County’s modern-day land rush will soon swallow one of the county’s oldest landmarks, Elisha Peck’s Samosndale Mansion in West Haverstraw, built in 1830. Owners of the 36-acre estate, which is located off Route 9W and Railroad Avenue, yesterday announced plans to demolish the 14-room mansion and, in its place, construct a shopping center.
“Two of the owners, Gene Ellish and Shelley Goldstein, were watching four bulldozers clear another section of the estate when they indicated that the mansion would be torn down very shortly. Standing in the shadow of the 132-year-old building, the owners said a shopping center at the southern end of the estate would extend from Route 9W to the mansion. On the north end, plans call for the construction of 300 new row houses.
“The estate was sold in 1960 to Howard E. Ellish and Associates of Spring Valley, which planned to preserve the old mansion if economically feasible. On Wednesday night, Goldstein, when he submitted the plots for the houses to the village board, remarked that no use could be found for the mansion. At that meeting, the village board refused to permit its fire department to burn down the mansion as part of its training program or allow its fire chief to issue a fire permit for the owners to do so.
“The village board, which gave approval to the fire department to burn the caretaker’s house on the lower end of the estate, did not want to assume the responsibility of burning the mansion. Ellish said yesterday that if the building could not be burned down, heavy equipment would be brought in to demolish it.”
A different article described some of the features of the home: “The house was constructed of red sandstone and covered with stucco. Light tan or gray were popular colors for many large residences. It is not unlikely that the stucco finish on Samsondale was applied when it was built and was similar to that on many other fine homes of that day…
“Peck died in 1851 in his New York City home. His son, John, became the owner of a brickyard business, one of the many that flourished in Haverstraw area until after the turn of the century.”