Tricia Gregory, a seventh-generation member of the Lobdell family, said her father would have been thrilled to know the Lobdell house and Lobdell Store and Post Office are now designated historic landmarks in town.
The Town Board approved the historic landmark designation at a council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the urging of the town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).
“Unfortunately, (my father) passed away two years ago, but I have a letter he sent to Dick DeFrances when he was town historian … urging them to preserve the house and telling them some of the history. He would really be so excited that it’s come to this.”
Supervisor Warren Lucas thanked the Historic Preservation Commission for doing “a phenomenal job” putting together the application for the buildings, located at 270 and 274 Titicus Road and owned by the town.
“I don’t want the architecture screwed up by somebody,” Lucas said. “The designation will maintain the architecture.”
Both buildings are currently being used as office space, said Francis Tuoti, former chair of the HPC, so getting them this designation ensures the preservation of the historical architectural features of the building should renovation work need to be done.
“This commission recognizes that the buildings, currently in active use by the town, may require enlargement or external modification to continue serving the public in the future,” Tuoti wrote in the application. “We are sensitive to these issues and work diligently and rapidly with landmark owners to achieve the desired results.”
Gael Pantezzi and Susie Thompson of the Historic Preservation Commission submitted the following details about the town’s newest landmarks, which they call “the soul of Salem Center.”
At the Town Board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22, the board voted unanimously to designate Lobdell Store and Post Office (sometimes called “The Annex”) and Lobdell House. The first building currently houses the town’s Building Department, Zoning Board and Historic Preservation Commission office, and the latter houses the Planning Board, Assessor, Receiver of Taxes, Recreation Department and Town Historian.
The three buildings that comprise the town government campus are now a little historic district, including Delancey Hall (offices of the supervisor, director of finance and town clerk), which are a landmark and on the National Register.
The former store and post office is a Greek Revival-style wood frame and clapboard building erected before 1850 and features a temple front with four octagonal wood columns. The building has been moved twice, first from across the road when New York City took land for the reservoir, and second to improve public access for its use as a government building. Major renovations occurred in 1995-96 and in 2017.
Lobdell House was built by Albert J. Lobdell in 1883-84 for his bride Mary Louise Braden. This three-story Victorian house is in the Stick-Victorian style and includes sloped gables, cross gables and dormers with Kings Post trusses, deep bracketed overhangs, and wrap-around porches. There are twin brick chimneys and the double-hung windows are tall with two-over-two configuration.
The house was built a few hundred yards west of Delancey Hall and was moved to its present location in 1893 when New York City took more land for the reservoir. It has changed over time: all shutters have been removed, the front entrance that faced the road was moved to the west side of the house in the 1940s and a small room to the north side of the house was removed.
The Lobdells came from Hereford, England, and settled first in Milford and Ridgefield, Conn., then North Salem in the late 1700s. They leased land from Stephen Delancey in Cortlandt Manor (the western 3/4 of today’s North Salem) then began to purchase property beginning in 1773. They created homes and businesses here in Salem Center (called Delancey Town in the 1700s) and built farms on today’s June Road.
The Lobdells were the soul of Salem Center for more than 175 years. Beginning in 1815, Anson Lobdell, his son Anson Whitney Lobdell, and grandson, Albert Jenkins Lobdell, all lived in the house (today’s landmarked Uriah Wallace House) immediately west of Delancey Hall.
Anson Whitney Lobdell became postmaster in 1856 and ran the post office in the store. His wife, Mary Jenkins Lobdell, taught at the North Salem Academy (now Delancey Hall) where her father, John Jenkins, was principal. Town minutes show a record of many meetings in the store and in the hall on the second floor. Albert Jenkins Lobdell took over both the store and post office in 1880 and sold everything from food and spirits to candles and cloth. Albert held a number of town positions, including town clerk and supervisor 1915-1928. The store was a mecca for town business, news,
fun and camaraderie. Albert designed the house where he and Mary Louise raised six children. They called it Hickory Glen.
The store and post office were run by family members until the 1950s, when Postmistress Cornelia Lobdell retired. Lobdell descendants, Tricia Gregory and Reg White, live in the area and provided much of the historical information.
The new landmarks bring the town total to 33, plus two historic roads. The first 20 were celebrated in a booklet created by the Historic Preservation Commission in 2002. Now, HPC is working on the second edition to be published late spring. The text will be accompanied by stunning pen and ink drawings by Croton Falls artist Mike Bonelli and vintage photographs. This project was proposed and is sponsored by a generous landmark owner.