YORKTOWN, N.Y. - In February 2016, the Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission unveiled its Homes of Historic Distinction initiative. The program was planned to identify and celebrate historic homes throughout Yorktown, and since its inception, has proved to be an unqualified success. Seventeen homes have applied for the distinction so far, and 14 are already featuring the distinctive green and white plaque acknowledging it as a historic Yorktown building.
Among those who first submitted applications were Huntersville residents Paul Szczepanski and Christopher Burkhardt, who purchased their home four years ago. Initially, the two had been looking for a house for Szczepanski’s parents, but both fell in love with what the Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission (YLPC) has now dubbed “The Verplanck Tenant Farm.” The property was originally part of the vast Van Cortlandt estate and bequeathed to Gertrude Van Cortlandt, the daughter of Stephanus Van Cortlandt, who married Philip Verplanck. One of the farm’s tenants was the physician and one-time Tory Loyalist Elias Quereau (1754-1842), who eventually purchased the house from Philip Verplanck Jr. and lived in it for many years.
After moving in, Burkhardt and Szczepanski both dove head first into uncovering the history of their new home. They discovered links to the Revolutionary War and even to Theodore Roosevelt, whose wife, Edith Kermit Carow, was a cousin of Elias Quereau.
Both Szczepanski and Burkhardt admit that neither was looking to acquire an old house, but are now invested in its history. Although they admit to a significant degree of old-house upkeep, both agree that the original part of their home, which is now over 300 years old, seems to be the most comfortable and least affected by weather or age. Since their move here, the home has been featured on an historic house tour and was the subject of a Yorktown Historical Society meeting.
Szczepanski and Burkhardt no longer think of themselves as the owners of “The Verplanck Tenant Farm,” but, rather, as its caretakers.
The Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission is always seeking applicants for the Homes of Historic Distinction Program. To qualify, homes must have historical significance based on age, architectural style, past ownership or association with a person or event important to Yorktown’s history. The program involves placing plaques designating the basic facts about each house’s history. YLPC will work with each homeowner on appropriate wording for the plaque and will assist in research. The cost for the application and the plaque is $100. Applications are available online at yorktownny.org/planning or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.