Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Judge Halts the Demolition of the Paul Rudolph House But It Sounds As If Considerable Damage Has Already Been Done

[Read 'Modern,' our new blog about mid-century modern houses, here.]

A judge temporarily stopped the demolition of the Paul Rudolph house (here are some references) in Westport yesterday but he declined a request by the Connecticut Trust of Historic Preservation to order that tarps be put up to keep the rain from pouring in through the parts of the house that its soon-to-be-owner has already destroyed. Another hearing will be held on January 2.

Both the Times and WestportNow have stories up. Yesterday I noted that the new owners, developer David Waldman and his wife, hadn't yet closed on the property. The Times today for the first time calls them the "prospective owners."

Obviously until you close on a property you don't own it. Why the Waldmans were allowed to begin demolition before they owned the house is a mystery. Here's an account of what went on yesterday from thepoint of view of an architect named Michael Glynn, who has been trying to build support for preservation of the house and has very vocal in his unhappiness over its potential loss:

I just got back from Stamford Superior Court. We had a hearing regarding the injunction; the … developer David Waldman and his four lawyers; myself, the State SHPO [State Historic Preservation Office], the director of the Connecticut Trust, the Chairman of the Westport Historic District Commission - and our one lawyer.

The developer came over and … I said it was not about him, it was about the house, he said "it's my house". … Yesterday morning the judge ruled that before he would issue an injunction, he wanted to have a hearing, and to that end our lawyer needed to notify Waldman.

[In the meantime, a work crew went to the house and began demolition, Glynn says. Nepal
Asatthawasi, the director of the Paul Rudolph Foundation, was there with a couple of photographers who taking pictures; they were ordered to leave.

While this was going on the Westport Town Hall was having their Christmas Party, so no one could be reached immediately. Finally the First Selectman, Town Attorney and the Chief of Police went down and stopped it .... Today a judge ruled for a continuation of the status quo until the next hearing regarding a stay on January 3rd; he asked Waldman to cover the roof, Waldman refused …. So presently we are trying to get the Fire Marshal to cover the roof - it is starting to rain: whether or not this is accomplished will be critical to whether we have a house to save. I am looking ahead to finding a buyer, several people have expressed interest, but it will be hard to sell a land-bound shipwreck.

[For more on the issue, see The Destruction of Paul Rudolph's Micheels House in the right hand column.]



Blogger Tamara said...

This is just awful. What philistines. I can't believe that they could begin demo work before the closing. Something sounds weird about this.

10:07 PM  

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