The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is opposing the proposed demolition of an 1871 home on Franklin Street.
The blue Second Empire house at 66 Franklin St., also known as the Winans-Crippen house, has been vacant since 2006 and is gutted inside. Prominent “No Trespassing” signs are posted outside, and several windows are boarded up.
Owner Joseph Boff of Naples, Fla., wants to tear it down and build a new home in its place because he believes that it can’t be repaired, said Patrick Kane, chairman of the city’s Design Review Commission, which will hear Boff’s request to demolish the building at the DRC’s Wednesday evening meeting.
Preservation foundation members met Friday outside the house to drum up support for saving the building.
The house is a contributing building in the Franklin Square Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designed by a prominent local architect.
Its foundation is sound, said Douglas Kerr, preservation foundation president.
“The roof is in good condition,” he said.
An expert hired by the foundation, Donald Friedman, adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, deemed the building safe and repairable.
But Boff’s hired engineer determined that the building could not be reasonably repaired, Kane said.
Porch roofs appear to be sagging, and Kane said the inside was gutted before Boff bought the building, which removed most of the historically significant parts of the interior.
The foundation asked Boff to wait six months before seeking the demolition permit and offered to help him find ways to preserve the building, said preservation foundation executive director Samantha Bosshart.
The foundation applied for Federal Rehabilitation Act tax credits for the property from the state Historic Preservation Office and was approved, Bosshart said.
That means Boff could get a tax credit for funds he spends on fixing the building, Bosshart said.
She said the building could be turned into condominiums, offices or a single-family home.
“Buildings of this type in this kind of condition require creative thinking,” Bosshart said.
But she admitted that the foundation doesn’t know how much it would cost to fix up the building.
Whether to tear it down or save it is a tough issue to resolve, Kane said.
No one on the Design Review Commission wants to routinely tear down historic buildings, but sometimes that’s the most reasonable thing to do, he said.
“It’s hard to say to an applicant, ‘I don’t care what it costs. You’ve got to save it,’ ” he said.
Discussions about saving a building should happen before it is completely dilapidated, Kane said.
“If demolition is our only reasonable solution, we try to do it in a manner that maintains the historical elements of the building or at least the historical nature of the building,” he said.
After that, the DRC also would have a say in what Boff builds on the site.
Kane said Boff has indicated that he wants to live on the site and has no interest in developing it for condos.
Boff could not be reached for comment Friday.
If the Design Review Commission denies Boff’s request, he may appeal to the Zoning Board of Appeals with evidence that he has exhausted other options.
Boff bought the building in August for $240,000 from Lewis and Patricia Titterton.
The city has declared the full market value of the house to be $191,400, according to its assessment database.
The house was built for local merchant David Winans for $10,000 and later owned by George Crippen, owner of a dry goods business and women’s dress manufacturer.
It was designed by prominent Saratoga Springs architect John D. Stevens, whose firm also designed the former United States Hotel and Grand Central Hotel on Broadway.