Like a solemn marker denoting a grave site, the sign posted on a short metal rail surrounding the lot at 66 Franklin St. tells of the historic manor that stood until its demolition last fall.
The black-and-white sign bears a likeness of the once-stately Winans-Crippen house designed by prominent local architect J.D. Stevens and built in 1871. The marker also includes a brief history of the structure owned by David Winans and then George Crippen.
The three-story building deemed to be a contributing part of Franklin Square-West Side Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places was “lost in November,” according to the sign. Absent from the short narrative, however, is the battle that raged on between city preservationists and property owner Joseph Boff over whether the derelict house was beyond repair.
The sign and short fence outlining the property were a condition the city imposed on Boff after granting him the approvals for demolition. But how long they will remain at the site will depend largely on how quickly he can sell the property.
Recently, Boff listed for sale the two 0.16 acre parcels that comprise 66 Franklin St. for $1.35 million each. The listing with Roohan Reality offers a 2,250-square-foot “custom dream home” for each parcel to be built by Bonacio Construction.
Plans for the property include building two three-bedroom homes adjacent to one another with a common driveway running between them. Drawings included with the listing show both homes with rear carriage houses.
Boff could not be reached for comment for this story.
Stevens, who was the architect for the United States Hotel, Grand Central Hotel and the Woodlawn Avenue row houses, designed the home for Winans, a local merchant. The property was later sold to Crippen, owner of a dry goods business and dress manufacturer. The home was in deteriorating condition when it was vacated in 2006. Boff bought the two properties for $240,000 in 2008 and then petitioned the city’s Design Review Commission to raze the building the following year.
The move sparked a battle with the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, which argued the home could be salvaged. In 2011, a state Supreme Court judge issued an injunction preventing the demolition without either approval of the Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission or a court order.
Boff initially put the property back on the market. The preservation foundation offered a $50,000 grant for anyone interested in preserving the building, but didn’t get any takers.
In 2012, Boff returned to the commission with an environmental impact statement estimating the 2009 cost of “reconstruction or replication” of the home at $1.6 million, excluding the purchase price of the property and any other amenities. The same study suggested the fair-market value of the renovated property would be “no more than $800,000.” Boff also claimed the home posed a public danger — an assertion apparently affirmed by several city officials. But an architect who reviewed the home in 2012 said its condition was no worse than when Boff first purchased it.
The commission ultimately ruled the structure was beyond repair, spurring the Preservation Foundation to secure another injunction. Then in October, the state Supreme Court Appellate Division upheld a lower court ruling that allowed the building to be demolished.