Last week I accompanied Kathleen Brennan, a Waterworks sales consultant, to Dobbs Ferry, NY. At the end of our visit to Steven Tilley Architects, she offered to show me a house that I would love and probably want to write about. It was the incredible Armour-Stiner House in Irvingington-on-Hudson, NY; an eight sided, domed, colonnaded house shaped like a Roman temple. It has all of those architectural attributes and it is painted pink as well!
It was built in the 1860′s by the amateur architect, Squire Fowler. He thought the octagonal shape enclosed more space and created rooms that received twice as much light as a conventional four sided house. In 1872 the house was purchased by the wealthy tea merchant Joseph Stiner who created the festive exterior embellishments with floral detailing in the cast iron rails and elaborately carved wood scroll work. He also painted it in shades of rose, blue, violet and red.
This is a house that has had a series of imaginative owners: a Finnish writer who lived with a female pirate and Carl Cramer, a celebrated author, poet and historian. After Cramer’s death the house was acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, but it was unstable and badly in need of expensive repair. It became one of the few houses sold out of the Trust to a private citizen named Joseph Pell Lombardi, a Preservation architect who has thankfully conserved the house. It is now part of the National Historic Landmark properties. Mr. Lombardi, an historical sleuth, has held the house together over a long period of time and continues as its able steward.
I must admit, I was a trespasser on the property, surreptitiously taking photographs with my phone when Joseph Lombardi’s son, Michael, caught me in the act. He graciously gave us a bit of history and did not chase us away. It is quite a property with beautiful distant views of the Hudson.