Hoffman House Owners Donate Preservation Easement to Conservancy

Photo by Patrick J. Mahoney

There is no stronger way to protect a historic property than with a preservation easement. This led Tom Tisch, longtime owner of the Hoffman House in Rye, New York, to investigate easements as he and his wife Alice prepared for the sale of their house in 2018. The Tisch family had meticulously maintained the Hoffman House since they bought it in 1992, and they wanted to protect that investment. They have generously opened the house to the Conservancy on several occasions, most recently for our 2017 conference.

Tom began discussion of an easement with the Conservancy in the spring of 2018. At the same time, he successfully sought out a preservation-minded buyer for his house, and proposed including an easement as a part of the purchase contract. New owners Marc Jacobs and Charly Defrancesco were completely supportive of the idea and donated an easement to the Conservancy after the purchase.

Thanks to the foresight of the Tisch family and the enthusiastic agreement of Jacobs and Defrancesco, the Hoffman House now has a preservation easement held by the Conservancy. The easement will protect it into the future, in case the property transfers to a less preservation-sensitive future owner.

At each transition of ownership, a Wright-designed building can face a period of uncertainty, depending on the plans of the new owner. At the Lockridge Medical Clinic in Whitefish, Montana, a perfectly viable building was demolished in January 2018 because the developer who bought the property had plans for the land that did not include the Wright-designed building. In Glencoe, Illinois, the Booth Cottage faces an uncertain future since new owners have applied for a demolition permit for this unprotected property. Even when a building is not demolished, it can be subject to significant alteration that may affect the integrity of the design.

The Conservancy urges all owners whose house is not already protected by an easement or a strong local landmark ordinance to consider ways to protect their house when they contemplate selling. Please contact John Waters, preservation programs manager, at 312-663-5500 or by email to learn more about property protection options.

Posted on June 19, 2019

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