Bronxville Historical Conservancy Presents 2019 Preservation Award to Olinda and John Simon For Restoration of Elm Rock Road Home Print

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Nancy Vittorini, Sarah Chapin, Olinda Simon, John Simon, Marilynn Hill

By Ellen de Saint Phalle, Member of the Board, Bronxville HIstorical Conservancy

Jan. 15, 2020:  More than 130 members and their guests attended the Bronxville Historical Conservancy’s Annual Meeting and Holiday Party on December 11 at the Bronxville Field Club. 

The evening’s celebration included recognition of the outgoing co-chair, Judy Foley, and board members Tom Welling, Nick Stephens, Jim Hudson, Stafford Meyer,and Jane Staunton.  It also included the welcoming of new board members Mark Wood, Rick Shearer, Bill Fredericks, Saskia Martin, Mike Heraty, and Maggie Marrone. 

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New Board Memebrs: Mark Wood, Mike Heraty, Saskia Martin, Maggie Marrone, Bill Fredericks and Rick Shearer  

Co-chair Bill Zambelli gave special thanks to the party’s organizers, Board members Lisa Rao and Judy Foley, before turning to the highlight of the evening: the presentation of the 2019 Preservation Award to Olinda and John Simon for the historic restoration of their Elm Rock Road home.

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Board Member Lisa Rao and outgoing Co-Chair Judy Foley 

Zambelli thanked his fellow Preservation Award Committee members Erin Saluti, Marilynn Hill, Corky Frost, and Maureen Hackett.  The committee received several impressive nominations for consideration. 

In her nomination of the Simon residence, Vicki Ford wrote, “The house represents a point in time in Bronxville village development when spacious large homes were surrounded by gardens…as a community it is important we recognize and demonstrate appreciation for extraordinary accomplishments in restoring historic property.”  Nancy Vittorini helped Ford create the portfolio for the project’s submission.

Erin Salutu presented the award to the Simons on behalf of her committee and the Conservancy echoing Ford’s remarks, “The residence stands as a paragon for architectural restoration within the village.” 

Saluti shared the home’s noteworthy history: Built in 1904, on the site of one of Bronxville’s early farms, this large stone and shingle Dutch Colonial was originally home to T. Channing Moore, who served as President of the village from 1916 -1919 and went on to serve as a NY State assemblyman for several terms. The Moores inhabited the home for 55 years, until it’s next residents, US Senator Charles Goodell and his wife Jean and family (including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell).

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Following the Goodells, the home was purchased by His Majesty King Hassan II of Morocco, who used the property as a dependency for the Pondfield Road residence of his daughter, Princess Lalla Meryem. 12 Elm Rock then became home to many members of the royal family and their staff.  In 1992, John and Olinda Simon purchased the home where they raised their family.

On August 2, 2016, the unthinkable occurred. A massive fire broke out in the master bedroom, destroying major portions of the Simons’ historic home. But rather than become discouraged, the Simons turned this disaster into an opportunity to restore the home as closely as possible to the original 1904 design.  Relying on the resources of the history center and the Conservancy, and employing a carefully selected team of professionals, over two-and-a-half years the Simons painstakingly restored what had been lost in the fire, as well as what had been changed in the years prior to their ownership. 

In the interior, the Simons reintroduced the original bedroom layout (the king had reconfigured these spaces into connecting suites to accommodate his nieces - who were attending Sarah Lawrence - and their live-in chaperones).  They reinstated the original large pocket doors in the keystone arched room entrances, reproduced the design details of the fireplace mantles, replicated the original oak floors with border, and rebuilt the balconied grand staircase - three times - before it was restored to satisfaction. 

On the exterior, the team reinstated the third-floor dormers as close to the original as today’s code would allow, and rebuilt a previously unknown rear dormer, that the fire revealed had originally existed. They removed a 1950’s bomb shelter, restored an original hitching post on the side of the veranda, and rejected the front entrance door design twice before finally accepting it as accurate. 

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Olinda and John accepted the award with thanks to the Conservancy and their project’s restoration team: Architects Michael Bolster, Dean Davis, and Roger Blaho; Contractor Paul Fontana, Cum Laude Group; and Interior Designer Sarah Chapin, Chapin Interiors. 

Commenting on their desire to restore the house, Olinda said, “Bronxville is a special place.  We are lucky to live in this village with so many talented and dedicated people who truly care about supporting and preserving Bronxville’s rich history and unique character.”

The Conservancy accepts nominations for the Preservation Award January 1 through November 30 each year.  Award categories include: Architectural Restoration; Conservation of Architectural Elements; Renovations and Additions; Garden and Landscape Design; Craftsmanship and Fine Art; Preservation of the Historical Record; and Stewardship and Advocacy.  Projects must be complete at the time of submission.  Self-nominations are welcome.

For more information about the Preservation Award and other programs and events sponsored by The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, please go to: bronxvillehistoricalconservancy.org  

Photos of home courtesy Bronxville Historical Conservancy

Other photos by Peter North


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