LeVie/Hilton barn should remain standing where it was built

To the Editor:

The LeVie/Hilton Barn is an historic architectural icon within the town of New Scotland located on one of its most traveled roads, Route 85A. Farming dominated the landscape of New Scotland in 1898 when Joseph Hilton asked Frank Osterhout and a force of 160 others to construct this barn of unusually large size.

Even to this day, barns rarely compare to the size and construction methods incorporated in the assembly of New Scotland’s LeVie/Hilton Barn. There is no question that the barn is a piece of art built by skilled craftsmen who shaped our town.

I have been following the progression of the potential demise of this barn. Country Club Partners are the owners of the barn and kindly informed the town and the public of their intent to sell both the barn site and adjacent land to a developer who may build homes near the Colonie Country Club.

The Country Club Partners offered a timeline by which anyone wishing to raise the enormous amount of money could disassemble the barn and remove it from the site. Councilman Dan Mackay and other town leaders have nobly tried to find a solution to save the barn and I commend all involved for their honorable efforts.

I think that the building needs to remain standing on its original site. It does not destroy a potential intersection across 85A at Hilton Road.

I would like to hear that Country Club Partners offers the barn and some parking area for sale to someone other than a developer. The adjacent land could still be developed with homes — just preserve the site on which the barn stands.

If the developer already has claim to the site, consider these pleas for preservation directed at them. Offer the barn for sale to someone who wants to simply maintain the structure as a standing historical landmark, used or not.

Since the building was to be destroyed anyway, at substantial expense, the site could sell for the value of any open building site in that area. I’m sure the price of the barn site would be far less than the cost of moving and re-erecting such an enormous barn.

No one except the developers wanted to see it moved anyway! It is part of the New Scotland family, part of our roots.

When Country Club Partners bought the barn, they assumed ownership of a special place in history within the town of New Scotland

We who own historic sites in the town of New Scotland have an inherent responsibility to preserve the history of our town’s ancestors. We are the stewards and temporary caretakers of the architectural history and landmark sites within our community.

Especially when we obviously have the financial means to preserve our properties and opt to disregard the unnecessary greed that drives development to destroy historic sites, we must take pride in preserving our country’s landscapes, as other nations have done.

Ask yourself, “What are the attractive aspects of our town?” The LeVie/Hilton Barn is one of them.

I know some people reading this will say it is the property owners’ right to destroy what is theirs for financial gain and I understand this thought process. But when the property owner realizes their right to destroy an historic site don’t we all pass by that site in the future and proclaim, “What a shame, that memorable historic and beloved local monument to our existence is now gone."

The obvious answer to the question of what is the right thing to do concerning the future of the barn is for Country Club Partners to give someone the chance to buy just the barn, on a small site, for a reasonable and fair price, and to simply keep it standing for future townspeople to see.

I believe if Country Club Partners and their associates have the heart for it they can make it happen. Many other owners with less resources have found a way to save special places. We Americans must take pride in our historic landscape and structures. We must boast of our national heritage by preserving all that we can.

There is a finite number of historic sites, and too many fall to ruin and the desire for profit through property development. Things have to change, but we musn't destroy that which we should protect! Future generations of the people of New Scotland will mock us if this barn is torn down.

History will record who was responsible — Country Club Partners and their associates. Be remembered for what you helped protect, not destroy!

History has a good memory, especially in towns like ours, and people rejoice when good deeds are visited upon the community. How do you want your actions to be remembered?

Timothy J. Albright


Town of New Scotland

Editor’s note: Although Timothy J. Albright is the chairman of the New Scotland Historical Association’s Historic Sites Committee, he has written this as an individual, expressing his personal opinion.

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