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Volunteers to Restore Somers' Historic Reynolds House

The Reynolds house is located inside the main entrance of the Angle Fly Preserve in Somers. Work on the house is expected to begin in the spring.

Somers volunteers will work to restore a historic house in town – the Reynolds House – located on the property of the Angle Fly Preserve, a 654-acre nature preserve in the heart of Somers. 

"The house in unique because of its history in the town," Volunteer Director of Operations for the Somers Land Trust Bob MacGregor told Patch. "The Somers Land Trust is doing the project as the stewards of the preserve."   

The 18th century home and the Angle Fly Preserve are part of the historic corridor known as the Mount Zion Historic Neighborhood. The home was given to Stephanus Van Courtland by King William III in 1697. The homestead was a parcel of about 73 acres of farmland and was one of five original homesteads on the west side of Primrose Street in 1776. 

The current building can be traced back to 1803. The property was purchased in 1828 by Silas Reynolds, the son of James Reynolds who fought in the Revolutionary War and is buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery. Silas and his wife lived in the homestead until 1878 when the property was sold.

The rebuild project will begin in the spring of 2013 and it is scheduled to be completed in 2015. 

As a result, a two-bedroom, 1,700 square foot, rental residence will be created. The town of Somers plans to rent the home to a town employee, MacGregor said.

Volunteers plan to reuse the existing house as possible.

The chestnut frame will be saved and the exterior shake siding will be stripped and repainted to the original white stain. The front door and framing will be preserved along with the interior molding and random size pine board flooring. The chimney, fireplaces and foundation will be fixed. The original bathtub will be repaired and reused. A new roof and new windows will be added. New interior framing and sheetrock will be used and a new electrical, plumbing and heating system will in installed. New interior stairs will be built and new kitchen and bathroom fixtures will be installed. The house will have a new septic system and well that will meet building code. 

The Reynolds House rebuild will be done with the help of community volunteers, and part of the cost will be covered by contractor volunteer time, donated materials, fundraising and grants. Since the house is owned by the town of Somers, the town will provide some funding to remediate and removal the mold and lead paint and certify that the house is safe for volunteers and contractors.

One of the volunteers is Michael Piccirrillo, a Shrub Oak resident, who has volunteered his time as an architect.  

"We had over 400 volunteers involved in the trail building so I am confident that we will be able to get 1,000 community volunteers for the Reynolds Farm Area Restoration and the Reynolds House Rebuild,"  MacGregor said. "These two projects will require all types of different skills from hands on building or gardening to project management and fundraising." 

The Somers Land Trust, a non profit organization, has been designated to develop the Angle Fly Preserve property as a conservation and recreation area. The organization has already completed 10 miles of hiking trails on the property and is now restoring the Reynolds Farm area.

The Reynolds House is part of a larger restoration project on the property, that includes rebuilding the poultry barn and terrace, the yellow barn as a conservation learning center, the creation of the Mickey Oliver Native Habitat Restoration Area, the riparian stream buffer restoration and the native meadow restoration. 

To help raise money for the Reynolds House project, the Somers Land Trust will hold a fundraiser on April 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gerard Crane House, a stone house dating to the mid-19th century that was built by an early circus entrepreneur. To read more about the fundraiser, click here.

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