Yorktown is a great place to live with safe family neighborhoods, extensive parklands and numerous shopping and dining opportunities all within minutes of each other.
However, its historic character is not being adequately protected and continues to disappear.
Many people think that little of historical importance occurred here in the past but the exact opposite is true. Yorktown has a rich history and its former inhabitants played an active and sometimes prominent role in the history of our country. With the gradual disappearance of the physical world they inhabited—the houses, barns, commercial buildings and pastoral landscapes – their stories and the unique character of Yorktown itself is fading away.
The latest loss was the over 200 -year old Knapp Homestead on Old Crompond Road that might have been preserved alongside the new retail structure going up at the site if more thought had gone into the planning process.
Living in an old house or on a farm is certainly not for everyone and no one wants to go back in time. But most people appreciate the visual charm of an historic structure or a beautiful landscape vista and the sense of place they provide. Perhaps because our lives are temporary, the sight of a structure built by hand that has survived through the centuries reassures us that some things we create will endure. A preserved landmark also reminds us more powerfully than mere photos or written records of those who lived here before us providing needed perspective as we ponder the challenges and opportunities of our own time.
It is also important to note that preservation provides an economic advantage to the community as a whole. People expect natural beauty and historic charm in northern Westchester and we should be protecting both so that Yorktown continues to be a desirable place to live and do business. Studies have indicated that houses within historic districts have higher values than comparable structures in undesignated neighborhoods and historic preservation spurs the growth of local businesses.
As we consider new development projects in our town, it’s time breathe new life into our town motto “Progress with Preservation”: it’s in our best interest both spiritually and financially.