The 1st Phase of the Odell House’s Museum Planning Process is Complete!


Floor Plan

Under the contract between the Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters and Amaze Design, the first phase of the museum planning process has been completed. The final layout shows the space usage within the house, including ADA accessibility to the first floor.

The plans are the result of a months-long collaborative effort between Scott Rabiet, principal designer of Amaze Design, the executive committee of the Friends and Steve Tilly Architects. Scott visited OHRH twice, took multiple measurements and held several Zoom sessions with us to discuss many options for the use of the rooms of OHRH. Since it is a very old building—expanded several times in the 18th and 19th-centuries—there are different floor levels, different ceiling heights and many structural issues to consider. We discussed several options for the newly reconstructed north addition, such as where the ADA-compliant bathroom, storage and a new exterior door would best be located. Considerations included details like the best layout of chairs for watching our introductory video and where to store those chairs so the room can be cleared for other uses.

The house will have eight rooms open to the public and some space will be flexible for special exhibits and events. Many options and ideas were discussed and modified during the meetings. A draft was sent to the entire OHRH board and to our Academic Advisory Committee for comments. Scott produced several versions of the plans before we agreed to this final layout. It has now been sent to Steve Tilly Architects to be incorporated into the architectural drawings for the final phase of the restoration. You can see the plans here.

While the last phase of the physical work is underway, the job of the Friends, the Academic Advisory committee and community stakeholders is to establish the goals and priorities of the museum. This 292-year-old building holds so many stories—from its first construction in 1732 to its role as the headquarters of General Rochambeau and the post-Revolution purchase by John Odell to the life in late 19th and early 20th century suburban Westchester to the present day. The remainder of this year will be spent working together planning how to best present the story of the house and the people who lived there.

Restoration Work Continues
During the past few weeks, the rotted exterior shingles of the house have been removed and temporary Tyvek sheathing installed. New, period-appropriate shingles will replace the Tyvek. The window frames are being repaired in preparation for the installation of new windows. The sill plates along the exterior walls are being replaced so that the temporary support structures inside the house can be removed. All the vertical beams are being sistered and will now meet the floor! The framing of the north addition will begin in the next few weeks.


Construction Odell


St. Paul’s Church Event Honoring Susan Seal
On May 11 OHRH president Susan Seal will be the honoree at a benefit event held at St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. (General Washington and General Rochambeau rode by the church in the fateful summer of 1781 as they surveyed various options to attack the British in New York City.) Susan is being honored for her work to save the OHRH from collapse and coordinating the many people and organizations working towards its restoration.

The event is sponsored by the Society of the National Shrine of the Bill of Rights, a non-profit organization that helps administer St. Paul’s through a co-operative agreement with the National Park Service. It is a fund raiser for the site as well.

Regular tickets will be $60, but for a donation of $100 you can be a member of the event Host Committee. This way you can register your support for the work of the Friends of OHRH and St. Paul’s, and receive special recognition on the event program and at the festivities on May 11 at 5 p.m.

Donations should be payable to: “St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site,” and mailed to St. Paul’s Church N.H.S., 897 S. Columbus Avenue, Mt. Vernon, NY 10550, attn: May benefit event.  Please submit your contribution by May 1.

New Research Information
Char Weigel, a member of the RW250 Management Committee, has been investigating the story of Gilbert and Sarah Bates, the second owners of Odell. While her research is ongoing, she has established that Gilbert was a loyalist who left Greenburgh around 1778 and that Sarah followed him to New York City. There will be more details forthcoming, but it is fascinating to know that the stories of Sarah being General Rochambeau’s hostess were likely fables. Instead, the house holds the story of the divided loyalties in Westchester when brothers fought brothers.

More Discoveries in the House
An old cardboard box recently found in the house included a cache of jewelry and a beaded patch that looks to be Native American. None of the jewelry has great monetary value, but it will add to the way we can talk about the people who lived in the house. And we definitely want to learn more about the beaded item. We continue to make exciting discoveries as we sift through the contents of so many centuries of life in the house. (We found something else yesterday but will save it for the next newsletter!)


Odell Treasurers

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