American Novelist James Fenimore Cooper Lived In The DeLancey House

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There is an effort in Mamaroneck to save an old house with a rich literary pedigree.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, George Washington was president in 1792 when the DeLancey House was built on a hill in Mamaroneck overlooking the Long Island Sound.

“This is national history, where James Fenimore Cooper was married and lived and his family,” Carol Akin with the Mamaroneck Historical Society said.

Before Cooper penned his classics like “The Last Of The Mohicans,” he wed Susan DeLancey and lived with her family at the home in 1811 and 1817.

“When he was living with the DeLanceys, John Peter and Elizabeth Floyd DeLancey, he heard great stories about what it was like to live through the American Revolution,” Cooper biographer and University of Connecticut professor Wayne Franklin told Adams.

Franklin said the budding author soaked in those anecdotes and made observations about nature, Native Americans and emancipated slaves.

“James Fenimore Cooper’s second novel, “The Spy,” set in Westchester, is the first important Revolutionary War historical novel by an American and Cooper drew on those stories,” said Franklin.

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The historical society is raising money to save the DeLancey House, which was moved to Boston Post Road more than a century ago. As a result, it cannot receive landmark status, Adams reported.

“We would dearly love to see someone step forth and say, ‘I love history and I love James Fenimore Cooper,'” Akin said. “It is historic and it would be a crime to see this destroyed.”

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

The white colonial with black trim is currently divided up into apartments and a restaurant. It is now up for sale.

Ed Chmelecki and his siblings own the historic house.

“None of us have any pensions so we’ve always looked at this as our retirement package and it’s a valuable piece of property,” Chmelecki told Adams. “We would love more to sell it someone who could preserve the property.”

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