Fight Brewing In Ossining Over Crumbling Building With Historic Designation

OSSINING, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An old factory in Westchester County is attracting bored teenagers, interested developers and concerned historians.

At first glance, you can see its faded charm and the potential danger the crumbling 19th Century pill factory poses on the Hudson waterfront, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

The developers who own it started to take the structure down in April, but were stopped by the village of Ossining in a fight over a last-minute historic designation.

“It’s an old building,” said owner Peter Stolatis. “(Young: But you don’t think it’s historic?) I don’t think so.”

But the village’s mayor begs to differ.

“The Brandreth Pill Factory is an incredible piece of Ossining history,” said Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity.

Dr. Benjamin Brandreth made a popular laxative pill at the factory. It was a national sensation and a local economic engine, Young reported.

But for decades, the building has been a nighttime roost for bored teens. It was even the destination for an online “Project X” rave party three years ago, which was thwarted by police.

The developers hoped to rescue the place with an ambitious condo complex that didn’t get off the ground, so they began to demolish it instead.

Now, they say the recent death of a teen in an abandoned Staten Island hospital creates a new urgency.

“The similarities between Staten Island and our situation here were shocking,” said Stolatis.

Even in its half-demolished condition, the building continues to be a magnet for teenagers looking for a hang out.

The fence is a deterrent, but not impossible to go over or around.

The developers said they’re worried.

“We’ve gone to a judge in White Plains to try to get this stop work order lifted so my clients can clean up this property, make the property safe,” said attorney John Murtagh.

Even some historians believe the building’s chance to be preserved has come and gone.

“The state of that building is in now, would be extremely difficult to save it; even though it was part of my family’s history,” said Ossining Historic Society curator Norm MacDonald.

Part of the community’s history — and safety — are now in the hands of a judge.

The Brandreth Pill Factory opened in 1937 and last operated as a business in 1978.

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