NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -Preservationists have won a court battle over a house that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The abolitionist heroes who lived in the Hopper-Gibbons row house in Chelsea used the roof to escape the mob on the street, historian and neighbor Fern Luskin said.

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During the Draft Riots of 1863 all the rooftops were level then, she told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.

“Until this monstrosity erupted over it,” she said, referring to a fifth floor built on top of the building.

The building has sat empty while the battle of developer Tony Mamounas’ addition has gone on almost a decade.

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An appeals court recently ruled that the Landmark Preservation Commission has the final say. It hasn’t weighed in officially, but Luskin is hopeful Mamounas will have to tear the fifth story down.

“He probably figured we’re just sort of like a flea annoying him,” she said.

Silverman left a message at Mamounas’ office but has not heard back.

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