Reply To: Berrian/Johnson House on Spuyten Duyvil

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Peter Ostrander

The force behind the destruction of the Berrian-Johnson house was Robert Moses.  Moses had many hats two of which gave him the power to destroy the B-J house. He was the head of the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority and Parks Commissioner.  As I understand it his first effort was that the house was in the way for a reconfiguration of an exit from the Henry Hudson Parkway. The other was expanding of Henry Hudson Park. The Kingsbridge Historical Society under its President and founder, Rev.Dr. William Tieck, engaged Robert Moses in requests to save the Berrian-Johnson house and  protest. One request was to save the house and use for both Parks Dept use and as a museum for local history by the Kingsbridge Historical Society. It should be noted that the KHS was the only historical society in the Bronx as the Bronx County Historical Society was not founded until 1955.

The KHS’s effort failed and the building was destroyed in 1952.

This is not a unique decision by Robert Moses. When they were building the New England Thruway entrance from the Hutchinson River Parkway the original plans by Moses would have been  built directly through the location of the historic Split Rock. Eventually Robert Moses was pressured to change his plans and moved the Exit off the Hutchinson Pky to the New England Thruway. The exit was moved a few yards to the East leaving the Split Rock isolated on a  piece of land between a busy exit to the NE Thruway on the west and the Hutchinson River Parkway to the East making it had for anyone to find and visit the historic Glacial erratic and Native American site.

Regarding  copies  of the Riverdale Press early editions, the KHS has the early decades of the Press in  bound book copies but unfortunately with the pandemic the KHS archives are not accessible at this time.