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Fire Destroys Sentimental Dobbs Ferry Structure

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April 4, 2024

By Sue Treiman—

When Dobbs Ferry’s Gould Park House went up in flames Saturday, it was just the latest challenge for a beloved, but beleaguered, local site.

The March 30 blaze significantly damaged the building that serves as a fieldhouse for the eight-acre park. No cause has yet been found. The fire was confined to the building, sparing homes and businesses located within yards of the structure.

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“I was there in about three minutes and the first fire engine arrived in about four or five minutes to find a heavy smoke condition with flames visible from the second floor of the building,” said Dobbs Ferry Assistant Fire Chief Joseph Giuliano.

More than 55 firefighters from Dobbs Ferry and surrounding municipalities answered the call. They extinguished the fire within two hours.

“This is a sad loss of village history,” Giuliano said.

Historic Park

The house was the only structure on the property, which had been gifted to Dobbs Ferry by a descendent of one of the 19th Century’s most notorious ‘robber barons.’ Located roughly a half-mile north of the village business district, Gould is home to local sports teams, the village pool, and numerous events and activities, some of which have been temporarily sidelined by ongoing remediations and updates at the park.

“Access to the park, because of all the construction, could have been a major problem,” said Retired New York Fire Department Captain Frank Farrington, a 50-year member of the Dobbs Ferry Fire Department, a former village trustee, and a lifelong village resident.

Farrington, who lives within a few yards of the park, said he saw numerous fire trucks maneuver around obstacles to reach the Gould Park House. Firefighters also quickly secured potentially hazardous pool chemical stored in the building, and confirmed that the flames did not threaten paints and painting supplies stockpiled at a nearby business.

Ongoing Construction

Current Gould Park construction projects include a staircase repair and rebuild, a basketball court upgrade, the revamp of a playground, and largescale an ongoing water and drainage mitigation program. Beacon Hill, one of the highest points in the town, tends to divert water into the park and pool areas.

The Park House will remain off limits for the foreseeable future and engineers determine the extent of damage. Constructed in the 1930s, the building provides storage space for sports equipment, restroom facilities, and was briefly used as a residence for the park superintendent.

Since the 1950s, the Gould Park house has functioned as a warehouse and restroom facility for park and pool users. Otherwise, according to Farrington, it’s been largely forgotten.

“It was not in good condition before this fire began,” he said.

Despite that, its demise is bittersweet for many long-term residents.

“Everybody who grew up here knows that building,” said Madeline Byrne, president of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, “and they’ve shared memories online about the meetings they went to, the equipment they used, and the birthday parties all the kids had there.”

Nevertheless, Farrington is confident the village will find a happy solution.

“As the Phoenix rises from the ashes, I expect we’ll do something nice with that spot,” he said.

 

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