Mar 10, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The historic Hillcrest Jephson estate on Ridge Road is protected by deed restrictions and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and now seven acres of the estate as well as the four buildings on the property have been preserved against future development through an easement that the current owners have donated to the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation.
The easement means that the appearance of the landscape and exterior architecture of the estate buildings will remain unchanged for future generations.
“My husband and I feel very protective of the property and want it to live on long after we do,” said current owner Linda Osborne. “This is a way of kind of giving it to the community, it’s not just our property now; it’s the community’s.”
The Hillcrest Jephson estate on Ridge Road was built in 1905 by Robert Benson Davis, founder of the R. B. Davis Baking Powder Co. Following his death in 1920, Davis willed his fortune and estate to his daughter, Lucretia, whose husband, George Shipman Jephson, served as president of the company. Lucretia Davis Jephson, a philanthropist, lived on the estate until her death in 1979.
The Queen Anne Victorian House — famous for its highly visible three-story tower — sits on 8.2 acres overlooking Cazenovia Lake. The estate includes the original carriage house, guest house and ice house.
Linda and Brian Osborne bought the property in 2012 hoping to create a bed and breakfast, but deed restrictions prevented it. Instead, the Osbornes now offer their historic home as a location for the community to hold charitable events.
The Osbornes began the easement process in summer 2013. An easement is a legal document between a property owner and a qualified government or non-profit organization that restricts future activities on the property to protect specific values. The property owner continues to own and use the property but relinquishes certain rights in the greater interest of preserving it.
Easements can be attached to developed or undeveloped land (trail, open space, conservation easements) as well as to specific buildings or parts of buildings (architectural or façade easements). Most easements are attached to the property deed and therefore apply to all current and future owners of the property.
“When someone donates an easement, it’s a big deal; they’re really doing something they love,” said Judy Gianforte, director of the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation. “The Osbornes felt strongly that they wanted an extra layer of protection on top of the deed restrictions with this easement.”
The Hillcrest easement took six months to complete and required meticulous documentation of the estate’s historical, architectural and topographical features, including appraisals, surveys and title work. The Osbornes paid for the cost of the entire easement process as part of their donation, Gianforte said.
According to the easement, its purpose is to “assure that the exterior architecture and the historic, cultural and associated open space features of the property will be retained and maintained forever substantially in their current or better condition.”
The easement prohibits the demolition or removal of the four historic buildings, the addition of any new permanent structures, any decrease in the visibility of the property and buildings from adjacent roads and public areas, the subdivision of tax parcels and any industrial or commercial activities. Actions on the estate that are subject to approval by the CPF as easement holder include any alteration of exterior portions of the structures, placement of additional structures such as fences or walls, topographical changes, signage, removal or substantial pruning of trees larger than 12 feet and any other changes to other character-defining features. The easement also requires that the property be accessible to the public a minimum of one day per year.
CPF’s role as the easement holder is to regularly inspect and monitor the property to ensure that the terms of the easement are held in perpetuity, through successive owners of the property. If any violations occur in the future, the CPF is responsible to enforce the easement, including going to court if necessary.
“What this essentially means is that when you are up on Ridge Road there will be a stunning estate there forever, not land filled with houses. It retains the cultural landmark of Cazenovia history,” Gianforte said.
“We are just the next caretakers of the house, not the owners. We just want that to go forward from here. This kind of solidified that,” Osborne said.
For more information about holding charitable community events at Hillcrest, contact Linda Osborne at 243-0567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation or property easements, visit cazpreservation.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.