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Unique Concrete

Chappaqua, New York

A local designated landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this truly unique building is located an hour of north of New York City. New York Tribune editor and former congressman, Horace Greeley, created this building originally as an innovative dairy barn in 1856. Built into a slope, the barn allowed for at-grade access to multiple levels (a feature to be widely used in later barns) and most revolutionary of all, he constructed the barn out of stone and concrete and is one of the first uses of concrete in the United States. The exterior walls are two feet thick.

In 1892, Greeley’s daughter converted the barn into a residence with the architect that had just completed The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. The interior and exterior exhibit neo-gothic overtones.

We studied many layouts for a ground floor renovation to increase the efficiency of the circulation and spaces. Ultimately we decided on enlarging the kitchen to make it the hub of the ground floor rooms.


With the client and builder, we came across serendipitous reveals during demolition that informed the final finishes – un-covered beaded board was re-purposed throughout the kitchen, and the joists above were left exposed.


With such a unique building that changed over time, we worked with a structural engineer to map the loads affecting the removal of ground floor walls. The solution was to hang steel beams to provide support for the joists. The visible modern painted black steel beams add another layer to the story of the ever-changing barn-house.

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