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Documenting Hudson Valley Ruins

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Tarrytown native Rob Yasinsac has a long history of documenting old, run-down buildings.

When he was still in high school, Yasinsac would take walks on the old Croton Aqueduct and see remnants of estates behind Lyndhurst and Sunnyside.

Curious about what they were, he photographed them and compared them to images in books that his photography teacher had lent him about Hudson Valley Architecture.

“I had the modern-day pictures and the historic images and I was able to piece the story of what used to be there,” he said.

He’d continue photographing old buildings near Lyndhurst, taking some of the last photographs of two buildings named Pinkstone and Graystone before they were demolished.

“These buildings are disappearing without anybody knowing or caring about them or even documenting them except for me and maybe a few others,” he said. “I wanted to go out and take more pictures of them.”

Yasinsac is one of the co-founders of Hudson Valley Ruins , a website dedicated to documenting historical buildings that have been neglected, abandoned or are threatened with demolition. Yasinsac runs the site in his spare time with Tom Rinaldi

During the day, Yasinsac works as the site manager of the Philipsburg Manor restoration in Sleepy Hollow. Yasinsac also works to save historical buildings that developers want to tear down.

Yasinsac was part of a group of people who tried unsuccessfully to have Yonkers’ Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research declared a landmark. He said it looked like the building was going to be redeveloped, but then the city gave the developer approval to tear it down.

“It was not declared a landmark, but the developer hasn’t proceeded with it one way or another,” Yasinsac said. “The building is still there. Maybe if we hadn’t said anything, he would have gone ahead, I don’t really know. But it’s nice to think that perhaps we did have an impact and that people might consider a use for that building.”

Yasinsac said public support for restoring and preserving historical buildings is mixed.

Some buildings, such as Tarrytown’s old Village Hall, were demolished instead of repurposed. Other buildings, such as the Irvington Public Library, have been restored or repurposed. Irvington’s Public Library was once a vacant factory and office.

“I think once people see that, they say ‘Oh, that’s a great thing. There should be more of it.’ But people have a hard time trying to get past the broken windows or spray paint,” he said. “They see little things like that and think you should tear a building down, but a few cosmetic effects don’t affect the building on a whole.”

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