“Bannerman’s Island”

by Don Friedman on May 23, 2011

One of our projects was given a slide show on the New York Times website yesterday. In unromantic terms, Pollepel Island has the ruins of an abandoned military-supply business, including the home of the business’s owner, Francis Bannerman, but it’s hard to discuss the island in those terms. To anyone who’s ever seen the island from the Hudson Line trains or the nearby shore, it’s a castle from a children’s story. Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between picturesque ruin and structural collapse, and both the main warehouse building (the “castle”) and the house have crossed that line.

As a side note, the original house structure consisted of brick bearing walls supporting wood joists but later additions and alterations included concrete reinforced with a combination of rebar, wire, bayonets, and bed-springs.

The sleeping porch on the left is one of the partly-concrete additions.

Working with Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, we designed structural bracing for the house that could serve first as temporary shoring and later as part of the permanent restored structure. The masonry work and wood joists visible in the Times’s photos are part of that system.

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