As the clothes indicate, in 1892 David Abercrombie established a high-end rugged wear and outdoor equipment emporium near Wall Street. He soon began outfitting intrepid explorers Robert Peary and President Theodore Roosevelt.
His partnership with well-heeled lawyer Ezra Fitch in 1904 dissolved soon after: Abercombie insisted on selling to affluent clients while the newcomer sought mainstream appeal. In 1907, Abercrombie sold his interest to Fitch, who preserved the name.
Abercrombie stayed true to his vision and achieved success. He joined the Army during World War I, helping to outfit troops overseas. After the war, he quasi-retired and built his dream home: a 25-room medieval Scottish-style castle embellished with arched windows and a spiral iron staircase leading to the top of the turret, which offers city and river views.
Appropriately, the singular structure occupies a rocky outcropping at the crest of a ridge in the Town of New Castle for zoning and land use purposes. The Town of Ossining provides services.
He completed the house in 1927, according to local historian Miguel Hernandez, and named it Elda, an acronym created by the first letters of his four children’s names.
Even by Westchester standards, the property stunned in its heyday. When the family moved in, the house sat within a 300 acre idyll laced with horse trails and including a spring-fed pool and a fishing pond.
After Abercrombie died in 1937, his family sold to a company that conducted research on paint. It sat abandoned through the 1950s, when vandals ignited several fires, wrote Hernandez.
In 1964, James Harrick, founder of the local Harrick Scientific Company, bought it for $15,000 and lived there through the 1980s. Another couple paid $1.5 million in 2001, but their attempt to create a retreat and conference center failed, according to Hernandez.
In 2011, current owners Morgan Immovable Property Corp. spent $3.75 million on the estate, which has been on the market since 2017.
After listing agent Christina DiMinno got in touch with Hernandez, “the family came out of the woodwork, from Idaho, Florida, all over,” she said, but the wealth never reached the next generation. “They’d love to restore it but they don’t have the money.”
A sign in Spanish and English hanging on an open gate in the back of the lot reads: “This Property is Under 24 Hour Video Surveillance.” Were that true, the footage would feature a long loop of destruction and debauchery.
Every window is broken and the entire interior of the 4,337 square foot space has experienced extensive damage — artist/vandals even created a huge graffiti mural on an outside wall.
Today, the property has dwindled to almost 50 acres, yet the bones of the damaged house remain intact due to its steel skeleton clad with fieldstone and granite cultivated from the grounds.
Potential buyers might include a hospitality center, non-profit headquarters, Abercrombie & Fitch, fans of Abercrombie & Fitch or perhaps a solar farm, said DiMinno.
A price cut enacted last month [Feb. 21] – down to $3.2 million from $3.5 million – may help. In 2019, taxes totaled $109,701.
The property is zoned for two acre lots, but the rugged geography and conservation restrictions (a portion abuts the Sunny Ridge Reserve) would likely limit the number of houses that could occupy the grounds, according to the Town of New Castle building department.
For now, the property’s centerpiece, the decaying grand mansion, awaits someone willing to bestow it with royal treatment.