Is the Dragon Inn / Clovelea cursed? Perhaps it’s the waning, blustery days of early October, but the latest round of news suggests there is something ill-fated about this grand old decrepit Victorian mansion on 9W near the S-curve— which, come to think of it, certainly looks the part of a haunted house.
Ever since it was gutted by a fire over 20 years ago, attempts to rehabilitate the structure have been frustrated. Former owner Ching Ya Wu spent thousands on an addition, new windows, and other work, but was eventually defeated by the enormity of the task, the elements and the housing crash. After giving up on further renovations, Wu had been seeking a buyer for years, but the price was too high, and Moskowitz was able to purchase it earlier this year at a foreclosure auction. He plans to build a separate boutique hotel on the property and use the original house as a common area, but he quickly found himself at odds with the village over what to do about vagrants, fencing and permits.
Most recently, Moskowitz was slapped with a stop-work order by the village after initiating some clean-up work and the removal of the long-despised addition.
“Two months ago, the code officer cited the property and said the long grass and brush had to be taken care of,” Moskowitz said. “So we went up there and found a squatter. We called police, who said they were unsure of who had jurisdiction to get the guy out.
So I went over and got the guy out, we cut down the brush and I hired a crew to take of the front addition that was already falling down, with the intention of boarding the building up and making it safer.”
But there was a problem.
“He didn’t go about it in a legal manner, so I had to shut it down,” said Village of Saugerties Code Enforcement Officer Eyal Saad.
Before any demolition work can be done on the site, Moskowitz needs to file an application with the Saugerties Historic Review Board because the building has been designated historic.
Several years ago, the previous owner applied to the board to tear the whole building down, but that application was denied.
If the board grants Moskowitz approval to tear down the addition, he will then have to get a crew certified in asbestos abatement and get Saad’s green light.
“I was just trying to do something good for the community,” Moskowitz said. “Trying to make it at least not so disgusting.”
Beyond that, there are no plans to move forward with the project.
“I have no funds,” Moskowitz said. “Right now I’m just trying to make it safe and secure.”
And so the saga continues. There will likely be more conflict between this property owner and local officials, and perhaps the preservation crowd, depending on what form plans take for Clovelea. Will Moskowitz be sucked into the quicksand of an unfixable project or will the curse be broken? Stay tuned.