Millwood’s Little Red Stationhouse bites the dust, but could make a comeback

More photos in “Read more…”
May 11, 2011
by Christine Yeres

On Wednesday morning, a single backhoe made short work of Millwood’s the little red stationhouse. Within two hours it was reduced to a pile of wood siding, shingles and beams; slate roof tiles; the bricks of the chimney; the sawdust left by insects and squirrels that have had the run of it; and the ivy that had grown up its backside, into it, and out a hole in the roof.  By afternoon,  the footings had been filled in and smoothed over.

Several years ago a 12-inch hole appeared in its slate roof, opening the stationhouse to the elements.  A peek inside an open back door last Sunday revealed an interior even more decayed than its exterior, and very musty.  Three days later, the stationhouse was demolished.

Town says, “Fix or tear down”

Nearly a year ago, at the urging of the Millwood Task Force, New Castle’s Building Inspector Bill Maskiell had notified the owner, Leo Rotta, that the building must be either fixed or torn down.  Over the years, attracted by its central location and proximity to the County Trailway, several entrepreneurs had attempted—each without success—to lease the building from Rotta.  The Millwood Fire Company considered saving the stationhouse by moving the structure to its Fire Station No. 1 property, but concluded that it was too unsound to survive the trip.

Then last December Rotta died, and his daughter arranged for the take-down this week.

Operating on another track, New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter announced to Millwood Task Force members last week that she had sounded out Westchester County officials to learn, first, whether the stationhouse could be shored up and moved to County-owned property 50 feet south (of its now-former location), for use as a concession stand to service walkers and bikers on the County Trailway.  The County was open to the idea. 

All aboard, BOCES!

Once Carpenter learned that the stationhouse was not salvageable, however, she suggested to County officials a new plan: BOCES in Yorktown had expressed interest having its students help to create an exact replica of the Millwood stationhouse, to be placed on County property.  BOCES students could create architectural drawings—and even prefabricate parts of the structure.  And they have a twin of the stationhouse to study, in Yorktown. 

Next stop: Martine Avenue in White Plains, County Headquarters

“It would be great to have the little stationhouse again in Millwood,” said Carpenter, “and for the County to be able to lease it as a concession stand.”  She will talk further with County officials.

The slideshow requires javascript and Flash


The slideshow requires javascript and Flash

We encourage civil, civic discourse. All comments are reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.

Although it’s lovely that BOCES students may enjoy making a replica, it is a shame that this building was allowed to decay when there was entrepreneurial interest and energy to have prevented it while offering the community some benefit.

By Chrissanth Gross on 05/11/2012 at 8:28 am

The emotional epicenter of Millwood has been demolished; the Little Red Railroad Station could not survive The Town of New Castle under private ownership. The Community needs to investigate why this structure was left vacant for 35 years? What hurdles, road blocks, red tape, existed, where for 35 yrs; it was thought best to keep the building vacant. The owners of this property have lost well over $315k in gross rental income. Why would it be in their best interest to have left this money on the table, and at the same time see the building breakdown little by little, unitl it ultimately had to be demolished. If we can figure out why this happened, and fix it,then like a cookie cutter, we can run around Westchester County correcting such matters of the same kind. What problems, hurdles, issues, rejections, denials, red tape, and frustrations; did these owners have to contend with for this property to come to this end. Also, why should we now provide Government sponsored business competition for other businesses that are trying to wake up everyday and pay their own bills.

By Many are at fault! on 05/11/2012 at 9:31 am

Shame on the Millwood Task Force and the property owners for letting the only piece of architecture in Millwood with any beauty and history be destroyed.  The fact that not any of the wood or remnants of the building were salvaged to either recycle in the new “replica” or for history is against everything we are teaching our children.

By Saddened Millwood resident on 05/11/2012 at 11:36 am

More important to teach our children than recycling is to participate in local government.  There’s never anyone at the Millwood Task Force meetings except task force members and press.  Is there anyone IN Millwood, really and truly?

By There's something more important on 05/11/2012 at 12:15 pm

My wife and I spend half our time in Fla and half still in Millwood. Among the many things we are so happy to see when we return is the little red house. We have been back 2 weeks and were so happy to pass the building several times. Today was a very sad event, only seeing an empty space.
I guess if it was located in another part of New Castle this would never have happened; yes I’m very bitter.

By Jerry & Barbara M on 05/11/2012 at 3:56 pm

Re: There’s something more important

Why does the Millwood Task Force have such a name? Task: work that must be done - burden - strain - scold. Task force: group. esp. a military unit, assigned task. Force: Strength, power, coercion, effectiveness, organized group - as army. Make to do something, compel, break open, impose, produce by force - forceful. These are Webster definitions. How about changing the name to Millwood Advocate Counsel, or Counsel Group of Millwood. The current name sets a negative tone and mindset from the start. The name by itself thwarts participation.

By O'K on 05/11/2012 at 4:23 pm

Re: Saddened Millwood resident

Before we cast shame on to others, scratch below the surface and find out the reasons why this building existed as it did, and why it ultimately had to be demolished. Anyone who has the same type of emotional energy, please look into this matter, and lets have a constructive debate that will help not just the Hamlet of Millwood, but many other areas of Westchester County.

By Wow on 05/11/2012 at 7:05 pm

May Leo Rotta and the Millwood Train station rest in peace.
It is time to move on.

By WDM on 05/11/2012 at 8:15 pm

I don’t blame the Millwood Task Force or the Town Board for the deterioration of the train station. I was privately owned and the owner did what he wanted with it, which was nothing.  That was his prerogative.  None of us would wish to be told what to do with his or her property.  We have no right to tell others. The property there is not big enough to have anything that needs any kind of parking, so I’m not sure what the current owner can ever do with it.  But we’ll see.

I do like the idea that we may have a look-alike. I would give money toward such an effort and I think others would too.

By End of discussion. Let's move on. on 05/11/2012 at 11:28 pm

Perhaps Mr. Leo Rotta can rest in peace. But while he was alive, take a look back at what he had to endure. He had to pay the highest property taxes in the Nation, had to suffer having his property insurance increase by three fold due to the events of 9/11. Had many
entrepreneurial individuals knocking down his door to open up a business; and he eventualy came to learn that he would never be successful in making anything happen, but proceeded with all interested parties to protect and show everyone that he was trying. No one ever supported or cared about such matters, or if they did, more RED TAPE, RULES, REGULATIONS, APPLICATIONS, CONSULTANTS - that killed the process to produce a positive outcome called prosperity and jobs. I believe Mr. Rotta must have spent over $200k in protecting his property from a Government takeover called eminent domain. Mr. Rotta had the credentials of a Draftsman / Architect, and as such, had drawings showing the redevelopment of his property. It had to be very painful in many ways for Mr. Rotta to have owned this property without the help and support of local Government. A Government that now expresses that “they” would like to build a replica and receive rental income. I say give the Rotta Family 10 years of FREE PROPERTY TAXES and let them rebuild a replica.

By R I P on 05/12/2012 at 8:10 pm

Re: End of Discussion. Let’s move on.

Your display name really summarizes the attitude that the Millwood Hamlet and the Rotta family has had to contend with. I challenge all that seek to make Westchester County a better place, by performing a business autopsy as to what lead to the breakdown of the Little Red Railroad Station. I agree, with the remarks above, this was the emotional epicenter of Millwood. Your defense is to recite or make reference to rules and regulations, that played a part in seeing to it that the structure had to be totally demolished. If discretion or flexibility was allowed into the mix, perhaps it would have been a beautiful bicycle shop /rentals, or a unique store of some sorts, but at least still around. Perhaps even a sneaker store. Now it’s gone, maybe the replica will have an insulated fiberglass entrance door.

By No, no, let's talk on 05/14/2012 at 12:31 pm

Clint Eastwood said during the Super Bowl that it was half time, and that America was going to start its engine, and when it does, all will hear our engines roar. Well, we heard the engines roaring, but it was an excavator starting up to tear a piece of America down. I to agree, we should evaluate what happened hear, and why it was vacant and left best to deteriorate for so many years. This little Millwood matter does speak volumes.

By The Good, the bad, and the Ugly on 05/14/2012 at 12:44 pm

Really, I do not understand why this building had to be demolished in this day and age, when we have building technologies that could have easily restored this building. I agree, this building represents a financial breakdown, most likely due to not being able to get an interested tenant. What the heck happened here! Did the town know in advance that this building was coming down? Yes, what took place here. I want to hear from the owners!

By What happened on 05/14/2012 at 1:10 pm

Get over it, move on, enough already. It was only a building that was painted with patriotic colors. Yeah, the lot is small, it serves the lumberyard, but perhaps the town will allow something to be done with this lot that will help reduce everyones residential tax base.

By Now what? on 05/14/2012 at 3:48 pm

See what? The Railroad Station! No, where is it? Exactly, my point! Now what? I don’t know, do YOU?

By You see? on 05/14/2012 at 4:06 pm

To “R.I.P”— Mr. R had his own agenda.  Government and red tape was not responsible for the demise of the station house.  Mr. R did not lift a finger to protect or preserve the station.  He didn’t want it.  And I believe he didn’t want anyone else to have it because he had grander plans, which is OK—but it’s not the fault of “red tape, rules and regs.”  He wasn’t interested in have that station last—and he knew that a lot of people WERE interested in keeping it from rotting.  It was his call to let it rot.  Don’t blame government.

By Contrary view on 05/15/2012 at 7:13 am

A sad goodbye to the Millwood Station….  a little gem !!!

By J.E.S. on 05/16/2012 at 9:32 am

Re: Contrary view

  Your contrary view is 100% wrong. If you need a car to get to work and you go out and buy a new car. One would have to believe that you are going to use the car to get to work. What you are suggesting is that Mr. Rotta, after buying a new car, did not want to use his new car, and instead opted to walk to work. Mr. or Mrs. Contrary view, it is this THING that is in play in the Millwood Hamlet that requires sometype of looking into. Because Mr. Rotta always wanted to lease the Railroad Station out but I believe was purposely frustrated in achieving anything with it. Don’t make him out to be a vindictive financial fool because he tried many times.

By Not true! on 05/16/2012 at 5:15 pm

Perhaps for the health and well-being of the community it would be appropriate for this matter to be explored to some degree. I assure those that are posting here that the attention of some have been accomplished. It is now time for this matter to rest. We should all move forward towards a more positive direction.

By Acknowledged on 05/16/2012 at 5:29 pm

Mr. Rotta had absolutely no interest in doing anything with the train station.  He was hoping it would fall down on its own so he wouldn’t look like the bad guy.  He was approached on two occasions (that I am aware of) by people that wanted to rent out the station.  On one of those occasions the contract was drawn up but at the last minute Mr. Rotta told the perspective renter that he could only have 2 parking spots (of the 12 he was promised) and the rest would be used for the Lumberyard.  There were also some other unreasonable last minute demands and the the Renter walked away.  The community rallied around Mr Rotta to stop the taking of his property and he did nothing to pay them back.  That is just the plain truth

By Couldn't agree more with "Contrary view" on 05/17/2012 at 5:42 pm

You have to explore deeper to understand why Mr. Rotta was forced and positioned by rules, regulations, stipulations, and red tape. If you do not explore below the surface of the matter, then you will not understand, what Mr. Rotta was trying to do, based on a set of circumstances that were impossible to modify for the Communities benefit. If you were a person that was frustrated by Mr. Rotta, it is only due to the fact that Mr. Rotta had to juggle many issues while keeping the interest alive to do something with the building. It’s not a set of circumstances that you believe it to be. Mr. Rotta tried in every way possible, but a person does get numb after a while.

By Here we Go! on 05/18/2012 at 11:09 am

Mr. Rotta for many years had dreams and aspirations of developing his property. His dreams were iced by various areas of Government. Last minute changes were a survival tactic to keep an interested party, interested, and at the same time seeing if the town wanted what was being proposed. Both Mr. Rotta and the town knew the unspoken issues that had to be successfully addressed in either one way or the other. Depending on what the town wanted. The town always went the opposite way. Mr. Rotta knew if he was going to be successful in achieving a deal based on offered town solutions to questions never asked. Mr. Rotta developed a unique way of trying to conduct business, and was it held secret to the last minute - maybe. The record was being built up by Mr. Rotta until a correct party could come along that had the ability to receive approvals. Nothing is a secret, it is out in the open, but if you don’t know where to look, and if you do not ask the right questions up front. Then you will enter the spin cycle until your enthusiasm is dried out of you by the process that you have to agree to getting thrown into. To say that Mr. Rotta did not want the Railroad Station to be beautiful and occupied, is so very wrong. You just don’t know, and if you are a person with a position, all you are doing is trying to defend inactions.  Actions that have the Rotta family dealing with two loses that are a product of New Castle. How many times did Mr. Rotta walk into town only to be rejected without any record being created for the record???

By You can't handle the truth on 05/18/2012 at 4:30 pm

Post a comment:

Display Name*:

Your Display Name will be associated with this comment on We encourage commentators to use their real name or initials.

We encourage civil, civic discourse. In other words, be pithy and polite. All comments will be reviewed before publication to assure that this standard is met.