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Group Plans Book of Mt. Manresa Photos Taken Before it was Demolished

By Nicholas Rizzi | November 18, 2015 8:54am
 The Committee to Save Mt. Manresa started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to print the book.
Mount Manresa Photo Book
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FORT WADSWORTH — A group that fought to block the sale of historic Mount Manresa plans to publish a book featuring photos taken before it was demolished and stories about their efforts to save it.

The Committee to Save Mount Manresa started a Kickstarter campaign last week to raise $10,000 for the book that has photos before and after construction at the former Jesuit retreat house and pieces written by members about what the site means to them.

"I have photographs that precede the sale, other people in our group also have them because we love the place and that's what brought us to try and save it," said committee member Loretto Drogon, who's putting the book together for the group.

"The photos will reflect its prior glory."

Campaign backers can get a photo card of the site with a poem by Joyce Kilmer on the back, a photo mug or a framed picture from the collection gathered by members.

The Kickstarter campaign will go towards printing the book with sales from it going towards legal fees and consultant fees involved in the unsuccessful campaign, Drogon said.

The group was formed in 2013 after Jesuit priests announced plans to sell the 102-year-old property on Fingerboard Road to developers the Savo Brothers, who plan to build condominiums at the site.

Organizers held weekly protests in front of the site and took the developers to court to bar the $15 million sale of the house, which a judge eventually allowed demolition and the Savo Brothers began work on the property in 2014.

Construction hit several snags across the way, including stop work orders, $67,000 in fines and two inspectors being hit with a 36-count indictment after prosecutors said they lied about not finding asbestos at the site.

Despite the setbacks, Drogon said she was proud of the work her group has done and the book will include stories about its formation to help other people trying to save historic sites.

The group has also been working on a rezoning plan — which should be submitted soon by Community Board 1 — which aims to make it harder for developers to destroy historic properties and preserve the look of the North Shore in the future.

"People who talk to us say, 'But you lost the property and you're continuing to lose each battle,'" Drogon said. 

"We don't see it that way. Because of the rezoning plan, we think that our efforts moving forward have a lot of impact on the remaining properties on Staten Island that are vulnerable.

"We feel we have been shining a light in the dark places of deals and practices that are embedded in the culture of New York City that is pro-builder at all times, at all costs, and we have a lot of ongoing questions."

So far, the group has only raised a little more than $400 since the Kickstarter campaign started on Nov. 9, but Drogon promised the book would be printed.