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July 11, 2013

House where Cooper wed is in danger

Local woman leading campaign to save DeLancey House

A part-time Cooperstown resident is trying to save a historic house that was home to one of Cooperstown’s most famous residents, James Fenimore Cooper.

The 1972 DeLancey house in Mamaroneck is in danger of being sold and torn down, according to Carol Bradshaw Akin. The house is where Cooper married Susan DeLancey in 1811 and where he wrote part of “The Spy,” his first big literary success.

“I would hope a lot of Cooperstown residents would see the need to save the house as a way of honoring James Fenimore Cooper,” said Akin, a middle school teacher who spends part of her time in Cooperstown and the other part in Mamaroneck, a Westchester County village just north of New York City.

Akin said that in the fall of 2011 she had just fought a losing battle to save another historic Westchester home, the Gedney farmhouse, where she and her late husband, Dr. Clayton Akin, had once lived, when she noticed a for sale sign on the DeLancey house.

“The owners of the DeLancey house have been very cooperative, but they are retiring and feel that it might be the right time for them to sell it,” she said.

The for sale sign is down for now, but Akin said that it will not stay down forever.

“The problem is it is a prime piece of property,” she said. “It is right on the (Boston) Post Road. It is across the street from Mamaroneck Harbor. Anyone would love to build there. So we are still under the gun.”

The house was built by Susan’s father, John Peter DeLancey, on Heathcote Hill, the site of a Revolutionary War battle. Cooper and Susan were married there on Jan. 1, 1811. They lived there with her family on and off for several years.

“It isn’t officially labeled the James Fenimore Cooper house, but it has its own significance,” Akin said.

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