Historic Mansion in New Rochelle Goes Up in Flames

What to Know

  • The historic Wildcliff mansion in New Rochelle has been destroyed in a fire
  • The property was built in the 1850s and donated to New Rochelle in 1940
  • Investigators are looking into where and how the fire started; no one was hurt and no other homes were affected

A historic mansion in New Rochelle has been destroyed in a massive fire Monday.  

The fire at Cyrus Lawton House, or the Wildcliff, broke out before 5 p.m. Monday. More than three dozen firefighters worked in pouring rain to knock out the fire. New Rochelle Fire Chief Andy Sandor said the place will have to be razed. 

Built in the 1850s, the mansion is currently owned by the city and isn't occupied. Investigators are looking into a cause of the fire. 

Mayor Noam Bramson said in a statement he's "deeply saddened" by the loss of a city property that "I personally have known and loved." 

"While the investigation will begin into the cause and it is too soon for next steps, we want to express our gratitude to the member of the Fire, Police, Public Works and Parks Departments who are each doing their part this evening in horrendous conditions to protect and secure the surrounding neighborhood," he said. 

Built in 1855, Wildcliff was designed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis, and the Gothic cottage was gifted to the city of New Rochelle by the Julius Prince family in 1940, the city said. It overlooked the Long Island Sound atop a hill on Woodcliff Road. 

An article published in April 2012 on, a community website in Westchester, said the 20-room house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, but has since continued to fall into ruin. 

The city had been looking to have the storied property leased for use. Officials said the home had "many lives over the years."

"We just put in a new roof and new custom windows in the last 6 to 8 years, so it's been vacant," said Suzanne Reider, senior project manager for the city. 

"Hopefully we'll be able to do something but nothing would replicate what was here," she said. "It was a spectacular space." 

No other homes 

Contact Us