BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — A new home joined the Clifton Park Historic Register last month.
The William Peters House, which was built in 1814, can be found at 1773 Crescent Road in Vischer Ferry.
William Peters (1782-1856) built it with his own hands, with the help of his wife, Jenette (1787-1858).
“He was a miller,” town historian John Scherer said. “He owned the grist mill, which was located across the road from the house, on Stony Creek. The mill pond was in back of the house.”
The Federal-style house stills retains a great deal of its original details, with the notable exception of the front door, which was remodeled in 1845 in the Greek revival style. “The house has some nice original woodwork in it, the original fireplace, the stairway and a nice central hall,” Scherer said.
The Town Board approved a resolution Sept. 14 adding the house to the register.
It isn’t an easy feat to be declared historic. “We have to visit the home because in order to be on the town’s historic register, the interior has to have its original footprint and has to retain some original elements,” Scherer said.
“For the William Peters house, the original floor plan and even the doorway is still an important architectural feature in the course of the period; both interior and exterior have to be in fairly original condition. We use same criteria that is used for the National Register Program.”
The owner of a historic property has to put a great deal of time, energy and money into caring for the home. “When a person has their house placed on our town register, the people who own it can apply for a zoning easement,” Scherer said. “We call it the historic preservation easement and if they agree to abide by the historic preservation ordinance, on a sliding scale from 15 to 25 years, it will cut your tax assessment almost in half, the assessment value of the building. The zoning ordinance indicates that any changes made to the exterior of the building have to be approved by the town on a recommendation from the historic preservation commission.”
He continued: “People in historic houses have to spend more money to maintain them; you have to paint them because you don’t have vinyl siding on them and just overall repair work is more costly. The tax easement encourages people to live in these homes and keep them up.”
Henry Tetreault, current owner of the William Peters house, seems to have an advantage; he is a local artisan and skilled in the craft of woodworking. By using period tools from the 1800s he has been able to refurbish window sashes and moldings, according to the town. He could not be reached for comment for this story.
Maintaining the integrity of historic homes holds a significant importance. “These old houses are a sense of the past,” Scherer said. “People before us used to live here and what were they like? Now the present occupants are enjoying the same house.”