Armstrong House Renovation

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Armstrong House Under Renovation 2011


What is this project and how does it further the Land Conservancy’s purpose?

The overarching mission of the Pound Ridge Land Conservancy is to preserve open land in its natural state here in town.

The Armstrong House is aligned with and promotes this mission by providing a residence to a professionally trained land steward with the aim of bringing expert land stewardship practices to the PRLC preserves and other protected open space in Pound Ridge. These stewardship capabilities supplement volunteer efforts currently existing in the organization. PRLC’s land steward designs and executes field work and programs such as woodland health inventorying and invasive plant management programs, mentors high school students on a variety of ecological and environmental science projects for community service credit, and, of course, provides leadership maintaining our walking trails. PRLC staff works with volunteers- both individuals and groups- and manages the upkeep and changes to the Armstrong’s working backyard landscape, among many other responsibilities.

In addition to providing housing for the organization’s land steward, the Armstrong house functions as an educational, private facility prototyping a ‘green’ living lifestyle to promote the recognition that land preservation, natural resources protection and habitat conservation are possible through a combination of outright land protection and lifestyle choices. The off-the-grid residence demonstrates that a smaller ecological footprint is possible without having to ‘give-up’ the benefits of modern 21stcentury living. Research into programming continues and PRLC staff seek feedback and suggestions as to future community outreach and education. All this is supported currently by PRLC members, private, local family foundations,  the New York State Conservation Partnership Program administered by the Land Trust Alliance in conjunction with the DEC and other funding sources. The majority of support comes from the local community- our neighbor, friends and associates.

Lastly, it is the mission of the Armstrong House to demonstrate how an existing, historic structure can be preserved while introducing a successful program of alternative technologies to ‘power’ an off-the-grid residence. Preserving the ‘historic viewshed’ of the property and structure, while not increasing the human footprint impacts, can be vital to protecting the integrity of the surrounding open space.

Hundreds of hours of volunteer time supplemented PRLC’s small construction crew and sub-contractors who deeply discounted their rates and materials to make this project a reality. High school students from both John Jay and Fox Lane High Schools have earned many hours of community service working at the job site. Starting as early as 2011,  AP Environmental Classes from both schools have conducted research into alternative energy systems and other projects that continue to benefit this ‘green’ community resource, including gray water recycling, biogas generation and use, and wind and solar power. College interns have contributed to many pages of this site. Look for new energy systems updates as we continue to upgrade and integrate new technologies into this prototype.

The House was completed in March of 2012 and now functions as the Armstrong Education Center - PRLC’s office and meeting space for much of its programming including hands-on workshops, educational events, nature documentary movie nights throughout the year. It is home to PRLC’s summer internship and year-round volunteer programs as well as the ‘outdoor classroom’ learning venues and demonstrational land-management projects. A self-guided tour of these learning venues is available via a fully-blazed loop trail and educational signage.