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[The Hall Monitor] Martha of Katonah

Todd Huttunen began appraising more than 20 years ago with a few years off in between to pursue a career in cabinet making. He relegated that to hobby status and is currently an appraiser in an assessor’s office. His best friend dubbed him The Hall Monitor because of his rigidity and respect for rules. He offers Soapbox readers tongue-in-groove insight on appraisal issues. Today he brings back memories of the rock band, The Knack, singing Martha Stewart’s version of “My Sharona Katonah [1], a sleepy town in Westchester County, New York.” …Jonathan Miller


Some years back Martha Stewart joined the likes of Ralph Lauren, George Soros, Michael Crichton (who has since sold his house for about $19,000,000, if I’m not mistaken) and numerous other celebrities and business people who own property in a section of the lovely Town of Bedford, known as Katonah. Martha acquired her 152 acres for roughly $15,000,000 in the year 2000.

Ms. Stewart was in the news recently because she would like to trademark the name “Katonah” [NPR] [2] which she already uses with regard to a line of her products. Why SHE wants trademark protection for “Katonah” is beyond comprehension, since Katonah was the name of the Indian Chief from whom the town’s land was originally purchased hundreds of years ago.

If you live in New York City and you’ve never done so, you owe it to yourself to take a train ride to Katonah one day. It’s only about an hour away and its restaurants and shops, within easy walking distance of the train station, make for a very pleasant excursion. Don’t forget the Katonah Museum of Art [KMA] [3] which is barely a mile from town.

What I find most interesting about the Hamlet of Katonah however, is the fact that its current location is not its original location. Back in 1895 the City of New York purchased land for its reservoir system, with plans to flood the area which included Katonah [4]. But rather than be simply washed away, the residents planned a new village and moved their buildings along with themselves. Over a period of fifteen years, a total of 55 houses, barns and stores were moved, pulled by horses over a track of timbers.

This may seem rather quaint in today’s world, where the term “teardown” is far more common than “save it” much less “move it”. But if you visit Katonah, where it’s been now for a hundred years or so, you might gain an appreciation for those old buildings and quietly utter a word of thanks to those, without whose efforts Katonah as we know it today would not exist.