Too late to hope?

Neighbors gather to mourn historic villa


Nearly 40 community members and activists gathered on a brisk Sunday afternoon to honor an architectural treasure, Villa Rosa Bonheur.

Billed as one of the first apartment buildings in the Bronx, the building has become a battleground since construction barriers popped up toward the end of last summer. It soon became apparent the structure was in real jeopardy when chunks of the barrel-tile roof disappeared.

Community members and activists have been fighting to stave off what appears to be the inevitable — the erasure of history in favor of a new apartment building that they feel would change the fabric of the neighborhood for the worse.

Bronx borough historian Lloyd Ultan gave a rich history of the Villa Rosa Bonheur, and David Gellman and Alex Mustelier spoke about the continuing fight to protect the integrity of the building.

At the end, vigil-goers placed their signs and roses against the construction barrier above which two drawn hearts symbolized the community’s affection for the storied domicile.