By Bill Parry
Astoria-based attorney Philip Loria wants to make something perfectly clear. He is an owner of the Steinway Mansion and he has not sold it to Karl McNamara, an attorney who claimed he bought the historic home and planned to restore it and turn it into a music conservancy.
“I want to make it unequivocally clear that the Steinway Mansion was never sold nor is it in contract to be sold,” Loria said in an e-mail. “Furthermore, I do not know of any attorney Karl McNamara nor have I had any discussions, conversations or dealings whatsoever with this alleged individual, the Friends of Steinway, Bob Singleton or anyone else regarding the Steinway Mansion or the alleged Steinway Conservancy Music School.”
McNamara was scheduled to make a presentation at a public meeting at the Greater Astoria Historical Society Monday at 7 p.m. to discuss his alleged purchase of the iconic mansion and his plans to open the Steinway Conservancy.
In a mission statement received by Greater Astoria Historical Society Executive Director Bob Singleton Sept. 7, McNamara writes, “The Steinway Conservatory is dedicated to providing a tuition-free, world-class musical education for all gifted individuals who come from low-income or disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Singleton also runs Friends of Steinway Mansion, a group that advocates for the landmarked 27-room mansion built in 1858 and purchased by the legendary piano-making Steinway family in the 1870s. Traffic on the group’s Facebook page picked up on April 23 when the trees on the property were cut down. Later in the spring the hill upon which the mansion sits, land that is not landmarked, was excavated to create room for the construction of 11 warehouses.
Singleton and other preservationists, worried about the safety of the old mansion in the middle of an active construction zone, took to the Facebook page to rally support for their cause. In early June, Karl McNamara and his wife joined the online conversation, Singleton said.
Last week, McNamara asked for and received a block of time to present details of his purchase of the Steinway Mansion to the public meeting on Monday, according to Singleton.
“That’s great news,” McNamara wrote in an email response to him. “Really looking forward to presenting a real show stopper for you and the Friends. Please feel free to mention and promote the Steinway Conservatory any way you like. Perhaps a little tease to whet the public’s appetite and fire their imaginations. Let’s start getting them use to NYC’s newest school of music.”
Singleton responded, “Then I take it you own the place and the deal has closed?”
McNamara wrote back 20 minutes later, “Yes. Wouldn’t be giving a presentation otherwise.” That was Sept. 11 and McNamara had not answered Singleton’s emails as of Wednesday night.
McNamara and his public relations team have not responded to repeated questions from TimesLedger Newspapers.
It was not known if he would show up for the public meeting at the Greater Astoria Historical Society public meeting Monday. He remains on the schedule.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr