Olmsted’s Staten Island Home in State of Disrepair
On Staten Island sits an important house in a dreadful state of disrepair. Described by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission as "a distinguished residence," the former home of Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmstead was declared a landmark in 1967.
Alternately known as the Olmsted-Beil House or the Poillon House, this structure is the final remnant of the original 125-acre farm property Olmstead called home from 1848 to 1854. It was here that the idea of Central Park was conceived. This 18th century farmhouse was one of the very first official New York state landmarks, but if conservationists don't raise sufficient funds to make repairs soon, this important piece of history is sure to be demolished.
According to a New York Times article, the estimated cost of stabilizing the abandoned house is around $460,000. One-third of that price would go towards removing flammable material, erecting a security fence, and paying for architectural drawings. This price doesn't include the cost of actual restoration of the landmark house.
A Plan to Preserve
In late October, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation proposed the acquisition of an adjacent property that would protect the area around the historic farmhouse from future development while adding public park space to the neighborhood. ”The purchase of this neighboring house is an imperative step toward the goal of renovating and reopening the house.” said Staten Island parks commissioner, Lynda Ricciardone.
How You Can Help
According to Untapped Cities magazine, the New York Landmark Conservancy is in a hurry to raise renovation funds by way of a Kickstarter campaign. At the time of this blog, the conservancy group Reclaim Olmstead House Committee has received enough crowdfunding to cover the cost of stabilizing the farmhouse floor and giving the historical house a fresh coat of paint.
The ROHC is endorsed by Cultural Landmarks Foundation president, Charles Birnbaum, Prospect Park admin, Sue Donoghue, historian Kenneth Jackson and documentary filmmaker, Ric Burns.
To know more about historical restoration, contact us.Read more...
Preserving Your Historic Structure's Story
Architecture is designed with intention, meaning its form says something about the building's purpose. Form follows function. Elements such as decorative cornices, windows and doors all contribute to the story of the building's purpose. This is especially true of historic buildings. Preserving their design helps to preserve the building's story and history.
Telling a Story
There is rarely, if ever, anything random or carelessly done when designing a building. The building's size and design tells something about its importance within the surrounding community. It may also tell us something about the importance or wealth of the person or entity that originally had the building constructed. Finally, the design can tell you a lot about the time in which the building was constructed.
For example, a large and imposing door way with massive windows might have been placed in a Wall Street bank to denote the importance of the building's function in that location. Conversely, a Main Street bank in a small town may have been larger and dignified for the setting in which it was placed, but still have been far more modest than its Wall Street counterpart.
A home built in the 19th century might have included more decorative design elements that reflect architectural movements such as the Georgian, Greek revival or the Italianate Revival. This contrasts the cleaner lines often found in homes designed in the 21st century.
Preserving the Story
What would be the point in preserving a historic building if its story was not also preserved? The design choices of the building's original construction tell much about the building's history and original purpose. To wipe these elements away and clean the slate would be tantamount to destroying the building and wiping away history altogether.
When restoring a building, careful consideration should be given to the building's history. It is important that the artisans and craftspeople involved in the restoration process have a thorough grounding in historic building materials and practices. Every attempt should be made to ensure that the building's historic integrity, as well as its structural integrity, is preserved.
The team at Scott Henson Architect are experts in preserving and restoring historic buildings. They direct that expertise toward preserving the character of a historic structure while ensuring that it remains a functional, contributing member of the modern urban landscape. Contact Scott Henson Architect today to find out how they can help preserve your historic treasure.