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.
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.
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.
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