The historic former Staten Island home of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted is one of the city’s many designated landmarks, but you wouldn’t know from the looks of it. Preservationists from the New York Landmarks Conservancy were so alarmed by the conditions of the site that they drafted an open letter to the commissioner of the NYC Parks Department, which owns the property, expressing concern about the deteriorating Olmsted House.
“The Landmarks Conservancy is quite concerned about the condition of the Olmsted-Beil Park and house on Staten Island that we observed on a visit this week,” says the July 19 letter. “There has been a dramatic deterioration of the house since our last visit several years ago and the landscape has been left to ruin. Frederick Law Olmsted’s former home and farm, the site of his early landscape experiments and nursery, deserve better.”
Olmsted, in collaboration with famed designer Calvert B. Vaux, is best known for his designs for Central and Prospect parks dating to the mid to late 1800s.
According to SI Live, the Olmsted-Beil Park home in New Dorp dates in its entirety to the early 18th century, though its first floor was believed to be built in the 1690s. and was purchased by Olmsted in 1847. Olmsted would go on to transform the 125-acre site into a lovely oasis filled with exotic plants and sculpted paths. He sold the property in 1866.
The home was purchased by the Parks Department in 2006 with plans to utilize the space as an educational facility and public park, but visitors say that the city has left the place nearly abandoned with overgrown grass and an “unwelcoming” sign that simply reads “Historical Site: No Trespassing.”
After receiving the Landmarks Conservancy’s letter along with many other emailed complaints, Parks commissioner Mitchell Silver agreed to allow the conservancy to sponsor a conditions survey that will assess what measures will be required to revitalize the site. From there, the group plans on requesting city capital funding for restoration.
- After Large Public Response, Parks OK’s a Conditions Survey at Olmsted House [New York Landmarks Conservancy]
- Frederick Law Olmsted's Staten Island home subject of visit, talk [SI Live]