The living room decorated by Claudia Dowling of Claudia Dowling Interiors with holiday decorations by Michael Butkewicz, Holiday Show House Coordinator.
History meets the holidays in a visit to the newly restored Malcolm House in the Jericho Preserve. Located on the spur off Route 106 that leads to the Maine Maid Inn, the house is decorated for the holidays. The Nassau County 9/11 Foundation, in conjunction with the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums, is sponsoring the Holiday Show House at the recently restored Malcolm House in Jericho, announced Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. Nassau County Parks and Museums, Nassau Conservancy Commissioner Doreen Banks has been instrumental in restoring Malcolm House through the vision of Mr. Suozzi. "He felt that I could rejuvenate the public's interest in the county's historic properties by forming a conservancy. Since then we have a board of trustees, and a bank account; this is our first effort to improve an historic house using the expertise of Harrison Hunt, our Historic Site supervisor and the enthusiasm of artistic gifts of talented interior designers," she said in a welcome note at Malcolm House.
The colonial gem is connected to the history of the Townsend family of Raynham Hall. Oyster Bay Town Historian John Hammond said, "Dr. James Townsend (born in 1729) was the brother of Samuel Townsend (born 1717) who lived at Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay. They were both sons of Jacob Townsend of Jericho. All of the Townsends can trace their roots back to Oyster Bay to the three Townsend brothers, John, Henry and Richard, who first arrived here in 1661. Townsends moved from Oyster Bay to Matinecock, Mosquito Cove, Jericho and all over the area and then the country. Now there are probably millions of Townsend descendants," he said.
A Diary of the Jericho Preserve available at the show house tells the story of the Jackson-Malcolm farm that is part of the Jericho Preserve. It was owned by members of the Townsend family until it was inherited by Dr. James Townsend.
After marrying Mary Hicks in 1757, Dr. James Townsend moved to this homestead in Jericho, where he established his medical practice. In 1789, Dr. Townsend was elected a member of the first U.S. Congress, but he died on May 24, 1790, before the session opened. Four of his seven children also died within a few weeks of each other of some unknown cause. Following their deaths, Dr. Townsend's widow moved to Oyster Bay to live with her daughter, and his farm was sold to John Jackson.
Very little is known of John Jackson except that he was a Quaker and a fourth generation decendant of Robert Jackson, one of the original settlers of Hempstead. He was married twice, first to Charity Tredwell in 1756, and following her death to Margaret Wright Townsend. By his first marriage he had four children and by his second five more, the third being his son Obadiah.
Like his father, Obadiah was a farmer and like his father, he was married twice, first to Elizabeth Wright, who died shortly afterward. Then in 1804, he married Rachel Underhill. Obadiah's son William's daughter Phoebe Jackson married James Malcolm who served as Town Assessor and was a director of the Oyster Bay bank. Their sons William and James A. Malcolm deeded the land to James A. Malcolm Jr. It was acquired by the county on April 2, 1974.
Malcolm House was renovated this summer to reflect the 18th and 19th centuries in which it was built. The restoration was made possible through a partnership involving the Nassau Conservancy, the County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums, and a team of 16 Long Island interior and garden designers who volunteered their time and services. In addition, 140 volunteers from the Long Island and Manhattan offices of Deloitte & Touche assisted with the cleaning of the grounds and home.
Susan Giordano of Botanica Design at Giordano Country Gardens of Sea Cliff was one of the designers who helped refurbish the house. She worked on the outdoor areas. "I uncovered the slates that now create a path around the house. It was all under the ground. You couldn't open the shed door because of the undergrown. I cut down the brush that covered the yew bushes. Nassau County was going to take them out. I pruned and espaliered them so now you can walk underneath the branches as if it were a tree." She is conducting wreath-making workshops this month. "We start with a wire frame and go out and pick indiginous plants to make the wreaths. That way people learn to appreciate what is available all around them," she said.
John Schleef of Gold Coast Landscaping said his wife and sister-in-law visited Malcolm House and recommended he visit it too. He did when he was in the neighborhood. He said, "This house has a soul. It's in a wonderful setting and it's so nice it was saved and not knocked down. The decorators did a marvelous job, everything works together. Sometimes in a show house some of the rooms are done in a very modern style. Here everything works together in keeping with the house."
With its historic splendor and grounds restored designers and staff have transformed Malcolm House for the holidays into a home filled with the spirit of the season. The house will be open to the public for tours and also hold holiday-related events to benefit the 9/11 Foundation and a memorial to honor Nassau County residents who died on September 11.
Susan Giordano of Botanica Design at Giordano Country Gardens of Sea Cliff will conduct wreath-making and centerpiece workshops on Dec. 8, 13 and 15 at 11 a.m. An evening wreath-making workshop will be held on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Participation in the wreath-making workshops is by reservation only and the cost is $35 per person. Call 571-7064 for reservations.
Malcolm House will continue to provide tours to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. now through Dec. 30. Furnishings provided by the designers will be for sale, along with a gift boutique featuring special decorative items.
Malcolm House is located on the Jericho Preserve at 5 Old Jericho Turnpike across from the Maine Maid Inn. Admission is $18; senior citizens $15. For $35, the Maine Maid Inn restaurant is offering a lunch and tour package. For further information about Malcolm House or directions, call 571-7064 or visit www.nassaucountyny.gov/parks.