Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 23 July 2010 00:00
In 2009, Cedarmere, the longtime home of William Cullen Bryant, was closed for renovation work. It has remained that way as Nassau County, which is responsible for its administration, continues to navigate through the current economic situation.
However, a number of Roslyn area residents have, for the past year, expressed a desire to reopen Cedar-mere. Recently, the directors of The Friends of Cedarmere, signed the papers organizing the group as a not-for-profit organization.
The goal of The Friends, according to Harrison Hunt, is to promote and support the Cedarmere and particularly, to get the house reopened as a museum.
For now, The Friends are trying to gain tax-exempt status for the organization. Beyond that, they hope to build popular community support for it. In the near term, members hope to meet with representatives of the Parks, Recreation and Museums Department, which is responsible for Cedarmere’s administration. A meeting between the two groups was held in February of this year and Hunt hopes that a future meeting can clarify what the Parks Department’s plans are for Cedarmere and how The Friends might give assistance.
In addition to recruit as many members as possible, The Friends, Hunt added, also hope to publish a newsletter and to plan for some activities for the fall months.
Hunt said that successful renovation work has already taken place on the resting porch and the flat roofs. Last year, Hunt said that renovation was necessary to Cedarmere’s future survival.
“Anyone who saw the place before it was opened to the public in 1994 will remember how overgrown it was,” Hunt said in March 2009. “If not maintained, Cedar-mere’s beautiful gardens and vistas will quickly go back to the way they were. Cedarmere has often been described as ‘a little gem’ and ‘one of the most beautiful places in Nassau County.’ It deserves to get the care it needs.”
It was in March 2009, that local residents began organizing to save Cedarmere. At a March 7 meeting, an idea for the formation of The Friends of Cedarmere took root.
“It is a beautiful place, and provides the only public access to the waterfront in Roslyn Harbor,” said local resident Arleen Lopez, a member of the Friends steering committee. “It should remain open to the public.”
Over 100 people attended the March 7 meeting. Among those showing an interest in The Friends were Roslyn Mayor John Durkin, plus members of the Roslyn Landmark Society, the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee, and the Glenwood/Glen Head Civic Association. Representatives of County Legislator Wayne Wink and Assemblyman Charles Lavine also attended.
At the meeting, Harrison Hunt gave a historical overview of Bryant’s contributions to society. His report was augmented by attorney William Dawson who spoke on the stipulations made by Bryant’s heirs when the county was given the deed to the property, namely that it be used for educational, cultural and social purposes and that if these stipulations were not met, ownership could revert to the family.
The county’s response to this initial gathering was delivered by Eileen Krieb, the executive coordinator for the Department of Parks, Recreation & Museums. Ms. Krieb said that the Long Island-based engineering firm of Thorton, Tomasetti has done a needs assessment on not only the Cedarmere property, but on other historic sites in Nassau County.
A not-for-profit organization, Ms. Krieb added, has contributed to the restoration of the mill area, plus the garage and the house’s single apartment.
In addition, monies from both the 2004 and 2006 environmental bond acts will contribute to the restoration of wetlands near Cedarmere’s mill.
“Our goal is to reopen Cedarmere to the public,” Ms. Krieb said, adding that her office hopes to meet with the group Friends of Cedarmere once the current budget process also is completed.
Cedarmere was constructed in 1839, as Bryant commuted by sea and land, from his home in Roslyn Harbor to his offices in Manhattan at The New York Evening Post, where he served as editor. Fifteen years after Bryant’s death in 1893, a Long Island resident, Lloyd Bryce, bought the inland portion of the estate. Bryce then hired an architect, Ogden Codman, to design a mansion for it. Two decades later, in 1919, Henry Clay Frick, purchased the estate for his son, Childs, who lived there with his family until his own passing in 1965. In 1969, Cedarmere was turned over to the county for use as a museum.