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Letting the Light in at Olmsted-Beil House

Frederick Law Olmsted lived in this Staten Island farmhouse when he was experimenting with the ideas that he would eventually incorporate into his designs from Central Park and Prospect Park. Some of the trees he planted still grow there. The house was later occupied by Carlton Beil, a noted Staten Island naturalist, and his family. The Beil family sold the house to the City in 2006 and the grounds were made a City park.

Unfortunately, the house and grounds were not maintained. The Conservancy began a campaign in 2017 to raise awareness of the house’s importance and begin restoration.

Our prior work restored foundation walls, waterproofed the basement, shored up beams and other structural supports, and dismantled unstable brick piers and beams that once supported a porch. The house’s windows were boarded up with plywood for years. It looked like a vacant building and was susceptible to vandalism.

This month, the plywood was removed and clear, protective Lexan was installed over the window openings. The interiors are now flooded with natural light, showing their true potential for a site that will be open to the public someday. Now that the historic windows can be examined, some of them will be restored.

The Staten Island Foundation has supported our efforts and funded this latest improvement. Fifty Three Restorations, Inc. performed the work.

A local non-profit organization, the Friends of Olmsted-Beil House maintains the grounds and carries out programming about the site’s history.

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