Photos Credit: Lance J. Reha

Members and supporters of Friends of Olmsted-Beil House (FOBH), Staten Island, NY, gathered recently to celebrate 5 years since the incorporation of the non-profit group. FOBH is working to generate support for the restoration of the Olmsted-Beil House. Frederick Law Olmsted lived at the farmhouse and its 130-acre property from 1847 to 1855.  

The property, now a New York City park called Olmsted-Beil House Park, was the site of many important landscape experiments by Olmsted that he later incorporated into the design of Central Park and many of his other projects with Calvert Vaux. The farm was also the home base for Olmsted’s travels to Europe, including England, and to the American South. At the farm, he gathered the journal entries and letters he had written in Europe as Walks and Talks of An American Farmer in England

“This was a joyful and historic celebration,” said FOBH Board President Eileen Monreale.  “We are delighted that many friends came from far and wide to raise a glass and toast the Olmsted-Beil House and our achievements over these past five years!” 

FOBH was founded in October 2018 by neighbors and former residents of the farmhouse intent on protecting it from development and deterioration. Since then, the all-volunteer group has conducted extensive clean-ups of the property and a robust program of lectures and family programming; created an educational exhibit and a classroom curriculum about Olmsted and landscape architecture; published a map about the property and a children’s book about the trees on the farm; and held several festivals on the park grounds. It also initiated the co-naming by New York City of a street nearby the park as “Frederick Law Olmsted Way” and hosted visits to the site by Olmsted scholars Charles E. Beveridge, PhD, and Faye Harwell, FASLA, RLA, and by Olmsted Network President and CEO, and Board of Directors Chair Anne “Dede” Neal Petri and Philip Schultz, respectively.

Thomas B. Connelly, Principal Architect for Connolly & Hickey Historical Architects; Margaret M. Hickey, Principal Historic Preservation Specialist for the firm; and Laura Jean Watters, Executive Director of The Staten Island Foundation. The Foundation has awarded a grant to Friends of Olmsted-Beil House to contract with the Connelly & Hickey firm to prepare an historic preservation plan and schematic design for the house. Photograph by Lance J. Reha.

FOBH is a member of the Olmsted Network and is grateful for the support Network leadership and members have given to efforts to protect and restore the farmhouse and to increase awareness of the house and its storied history among the local and national communities.