Written by Marianna Wohlgemuth Friday, 25 September 2009 00:00
I received the best news today that I want to share with everyone. Senator Craig Johnson was able to obtain a capital grant for the Town to improve and restore the Schumacher House in the amount of $500,000!
This has been a longtime goal of North Lakeville and Lakeville Estates civic associations as well as many residents of Great Neck and North Hempstead (over 10 years) and to the best of my recollection, the town said at a public meeting that they would match any grants that they received.
The Cornell/Van Nostrand/Schumacher house is a rare piece of heritage from a long-forgotten time in the history of our community. It now rests in a nicely landscaped portion of New Hyde Park’s Clinton G. Martin Park, less than half a mile from its original foundation. It once stood a day’s journey from Manhattan by horse. Today one can make the trip in 35 minutes by railroad, combined with a 15-minute car ride.
The house was built by members of the famous Cornell family about or before 1750, at a time when New York was under British rule, before the Constitution was written, when democracy, as envisioned by our founding fathers, was decades away. This house witnessed and overheard family members discussing events and figures—small and large—Washington, Revere, Nathan Hale, Saratoga, Yorktown, Valley Forge, countless others—that helped gain American independence. It was a harrowing time for all Long Islanders, and this home stands as our community’s sole, albeit mute, witness to that epic struggle.
The house serves to illustrate North Hempstead’s agrarian past. Pioneers built this house to settle in a new land. The family that built this home recognized an opportunity to start a new life. They were brave and courageous to travel to an unknown land and then to raise a family. They envisioned an opportunity to build a better world for themselves. In a very real sense, this home serves as a living link between today’s residents of New Hyde Park, many also immigrants, and those who built this home. As well, when the house became part of Sperry-Rand, it also became part of the history of international diplomacy. Sperry used it as a guest house from 1941 to 1947 and then as a nursery school for children of United Nations personnel when the Sperry building was the Security Council headquarters from 1945 to 1951.
The house needs much nurturing and TLC. It is in deplorable condition. But experts tell us that it can be restored to its original state. The Town of North Hempstead land marked this house on March 15, 2005 as a landmark, subsequently NYS acknowledged its worth by placing it on their register of historical places. There was a study conducted which concluded it was restorable.
Once this house is restored, I have no doubt that it will stimulate interest in the history of our community, and become an enduring symbol to all who see it that North Hempstead is a place that cherishes culture and history and heritage. The house represents a tremendous educational resource, providing space where residents might be able to contemplate and discuss North Hempstead’s past, as well as its present and future. We look forward to its restoration to the magnificence that once was and could be again.
Thank you Senator Johnson for your help in obtaining this capital grant and look forward to working with you in the future. A fond thank you is also due to Rafe Lieber who has worked diligently to get this done. The efforts of you both are appreciated.