Monday, March 09, 2009

Important Local, Publicly Owned Historic Site in Jeopardy

Nassau County has disassembled exhibits and removed priceless artifacts from Cedarmere, the estate of William Cullen Bryant (1794 to 1878) in Roslyn Harbor.

A decision to close the facility appears to have been made separate from and before other closures were announced affecting other County facilities due to the current fiscal crises.

As of this writing, the County’s long-term plans for Cedarmere are unclear. A Friends group is forming to explore the possibility of a public-private partnership to help keep the facility open. Contact information will be posted here when it is available.

Please consider informing County Executive Tom Suozzi, Legislator Wayne Wink, Majority Leader Diane Yatauro, and Minority Leader Peter Schmitt that this important historic property has a strong constituency. Email messages can be sent through the Nassau County website.

Bryant’s heirs donated the estate to the county in 1975 with the stipulation that the property be open to the public and used for educational purposes. In recent years, the facility has been used for growing numbers of school groups, art classes, recitals, weddings, and other events. If the facility is not reopened in a timely fashion, the property could revert back to the heirs.

Bryant was a driving force of the Romantic Movement, editor of the New York Post for half a century, and a confidant of Abraham Lincoln. His estate was a gathering place for the 19th century’s most notable authors, architects, painters, and musicians.

Roslyn’s Bryant Library and Bryant Park, adjacent to the main branch of the New York City Public Library, are named for him. Several hundred thousand dollars from various grant sources have been awarded to continue needed maintenance.

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