The Town of North Hempstead has received a long-awaited $500,000 state grant that will help launch restoration of the deteriorating 18th-century Schumacher House in New Hyde Park.
The town plans to reopen the historic house in Clinton G. Martin Park as a public meeting place and home for local historical documents after the $1.5 million renovation is completed. The house closed in 1990 due to neglect.
"This project has been in the making for a very long time," North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. "We're now looking forward to starting the renovation" in the fall.
Kevin J. Walsh, an architect for BBS Architects and Engineers in Patchogue, said the first phase will involve "drying out" the 3,200-square-foot house, which has been plagued by water damage, and getting rid of the plaster inside.
"Job one is to close it off so that nothing else can get in," Walsh said.
In addition to water problems, rats, raccoons and other wildlife have made their homes there.
The project had been in what officials described as a "holding pattern" after a grant from the New York State Dormitory Authority was promised about four years ago. During that time historical reviews on the property were conducted by the state.
The two-story, wood-frame Colonial is near the corner of Marcus Avenue and New Hyde Park Road, where it was moved in 1952 from its original site at the southeast corner of Marcus Avenue and Lakeville Road. The Schumacher House is one of several historic homes on Long Island that are being restored for public use.
The house was acquired along with additional acreage between Marcus Avenue, Lakeville Road and Union Turnpike and in the Village of Lake Success by the Sperry Corp. in 1941.
The property came to be known as the Sperry Guest House, after the United Nations was established in 1945 and the first General Assembly began meeting nearby. The house also served as a school for the children of UN employees and delegates.
Sperry in 1952 needed the area for additional parking and sold the house to Fred Schumacher Jr., a member of a prominent local farming family, who moved it about a half-mile east.
It is listed on national and state historic registers.
Bosworth cited the home's "tenacity" in surviving the move, various town uses and bad weather. "It came through [Tropical Storm] Irene and superstorm Sandy, and it's a very important part of our history," Bosworth said.
The town is applying for additional grants to complete the renovation, which Bosworth estimated would cost another $1 million.
Marianna Wohlgemuth, a resident of New Hyde Park since 1982, said she thinks fundraising would help spur additional renovation. She recalled her children making crafts at the Schumacher house when it was used as a parks building.
"We have a commitment to restoring the house to its great beauty," Bosworth said.