Resident seeks landmark status for Bellmore home

Walter Eisenhardt Jr., of Bellmore, owns a Victorian Walter Eisenhardt Jr., of Bellmore, owns a Victorian house that is more than 100 years old, and he wants the house deemed a landmark by the Town of Hempstead. (Aug. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz

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Having spent almost seven years restoring his Victorian Bellmore home and researching the man who built it, Walter Eisenhardt is seeking again for the house to be landmarked by the Town of Hempstead.

The Martin Avenue home, easily distinguishable by its wraparound porch, was built by entrepreneur Charles Frisch around 1909. Frisch capitalized on New Yorkers traveling to what was known as High Hill Beach, on the east side of Zach's Bay, now part of Jones Beach State Park, according to Eisenhardt.

Eisenhardt applied to have his house landmarked in 2010 and was told he did not provide enough information for the house to be deemed a landmark, officials said. He reapplied in March, having more deeply researched the Frisch family history.

Clarence Anspake, president of the Historical Society of the Bellmores, said the house deserves landmark status based on its architecture and the history of the family that lived there.

Anspake said the Frisches were one of the first families in the area and helped shape the community.

"We have to show people that there are things that are really necessary to the community," he said. "Maybe this place would just be a swamp if those people hadn't lived here."

The town's seven-member Landmarks Preservation Commission will consider the application at a meeting on Sept. 17. In making a decision, members will review the special character, ambience, historical significance, aesthetic value and uniqueness of architectural design of the proposed landmark.

"The purpose of landmark designation hearings is to determine whether such a status is warranted based upon the evidence presented," said Cheryl Petri, town liaison to the commission.

Once established as a landmark, any changes including construction, repair or demolition, must be reviewed by the commission. If the house is deemed a landmark, Eisenhardt will be eligible for some town property tax reimbursements.

Eisenhardt, a Manhattan commercial real estate account manager, learned about the Frisch family history through old census records and clippings from a local newspaper that covered communities in the area.

"I want the town to recognize the family that lived here and the architectural value of this house to the community," Eisenhardt said. "I think we erase our past too quickly."

In the early 1900s, Frisch purchased the Clarkson Hotel, which was located at the intersection of Bellmore Avenue and Newbridge Road. He also contracted to build bungalows on High Hill Beach, where a hotel and casino were located.

Eisenhardt believes residents of New York City would come to Long Island, stay overnight at the Clarkson Hotel, then take the ferry to High Hill Beach where they could stay in his bungalows. High Hill Beach was dissolved by 1940, a little more than a decade after Jones Beach State Park opened. Some of the bungalows in the area were moved to Gilgo Beach while others were destroyed.

In 1930, Frisch sold the house on Martin Avenue. The new owners renovated the house in the 1970s, Eisenhardt said. Eisenhardt bought the house in 2007 and immediately began working to restore the Victorian to its original appearance.

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