Restoration work on a historic farmhouse in New Hyde Park is underway after more than a decade of preparation.
The Town of North Hempstead hired Bay Shore-based WGP Contracting for the first phase of restoring the Schumacher House, which was built in the 1700s.
WGP has replaced the siding, rebuilt the brick chimneys, added copper gutters, installed a new cedar wood roof, removed asbestos and cleared debris. The home had suffered substantial water damage, and it will need a year to dry out before the second phase of restoration, officials said.
There is no set date for when the Schumacher renovation will be complete, officials said. The town has spent $461,787.20 on the restoration.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the house will likely become a museum and public meeting space.
“We don’t want it to be just something to look at,” she said. “We really want it to be something that has meaning in our present-day life as a reminder of what life was like back in the 1700s.”
The Schumacher House was built in the early 1700s in Lake Success and belonged to the Cornell family, for whom the university is named. Electronics company Sperry Corp. owned the property and used it as a guesthouse from 1941 to 1947. In 1952, Sperry sold the house to Fred Schumacher Jr., who moved it to its current location behind Clinton G. Martin Park.
North Hempstead officials designated the house as a local landmark in 2005 as a way to start historic preservation. In August 2007, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
There are clear signs of aging and neglect, said WGP owner Bill Proefriedt.
“The entire roof was gone,” he said. “There was no roof when we got there. Water was just pouring right out. All the plaster had come down on to the floor and rotted out the floor.”
Victor Thomas, deputy commissioner for the town’s Public Works Department, said WGP’s work focused on making the home structurally stable for someone to go inside and start further restoration work. The next step is “to attack the exterior” and install new windows, shutters, and doors, he said.
“The idea is to get the exterior as attractive as possible, make it look nice again, and then attack the interior and figure out really what the house is going to be,” Thomas said.
The final restoration phase is to include adding new plasterboard and floors, as well as restoring the electric and plumbing services, he said.
Town Councilwoman Lee R. Seeman, whose district includes New Hyde Park, said WGP’s recent work “is a step in the right direction.” She said she hopes the Schumacher House will be “an educational tool for future generations.”
The town is to be reimbursed for its expenses, from a $500,000 state grant that it won in 2014.
It all started in the 1700s
The Schumacher House history:
Early 1700s. The Schumacher House is built in Lake Success as the Cornell-Van Nostrand House and owned by the Cornell family
1941-1947. The home is used as a guest house by its new owner, the Sperry Corporation
1952: Sperry sells the building to Fred Schumacher Jr.
1990: The house is closed by its new owner, the Town of North Hempstead, because of deterioration
2005: It is designated a local landmark by the town
2014: The town is awarded a state grant to begin restoration work
2017: Restoration starts