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Marker for home of poet William Cullen Bryant

Nassau County and North Hempstead Town officials joined historians Wednesday in dedicating a historical roadside marker at Cedarmere, the former Roslyn Harbor home of William Cullen Bryant.

The sign identifies Cedarmere as the home of Bryant, “prominent American poet, newspaper editor and civic leader,” from 1843 to 1878.

Nassau County opened the house as a museum in 1994 in honor of the 200th anniversary of Bryant’s birth. It is closed for renovation but visitors are allowed to walk the grounds during the day.

Born in Massachusetts, Bryant was considered the foremost American poet of his day. He was a lawyer until he achieved international acclaim with his poem “Thanatopsis” in 1817. In 1825, he became editor of the New York Review and moved to the city. The following year he joined the New York Evening Post. He became editor-in-chief and part owner in 1829 and remained so until his death in 1878.

Cedarmere started out as a farmhouse built by Quaker Richard Kirk in 1787. Bryant purchased the estate in 1843 as a country retreat and gave it a name. He added Victorian gardens with the aid of leading landscape architects including Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park. In the 1840s, Bryant led a movement to establish a New York City park, which eventually led to creation of Central Park. Cedarmere was visited regularly by famous writers, artists and political leaders.

Bryant is buried next to his wife, Frances Fairchild, in Roslyn Cemetery. A descendant, Elizabeth Godwin, bequeathed the home and property and a $100,000 trust fund to the county in 1975.

 

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