36 Main St, Roslyn, NY, 11576

Cedarmere

Address225 Bryant Avenue, Roslyn Harbor

Date Built1787
Original UseResidence
Restoration StatusCompleted Restoration Date2005
Roslyn Landmark Society Covenant No
View House Tour Details 2005
National Register of Historic Places

Cedarmere- Black & White

Best known at the home of the prominent 19th century poet and newspaper editor, William Cullen Bryant, Cedarmere was one of the oldest houses in Roslyn Harbor when Bryant purchased it in 1843. Richard Kirk, a Quaker farmer who also ran a fulling mill on the property, constructed the original section of the building in 1787. Described as being particularly well-built, the Kirk house was a two-and-a-half story frame structure with an attic, basement and adjoining kitchen dependency. The house featured a Georgian plan with a central hall flanked by two rooms on each side. The wood-shingled gambrel roof had a wide overhang on all four sides of the building, causing one subsequent homeowner to nickname the house "the brown hat."

By the 1830s, William Hicks, the Hempstead Harbor postmaster, had acquired the Kirk property. Several months later, a happenstance visit led William Hicks to sell the property to Joseph Moulton, a New York City attorney and amateur historian. After becoming lost as they were traveling through Hempstead Harbor, Moulton and his wife stopped to ask directions at Hicks's house. As it was getting late, Mr. Hicks, noting that Mrs. Moulton was looking tired, invited the couple to "tarry with us tonight and get a fresh start in the morning." The Moultons were so taken with the house and its site overlooking the harbor, they purchased it from Hicks in September 1834. The Moultons made the first major changes to the house, adding a large colonnade on three sides of the house. Square columns supported a heavy Greek Revival cornice. After abandoning his scheme to establish a planned community called Montrose on the property, Moulton sold the house and adjoining forty acres to William Cullen Bryant in 1843.

Over the next thirty-five years of ownership, Bryant made several changes to the property. In 1856, he remodeled the kitchen wing, creating servants' quarters on the second floor above the kitchen. From 1860-67, Bryant made the most extensive changes at Cedarmere, hiring a "troop of carpenters" to totally remodel the house. Bryant added a third story and attic topped with a gambrel roof and three gambrel-roofed dormers on each side. Graceful lattice-work columns supported covered verandas on the south, east and north sides, replacing Mr. Moulton's piazza. In order to capitalize on his view of the harbor, Bryant placed bay windows on the first floor rooms along the south and west sides. He also installed a hot-air central heating system. To the east of the kitchen,Bryant added a carriage-way with a storeroom above and a three story, gambrel-roofed pear tower. The entire house was painted cream with contrasting accents of brown. In 1874, Bryant engaged Thomas Wisedell, a talented English architect working for Calvert Vaux to upgrade Cedarmere's plumbing system.

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