We are working to protect, preserve, and present the Olmsted-Beil House historic site.
Credit: Adriano Chinellato
This historic site is an officially designated New York City park, Olmsted-Beil House Park, in Eltingville on the south shore of Staten Island, NY. It has borne witness to a broad swath of history and been home to many residents. The house on the site, now known as the Olmsted-Beil House, is named after its most prominent owner, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Carlton and Louise Beil, the last private owners of the home, whose wish it was for the house to become part of the New York City parks system. The oldest part of the house dates to the 1680s, when Dominie Petrus Tesschenmaker, a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church, built a simple stone dwelling on the land. It was owned over the years and expanded upon by several notable Staten Island families, including the Poillons and Akerlys.
The property was the site of many important landscape “experiments” by Olmsted: creation of winding paths; planting of trees not native to the Northeast (Osage oranges and cedars of Lebanon, for example); and construction of pleasing decorative features such as ponds. These explorations would later be incorporated to lasting acclaim in the design of Central Park and many other Olmsted and Vaux projects. During Olmsted’s time at the property on Staten Island, he also ran a successful farm operation, including growing prize-winning pears.
In 1967, the house was declared a New York City Landmark, one of the first structures, along with Grand Central Terminal, to be accorded such important recognition after the Landmark Law was passed in 1965. The site is now owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and the house is listed on both the New York State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.