Akerly Homestead

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Olmsted Farmhouse on Staten Island

The Poillon-Akerly-Omsted Farmhouse was a large farm and modest Dutch farmhouse on one of the higher hills overlooking Raritan Bay, and Sandy Hook in the distance on Staten Island purchased by Olmsted's father and given to Frederick Law Olmsted in 1848 to grow crops, plant trees and clear for pasture for livestock. The first owner of the property was Dominic Petrus Teaschenmaker who acquired a patent on the property from Governor Thomas Dongan on November 3, 1685. The property was acquired in the late 17th century (c. 1696) and he stone basement of the structure was enlarged into a Flemish Style farm house by Jacques Poillon, the Richmond County Road Commissioner under Governor Slaughter, and one of the original Huguenot settlers of Staten Island. By 1723, three generations of the Poillon family had lived in this farmhouse and during the Revolutionary War, John Poillon, a member of the Committee of Safety for Richmond County, helped bring about the famous, though ill-fated, Peace Conference at Bentley Manor in the Billopp House, now known as the Conference House.

Dr. Samuel Akerly (one of the founders of the New York Institute for the Blind) enlarged the farmhouse to thirteen rooms. Dr. Akerly wrote many essays on the use of farmland on Staten Island and revolutionized the uses of farming equipment and the rotations of crops. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of restoring the farmhouse back to the way Olmsted had it when he resided there.

Olmsted Farmhouse with porches in 1924

Olmsted had greatly improved the structure by adding a 1 12-story addition to the top of the house, with small windows on the top floor under the roof attic eaves. He also added porches on all three sides of the farmhouse, which have since been demolished. Olmsted used the property as a tree nursery and planted many unusual specimens of trees on his farm. In the photo you see one of the tremendous Cedar of Lebanon conifers. There are some Osage Orange trees not far from the property as well. The farm originally encompassed land across the main thoroughfare of Hylan Boulevard, between that road and the beach. After Olmsted sold the farm, it was from then on referred to as the Woods of Arden. The address is 4515 Hylan Boulevard, near Woods of Arden Road.

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Coordinates: 40°31′54.8″N 74°09′29″W / 40.531889°N 74.15806°W / 40.531889; -74.15806