Community News

Bedell House is razed

Former W.H. homestead demolished by county, to preservationists’ dismay


The Bedell House, a historic settlement that was built in West Hempstead and transplanted to Old Bethpage Village Restoration three decades ago, was demolished by Nassau County workers last week despite local preservationists’ efforts to conserve the dilapidated structure.

The county, which razed the structure on March 24, initially planned to restore the 18th-century, colonial-style homestead when it was moved to Old Bethpage in 1982, but officials said that its unsafe conditions and decaying foundation ultimately moved them to condemn it.

Dating back to at least 1743, the homestead was built on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike in West Hempstead, just west of Mayfair Avenue. In 1833, the property was bought for $1,550 by local farmer Hiram K. Bedell, who expanded its 30 acres to include more farmland and housing.

Among some of the amenities at the Bedell House were white pine shingles, blue-green glass windows, two fireplaces and a combination kitchen/dining room/living room.

Carl and Lena Otto, who had owned the homestead since 1918, donated the property to the Restoration in their old age so that the county could preserve it. But according to Mary Studdert, spokeswoman for the Nassau County Parks Department, architects from the county’s Public Works Department recommended in 2008 that the building be demolished due to its unsound infrastructure and significant insect and water damage.

After the demolition, Studdert said that some artifacts had been salvaged, including period moldings and mantelpieces and an ornate entryway.

Lesley McAvoy, member of the West Hempstead Historical Society, said that even though plenty of local people wanted to help preserve the Bedell House, whether by donating time, money or manpower, it was difficult to cut through the red tape in order to save what McAvoy described as a “historical and architectural treasure.”

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