BY JOE SCOTCHIE
Things have been stirring lately for William Cullen Bryant, the famed poet and editor, who for years, called Roslyn home. In 2012, the Roslyn Viaduct was renamed in his honor. The next year, a plaque was placed outside of Cedarmere, his Roslyn Harbor estate. Now, a book in the popular Images of America series is being published on that same estate. William Cullen Bryant’s Cedarmere Estate is the sixth book published by Harrison Hunt, who wrote the book in collaboration with his wife, Linda. The book is Ms. Hunt’s first published effort.
Cedarmere Estate is being brought out by Arcadia Publishing, which has published thousands of titles on books about famous towns and places all across America. When the editors at Arcadia wanted a book published on Cedarmere, they contacted Friends of Cedarmere, a group of civic-minded citizens intent on restoration work at the estates. The people at Friends of Cedarmere, in turn, contacted Hunt, a longtime Roslyn resident and former senior curator for history for the Nassau County Department of Parks, and obviously, the right man for the job.
“This book is not a biography of Bryant,” Hunt told The Roslyn News. “It is a look at his estate.”
Hunt said that the book has a total of 212 images, many of which have never been printed before. The focus of the book is on the house itself, but also the 170-acre estate, which Bryant cultivated during his time in Roslyn. Bryant purchased Cedarmere in 1843, when this native of Massachusetts was still living and working in Manhattan as editor of The New York Evening Post. However, Bryant did not commute to Manhattan year round. He still maintained a rented house in the city, where he lived in the winter months of January, February and March. In time, he purchased a brownstone on West 16th Street, while maintaining the Cedarmere estates.
Bryant stayed at both Cedarmere and The Post until his death in 1878. Hunt said that Bryant also called Cedarmere his “primary home” and his legacy was one of careful landscaping, monuments that still stand today. That landscaping included planting trees and making walking trails. Bryant, Hunt said, also liked to construct benches where he could sit in the woods and view Hempstead Harbor. On the Cedarmere grounds, Bryant planted fruit orchards and a formal flower garden that is currently being re-created, a garden that greets visitors arriving by the gravel road to the estate’s front entrance.
“People can see what it looked like [in the 19th century],” Hunt said of his latest writing project.
Renovation on Cedarmere includes the completion of the front porch, courtesy of a New York State grant given to Nassau County. However, Cedarmere is not open as a museum yet, a goal that so far has eluded Hunt and other preservationists. From 1994 to 2008, Hunt served as supervisor of the restoration efforts at Cedarmere. In Roslyn, Hunt served on the Historic District Board and as president of the Roslyn Landmark Society. Along with Linda Hunt, Harrison Hunt is one of the founders of Friends of Cedarmere. Hunt was the first president of the organization, while Linda Hunt served as the first treasurer.
William Cullen Bryant’s Cedarmere Estate is set for a Monday, March 28 publication date. Arcadia Publishing is in Mount Pleasant, SC. Call 843-853-2070.
On Wednesday, April 6, from 7 to 9 p.m., the authors will make a triumphant return to Roslyn as they will give a talk and book signing at Trinity Episcopal, 1579 Northern Blvd.