GovernmentThe Examiner

Westchester County Approves Restoration of Historic Farmhouse

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By Sam Barron

A historic farmhouse in Bedford and Mount Kisco is getting a mini-makeover.

The Westchester County Board of Legislators approved $400,000 in financing last week for a design for the restoration of the Farm House at Merestead Park. The 19th century farmhouse, located on 130 acres, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The county has had ownership of the property since 2002.

Legislator Kitley Covill (D-Katonah), who has been a major advocate for maintaining Merestead, cheered the deal.

“It is important that we properly care for and preserve the historic buildings entrusted to us,” Covill said “The restored Farm House will not only give future visitors a window into our past, but also stand as a symbol of good county stewardship of our history.”

Assemblyman Chris Burdick (D-Bedford) said he plans to request the release of $250,000 in state grant money to assist with the restoration.

Margaret Sloane Patterson and her husband Robert willed the property to the county for use as a park in 1981, and the county took ownership after Sloane Patterson died in 2001. The property also includes a 28-room mansion built in 1907. At the time, the Patterson’s donation was the largest in county history.

The county was also given the couple’s art collection and a collection of autographs from almost every former American President, with the notable exception of Warren G. Harding, since Sloane Patterson’s mother wouldn’t have him in the house, according to an interview she gave when she donated the property. The Pattersons also had autographs from Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson and a letter from Eugene O’Neill.

The couple also provided the county with a $4.1 million endowment to ensure the property was maintained.

The county has tried various ways to use the property since taking ownership, including using it as a performance space for Copeland House, according to Bedford Town Historian John Stockbridge, a longtime proponent of Merestead.

“It just didn’t pan out too well,” Stockbridge said. “They weren’t getting much use out of the property and it was declining.”

The farmhouse eventually became inhospitable as it continued to deteriorate, Stockbridge said. The county had already approved $4 million in 2019 to restore the exterior of the main mansion.

Stockbridge said the property offers some of the best views in the county.

“You really oughta see it,” Stockbridge said. “At the top of the hill you can look across the whole Hudson River Valley. It’s really an incredible property. It offers one of the classic views of Bedford.”

The town historian said he is hopeful this new financing will lead to a more positive future for Merestead.

“I want to see if the county can follow through and see if we can get it into this place where we can use it and enjoy it,” Stockbridge said.

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