• Improvements at the Humes Property

    Humes Formal Garden: Finishing touches are being made to one of the larger ongoing projects at Humes. Following the clearing of overgrowth and masonry repairs of the Innocenti & Webel designed formal garden and the refurbishment of the old tennis hut, planting is finally underway. In addition, the tennis court has been completely removed and is being converted into the visitor parking area, this time with a permeable bluestone surface! James Wellington of Innocenti & Webel was chosen as the landscape designer and has implemented a thoughtful and elegant plan. Arriving visitors will be greeted with an element of formality reminiscent of a country estate that wonderfully juxtaposes itself to the more natural elements of the adjacent meadow and woodlands. The formal garden and welcome hut complex will offer visitors a serene environment to enjoy a beautiful array of plants and shrubs, including boxwoods, holly, sedge, cypress, roses, azaleas and rhododendrons. Humes Flexes Its Muscles: The Land Alliance is excited to announce the creation of an outdoor fitness area at Humes. Thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor and fitness enthusiast, this area will be a unique amenity enhancing the Humes visitor experience. Following multiple site visits with the donor and local trainer Carl Wermee, a discrete location next to the woodland trail has been chosen. Strategically tucked away outside a wooded area, the five-station fitness nook will offer a diverse array of exercise options. The stations are a subtle combination of steel and wood that will blend in naturally with the surrounding habitat. Tennis Hut (Before) Tennis Hut (After)

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  • Meadows and Trails Update

    Since our 2019 Fall Conservation News newsletter update, the Suzanne and Carter Bales Quiet Meadow has started to look more meadow-like. After two years of clearing, rubbish removal and weed management, we seeded warm-season grasses and a small volume of wildflowers (along with winter rye), in the phase one area (3.5 acres) last November. The winter rye, an annual, has taken hold to help with soil stabilization and weed competition until natives can become established. The native grasses and wildflowers will come in more gradually. To add some color to the meadow this first summer and fall, we added more mature perennial wildflowers (aster, goldenrod, phlox, indigo and others) in a number of planting locations alongside the trail, thanks to a very generous donation from the North Country Garden Club. Phase 2 areas adding up to almost an acre are still undergoing clearing and weed management but are slated to be seeded this fall. One of the highlights of our winter work was the use of a forestry mower to tackle long-entrenched woody debris in these areas. Now steps made of river stone, accompanied by an array of grasses, shrubs and wildflowers have just been installed. We were VERY surprised and delighted to receive a gift to wildlife and the meadow from Land Alliance Treasurer Jonathan Moore: an enchanting bird box he built at home by reusing cedar boards, pineapple cans and other materials. Jonathan also installed the box, facing east, adding a very welcome dimension to the meadow. MANY thanks to you, Jonathan!! Conservation News readers viewed in our last issue a network of existing and proposed trails through a corridor of 150 acres of protected land in the Beaver Brook watershed. New woodland and meadow trails at Humes and the Frost Mill Connector Parcel connect to existing ones in Shu Swamp and Upper Francis Pond to complete a five-mile circuit. Our O’Neil Stewards and volunteers are taking on some of the trail installation, vine removal, weeding and monitoring (native and invasive) plant growth along the trails and in the meadow. Steps made of river stone

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  • Humes Property

    Experience the History of the Humes Preserve

    The Schmidlapp-Humes Estate, now known as the Humes Preserve, has a long history that dates to the Matinecock Indian tribe’s occupation of the area. It includes 17th century boundary disputes between the Dutch and English and milling and farming from the 18th to 20th centuries. Its transformation to a country estate began in the early 1920s, during the second wave of the Country Place Era. This was a time when wealthy New York City families sought a retreat from city living and commissioned prominent architects and landscape architects to create their country estates. Articles in The New York Times and The New-York Tribune document Carl J. Schmilapp’s real estate transactions from 1924 through 1927 that resulted in an 83-acre estate complete with buildings designed by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, gardens by Ellen Biddle Shipman and Vitale and Geiffert and two stocked trout ponds and trout streams. The oldest structures we see on the property today – Rumpus House and Tavern House – served as primary residences for the Schmidlapp and Humes families for nearly a century. The transition from a single country estate to two distinct family complexes began in 1952 when Frances and Carl Schmidlapp hired architect Alfred Shaknis to design a remodeling and expansion of the two-bedroom Tavern House (located on the west side of the property along Oyster Bay Road). A year, later Frances and Carl gave their youngest daughter Jean Schmidlapp-Humes three acres of land, the now four-bedroom cottage and a garage with parking court. In 1954, Jean hired Kasso and Luce to build a children’s playhouse where the remodeled tennis hut now stands. Two years later, with a fifth son on the way, Carl Schmidlapp sold two more acres of land to the Humeses, bringing their land holding to just under 6 acres. This transaction marked the beginning of the development of the Humes family compound. The building campaign they initiated under Alfred Shaknis and guided by Innocenti & Webel’s landscape design lasted from 1954 to 1962. Projects included a second-floor addition to the Tavern House, an expansion of the garage to accommodate guest quarters, a new garage and entrance drive, a tennis court and adjoining rose garden for Jean. They also included the creation of an entertainment area complete with a swimming pool, fountain, pool house and patio with a built-in barbeque that served as the centerpiece of the property. It was outdone only by the addition of a curved stairway that led to the wine cellar constructed below a new greenhouse with a fountain and potting shed. The last major landscape undertaking was John’s Japanese Stroll Garden which was inspired by his business travel to Japan and interest in Asian culture. After his purchase of a tea house in Japan in 1962, the Tavern House back yard and pond were transformed over the next three years into a stroll garden under the direction of Joni and Douglas Defaya. When the Humes Preserve officially opens to the public, a series of photographs depicting the property’s history will be housed in the former tennis hut. The exhibition will include aerial photographs, designs from Innocenti & Webel’s archives and images from what remains of the Humes family photo albums. The tennis hut/exhibition space was recently restored through a generous grant from the Paul and Maxine Frohring Foundation. Please stop by to learn more.

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