Friday, March 27, 2009

Aubrey G Hutcheson

One of the purposes of this blog is to provide a sense of what West Hempstead used to look like 100 years ago. Though most people wouldn't know it, there's a good chance that what is now a dilapidated gas station or a nail salon was once the site of a wealthy merchant's country estate (see previous post). Such is the case with the estate of Aubrey G. Hutcheson, located at what is now commonly known as the presidential section - a property that stretches from Nassau Blvd to the west to Hempstead Ave to the east, and from Walnut St north down to McKinley St to the south. A G Hutcheson made a fortune as an importer of fruit from the West Indies, whose firm, according to Peter Ross' History of Long Island, was the largest of any such business in NYC at the time.

In 1890, he purchased a large farm in WH from Alanson Abrams, a prominent Hempsteader who went on to become TOH Receiver of Taxes. Thereupon he built the magnificent home you see pictured below (taken from the book linked above).

About this home, Peter Ross writes:

His home at Hempstead is one of the finest residences in that pretty little town, the grounds being beautifully laid out and adorned with ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers. Everything about the place testifies to the culture and fine tastes of the owner, and while there are many indications of wealth, there is nothing of display in this beautiful and attractive home. In 1910, Hutcheson sold his 99 1/2 acre farm and the property then was platted and developed as the presidential section, after the 'presidential' names of its streets. Hutcheson later retired to the Bahamas, but his legacy in WH still lives on in two buildings now located across Hempstead Ave. from where his old house once stood. Hutcheson had nine children, two of whom, Ralph E and Howard B Hutcheson, built the twin houses now occupied by China Connection and Congregation Anshei Shalom. Their stories will be the subject of another post.

To line up the 'now' shot, I had to resort to the E. Belcher Hyde map of 1906 (which incorrectly labeled our subject as 'A. Hutchinson'). The house appears just below center -

From the position of his house relative to Hempstead Ave. just north of the corner of Locust St., the picture below approximates the location.

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