When I began my column for the Bellmore Patch in January 2010, I had received emails from readers expressing their interest in my articles and even sharing their own stories with me. One Bellmore resident, Walter Eisenhardt Jr., contacted me about the historic value of his home. His 100-year-old Victorian house on Martin Avenue brought me great interest. I also found his personal story inspiring. It can teach all of us a lesson in love and how the past can provide a happier future.
Five years ago he moved back to Bellmore and is currently working for the “New York Times” within the fashion section of the magazine. Having loved Queens so much you wonder what brought him back out to Bellmore. This is when his world turned upside down. After a twist of bad fate and a love gone wrong, Walter was embroiled in a bitter divorce and custody battle.
He lives on Martin Avenue in a home that has been standing for over a century. Loving all that is vintage, he fell in love with the house the minute he laid eyes on it. Growing up in a house just like it he knew it was the place he wanted to raise his son. After a short bidding war with another buyer he won the property and got to work. Being the house was so old it needed a lot of it!
Born in Rockville Centre, Walter was a part of a hard working family. Having owned Eisenhardt’s Prime Meats for 70 years proves how a family can keep its roots alive. Handed off to new generations, the German butcher shop was successful in Long Island until the 1970s when his father retired. He grew up in the Bellmore-Merrick area but in his 20s he moved to Queens where he lived in Richmond Hill and Forest Hills in some of their historic buildings.
Right: the original yellow rose bush remains on the property
However, Walter’s plan wasn’t to remodel or change the character of the architecture. His vision of the original house inspired him to restore the home back to its roots and allow it to shine as it once did. Upon my visit to the home, I was taken back by how amazing it all looked. Honestly, it was like stepping back in time. Unbelievable.
From the outside, the wrap around porch gives the home a sense of warmth while the flowers on the side give it life. Here you will find peonies and azaleas to name a few. You will also find the oldest plant on the property. The yellow rose bush is actually original to the home and has been nursed to what it is today.
As you walk to the garage in the back you notice an odd thing sticking out of the driveway. This would be the handle to get to the oil tank, which were metal back in the day. You can still appreciate the original brick floor of the garage and the memorabilia left by the last owner who unfortunately passed away due to cancer.
Original brick floor of garage & memories left from the last owner
As he gave me the tour, Walter told me stories about the past owner and pointed out unique elements that would help me understand the home’s antiquity. I was there almost three hours so you can imagine how great the conversation was. I learned so much about Victorian architecture as well as some of Bellmore’s history.
Being the vintage addict I am, it was very hard not to get excited about the furniture and items Walter had accumulated over time. From one collector to the next, this man knows his antiques! Everything is period correct and in beautiful condition which is something that should not go unnoticed. Especially the Robert Findlay chandelier and rare Fenton glass!
Keeping as many original elements to the house as he could there was still much to be done. As he stripped away the walls, there were great amounts of hand drawn wallpaper that peeked through the layers of wood paneling. The mahogany banister was restored to its beautiful self and a couple of ceiling lights that are true to the house are still in use.
Robert Findlay chandelier and Fenton glass
One of my favorite areas of the home was the fireplace. It had the original wiring and speakers to play the AM radio that was used during war times. The sound has never changed! There is also a work station in the basement from the previous owner that is still useable. Another favorite area of mine.
Attic and basement work station
Hidden gems are sometimes more precious than the ones that stand out. This home has been standing since the 1900s and the land it sits on is very historic to Bellmore. Back then it was called Crescent Lawn and was vast farmland. As the years passed, the owner split the land up into plots and sold it off to the town.
Many houses sit on this historic land today, but only one tells the story of a family who dealt with loss as well as Walter’s story of strength, love and inspiration. Every home has a tale to tell. We must be open to listen and welcome them into our hearts. For Walter, having his home be appreciated for its vintage appeal, historic importance and stunning restoration would mean the world. Not to mention, showcasing the happy home he created for him and his son.