Photos on this page copyright ©2010 Ronald G. Taylor - All rights reserved.
No, it's really not MY Belvidere....but, in the heart, it belongs to all of us in Allegany County, NY. Having just completed my 4 hour visit to Villa Belvidere, I now have accomplished another of my life-long dreams which has gnawed at my mind for so long...to see the beautiful property from the inside rather than driving by and wishing. Since I was a kid and my parents drove me by the "Belvidere Farms" and my Mom told me about a Great Grandfather who had worked at the farms and been "gored" by a bull, I have always desired to see the property he helped work. Now, as I have achieved my 70 years, I can relish the memory of visiting the "heart of Allegany County".
As the historian, John Minard, wrote the story of the Villa, so do his words become the reliance we have to prove the history. Whether all the facts are facts or the stories are just that....stories, remains to be seen. I am a believer....and there are so many stories in 200 years! These are the things I want to see preserved and passed along to the younger and future generations about Allegany County.
Thanks to the Bromeley family and to the Angelica Booster Citizens, the birthday tour of grounds and buildings has taken place in the 200th year honoring the building completion. Rather quietly, 200 tickets was announced as a maximum number to be allowed sold for visiting the property in order to keep sanctity of the private home which many enjoy within the family. There was not a lack of people, respectfully and quietly, asking questions here-and-there, viewing, and appreciating the art of what was formed from locally quarried rock and "on-the-property" manufactured brick.
Originally built by the Church family starting in 1806 and truly not completed until many years later because of additions to the original plans, the Main House property is celebrated as having had occupancy for the first time in 1810 giving two centuries of grandeur to the families who have lived quietly on the shores of the twisting Genesee River at Belvidere, Allegany County, NY.
Belvidere has never grown to huge prominence within the world of economics, politics or leadership, but has viewed much of all of these through her years.....from founders of our nation having visited at the mansion from time-to-time, to famous and historical figures placing their stamp by association in some manner. Quietly, the arms of the riverside mansion have welcomed the stories of the Indians nearby in early times to protect Mrs Church while husband was away,
stories of "the pistols" one-time housed in a desk on the property, pistols used in duels involving Hamilton, Burr & John Barker Church, to more recent visits such as Robert Kennedy and other notables stopping by...quietly.
Although agricultural use of the land over the 200 years has been prominent at the estate a smaller scale is practiced in farming today, although a beautiful meadow and growing field is close to the main house. Instead, the main use of the estate today is the family enjoyment by the owners.
The Estate is just that....private property....a home and not a museum, although listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972. Going through the property was by family invitation to go through their home, and thanks go to them for opening the home to us.
Quiet. That is the one word to describe the reverence you feel as you walk on the grounds and admire the handiwork of caretakers and residents, past & present, in the gardens, under the huge trees on the grounds, and the buildings with their blend into the natural surroundings....almost like walking through Mount Vernon of the Washington home. Walking quiet. That's how you feel. I met many faces I knew from around the county as I walked, but, everyone looked and saw their own attachment to the quiet and the grandness of something beyond the turmoil of today....a quiet elegance of our
country and our history.
Built and remaining in the ownership of the Church family until a financial reversal in 1892 caused Major Richard Church to part with the property, only 3 other families have owned the land....F. B. Kenney until 1901, S. Hoxie Clark until 1947 and then Mr. & Mrs. Robert B. Bromeley purchased. Mrs. Bromeley recently visited the property at her 100th birthday and currently is 103!!
The greeting hostess and oldest granddaughter of Robert & Marian Bromeley met us at the end door of the "Main House", relating some of the background history of the property. The Bromeley family now has many houses inside the estate property gate which first greets you at the entrance off the county road, shared by the children and grandchildren of Mr & Mrs. Bromeley. Many of the family served as tour guides and story-tellers and sounded extremely pleased that "so many" people showed up for the visit.
The useful herb garden and the beautifully maintained flowers of the grounds were in full bloom surrounding the pathways to the gazebo in the center...which ended my tour of the day.
Thank you to all the visitors for their respect shown during the event to the owners and the property....thank you Angelica Boosters for honoring me by letting me partake...and thank you to the whole Bromeley family for opening up your home to us once more.
Happy Birthday again, Belvidere, and many more!!!