The Field Home...Then And Now
By Phillip Tomlinson, North County News, June 22 - 28, 1988, Bicentennial Section, 1788-1988
Imagine when owning 50 acres of land in Westchester County made you respectable, but poor!
That is now Benjamin Field saw it in 1887 when, as a memorial to his wife, he founded a facility for "the aged and respectable poor persons, born in the County of Westchester,' who themselves owned or were the descendants of those ho owned not less than 50 acres of land in Westchester County, with preference being given to the descendants of John Field.
Standing next to the home, until recent years when it was razed with expansion, was a square concrete tower that was visible from Route 202 for quite a distance between Peekskill and the Taconic Parkway.
When it was built, there was a huge windmill on top of the tower. It was used to pump water from artesian wells to a large eight-floor storage tank which supplied the entire Field Home.
On his death in 189, Field willed the home to his son, Cortlandt DePeyster Field, 'for his lifetime use,' hence the facility remained private and didn't open its doors to the first resident until 1929.
The younger Field and his wife, Virginia, were active in the Episcopal Church and offered the facility to Episcopal missionaries and priests for summer retreats.
St. Catherine Episcopal Church, built with the home, was used by the community for Sunday services and Sunday school.
During this time, all the food used at the Field Home was grown on the property.
During the Field's residence, the grounds were graced with such trees as pine, gingko, Japanese red maple, dogwood, shagbark hickory, linden, poplar, flowering crab apple and peach.
One resident of the Field Home, Hanna Redlefsen, now deceased, who lived in the facility from 1966 to 1983, wrote: "...The feeling of spaciousness impresses you as you enter the house into an uncluttered entrance hall, where comfortable chairs invite you to site down sand enjoy the homey atmosphere around you. Large windows with unobstructed views of the lawns and beautiful old trees on the grounds bring the outdoors almost inside."
Today, those large trees are gone. The land is occupied by the Holy Comforter Field Home, a separate building opened in August 1986. That facility, a healthcare, residential and nursing facility, houses 200 people.
Holy Comforter was formerly located on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, but moved to the present site, merging with the Field Home in order to expand.
Unlike the Field Home, which caters exclusively to women, the Holy Comforter houses both women and men.
When the younger Field died in 1918, the Field Home was left to an eight-member Board of Trustees to establish the long-held dream of the elder Field-a home for aged women.
The Board of Trustees donates its time and energies to see that the women have a home that meets their physical and emotional needs.
The facility is non-sectarian, made possible because the younger Field willed 90 percent of his estate to the Field Home and 10 percent to the Field Library in Peekskill.
Since the days of the Fields, the architecture of the building has changed somewhat, though its stately look is reminiscent of a landmark of another era.
Three large wings were added to the home: one to be used as a dining room, another as a living room, and a third to house offices and rooms for the director and a sick bay for residents. The home has 36 private rooms.
The majority of its residents have been professional women or housewives from the metropolitan and Westchester County area.
The facility has a small, intimate sitting room stocked with books, magazines and newspapers which keep the residents in contact with the outside world and makes a pleasant backdrop for visitors.
The large living room offers space for all community gatherings and festivities.
The dining room, with its traditional decor, is furnished with small tables where the residents gather for meals.
Redlefsen also wrote favorably about the intimacy of the private rooms: "If you wishes lean toward quiet occupations, the private rooms give you the opportunity to follow your own interests and inclinations. Each lady may furnish her own room to meet her needs and desires."
Source: North County News, June 22 - 28, 1988, Bicentennial Section, 1788-1988
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