Signer of the Constitution Gunning Bedford Jr. (one of ten contemporary “Gunning Bed-fords,” to historians' confusion) bought 250 acres as a summer place in 1786, when he was thirty-nine. He first occupied the two-story side-hall stone house in 1792 and enlarged it to five bays, including the so-called downstairs Ballroom on the south. The name Lombardy Hall probably refers to a double row of poplar trees once planted before the door. An exceptional Adamesque chimney-piece was installed in 1820, eight years after Bedford's death here. Over the generations, the estate was whittled down, and a cemetery was created (1889), the dwelling serving as a morgue. Eventually, the crumbling house was occupied by vagrants. Emilio Capaldi purchased it in 1966 with hopes for restoration, but his death put an end to those plans. A new Masonic lodge created to serve the booming suburbs bought Lombardy Hall the next year as the only home of a colonial first Grand Master owned by a Masonic organization. Restored by 1986, the National Historic Landmark is occasionally open to the public.
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