A mansion between 166th Street and McClellan Street on the Grand Concourse, The Andrew Freedman Home was more interesting than I would have imagined. On several occasions I passed by this beautifully aged palace gated by a black iron fence and I thought it was some sort of landmark or museum. Given my appreciation of history, I often told myself to do a little research on this unlikely palace on the Concourse but never actually got around to doing it. Today, I had the opportunity to visit the home with my seven year old son and his school and learn a little about it.
The Andrew Freedman Home was the idea of millionaire Andrew Freedman who wanted to be charitable by building a home for those individuals who had lost their fortunes. This home for the formerly wealthy had all the commodities needed for its residents to continue their rich lifestyles even if that was no longer the case. Walking through this magnificent structure built in 1924 gave me a nostalgic glimpse of the past with the art exhibit “This Side of Paradise” merging the vision of past, present and future into the now. Through different mediums the artists used each room to convey a message inspired by the history of the the Andrew Freedman Home and the context of the community it stands upon.
No Longer Empty makes this art and history experience enjoyable for everyone with hands on activities for the little ones directed by the Bronx Children’s Museum along with guided tours, panel discussions and performances. Each room has a way to engage its audience regardless of age, whether by its historical connotation, multimedia usage or the use of unconventional mediums such as jelly beans and other sweets to create a pattern that remarkably resembles a wall paper design that could have once decorated the walls.
If you have not yet experienced this hidden treasure of The Bronx be sure to make time, whether for a family outing or an art inspired date (you can always follow it by visiting one of the many Bronx restaurants), This Side of Paradise will run until June 5, 2012. For more information on the Andrew Freedman Home contact the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council by email at firstname.lastname@example.org