Staten Island is rich with history that dates back over 10,000 years. Over the course of time, there have been several homes with historical significance to the area and those who have lived here. Nowadays, these homes are historical museums, which offer visitors the opportunity to learn more about the neighborhood and culture of the residents of the past.
Below are five of the most historic Staten Island homes turned museums.
Alice Austen House – Rosebank
The Alice Austen House dates back to its construction in the 1600’s. Originally a Dutch farmhouse, the property began to decline in quality, and in the mid 1800’s was purchased by New York City merchant, John Haggerty Austen. The property was restored over time, recapturing its essence and named the Clear Comfort. Shortly after the homes completion, the Austen’s eldest daughter moved into the home, after her husband fled because of her pregnancy.
The daughter of John Austen gave birth to a daughter of her own, Alice Austen. Alice lived at the Clear Comfort as the only child amongst several adults, which allowed her to be the center of attention to many. Growing up, Alice was a very accomplished photographer. She would take her camera equipment all over Staten Island, snapping photos of various leisurely activities.
Nowadays, the museum that was once the Clear Comfort is now known as the Alice Austen House. It houses several exhibits showcasing the late photographer's work. The Alice Austen House is known for its freedom of expression and educates visitors through the use of photographic interpretation.
Garibaldi-Meucci Museum – Rosebank
Also located in Rosebank is the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum. The museum was once the home of inventor Antonio Meucci, who was responsible for the creation of a voice-communication device often credited as the telephone. The home was also a place of refuge for Giuseppe Garibaldi, a widespread hero known for his part in the unification of Italy.
For over 50 years, the home has been open to the public as a museum. Its purpose is to educate visitors on the Italian-American heritage by way of cultural, artistic, and educational classes. In addition, the museum strives to preserve the legacies of both men within the home.
The Seguine Mansion was constructed in the 1800’s by Joseph H. Seguine and is one of the last remaining examples of life during the 19th Century. Joseph Seguine passed away 18 years after construction of the building and as a result, several years later the family had to sell the home and plot. In the early 1900’s the home was repurchased by his family and remained in their control until the early 1980’s.
The home was sold to George Burke, who restored the otherwise dilapidated building and returned it to its former glory. Burke donated the building to the city of New York in 1989. The mansion is now a member of the Historic House Trust.
The mansion nowadays takes visitors on tours to view its historical significance. There is an equestrian center available, which offers children and adults riding lessons. In addition the center offers boarding options for those who own horses.
Historic Richmond Town – Richmondtown
Historic Richmond Town is located near the heart of Staten Island and is a multi-building museum community. Residents of Staten Island in the 1930’s strove to protect the history of the area. Richmondtown’s
history actually dates back as far as the 1600’s with original buildings still standing tall today. There are over 30 buildings within Historic Richmond Town all of which contain historical artifacts, photos, and archives.
Nowadays, Historic Richmond Town takes visitors on daily tours of the area. Workers will emulate life in the 19th Century as you explore the grounds learning all sorts of fantastic information about Historic Richmond Town.
Conference House – Totenville
The Conference House was constructed in the late 1600’s by Christopher Billop as the crown jewel of the Manor of Bentley. The house received its name after a peace conference was held on September 11, 1776 in an attempt to put a halt to the American Revolutionary War.
The home was open to the public in 1937 and holds the distinction of being the first house museum on Staten Island. Today, the home is used for tours, events, and educational programs. Tours provide excellent insight into the historical events involving the Conference House, as well as the 1776 Peace Conference.
The Conference House is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City and is a New York City landmark.