Staten Island Neighborhood Profile: Grymes Hill
Of the several hills in Staten Island, Grymes Hill is the second highest, reaching 310 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Ward Hill, Sunnyside, Emerson Hill, Concord, Stapleton, Stapleton Heights, and Silver Lake. Many of the early homes in the area were built by Major Charles Howard. Howard Avenue, a main street on Grymes Hill, honors Major Howard.
In 1836, Madame Suzette Grymes, who had been married to a prominent New Orleans judge, bought the hill from its prior resident, Major George Howard, who had purchased the hill in 1830. Upon the hill, Mrs. Grymes built Capo di Monte, which translates to "Top of the Mountain." This mansion was the first of many built atop the hill. The largest estate on Grymes Hill was Hormann Castle, which was built in 1891 and demolished in 1968.
In 1851, Sir Edward Cunard, manager of the British-American Cunard Line, built his mansion on Grymes Hill. About a decade later, another mansion was built, the home of General William Greene Ward. In 1918, Wagner College moved from Rochester, New York to Staten Island, New York. Both the Cunard and the Ward mansions were purchased and are currently used as buildings for the college. It is located at 1 Campus Road.
In 1899, Our Lady of Good Council, a Roman Catholic Church, was established on the hill. While it is the only house of worship on the hill, there are several others within walking distance. While there are mostly homes and no stores on Grymes Hill, there are a few schools located in the neighborhood. There is P.S. 35, at 60 Foot Avenue; Notre Dame Elementary Academy, at 78 Howard Avenue; Notre Dame Academy High School, at 134 Howard Avenue; St. John's University, at 300 Howard Avenue; and Our Lady of Good Council School, at 42 Austin Place.
In 1908, another mansion was built for Louis A. Stirn, a silk importer. In 2006, forty-four years after Stirn's death, the house became a New York City Landmark. Two years later, Gina Biancardi and Luciano Rammaironi purchased the mansion and turned it into an Italian culture center. Here, the Italian language is taught to people of all ages. It also gives cooking lessons, has book signings, wine tasting, and more. Italian-oriented art exhibits and other items are on display here, as well.
During the first years of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had remained neutral. The sinking of several ships of the United States by Germany, however, changed his view and Wilson declared war against them in 1917. Over 2.8 million Americans were drafted into the war, which ended one year later in November of 1918. Many men from Staten Island were drafted into the war.
During the 19th century, philanthropist Dr. Louis A. Dreyfus and his wife were well-known for donated much money and land to Staten Island. In 1920, they donated 1.9 acres of land to the City of New York. The property, bounded by Victory Boulevard, Howard Avenue, and Louis Avenue, was converted into a park and dedicated in May of 1920. In the park, which was named Hero Park, 144 blue spruce trees were planted in honor of the men from Staten Island, who had died in World War I. At the roots of each tree, tablets were fixed onto concrete. Each tablet gave the name, military rank, age, and place of death for the 144 Staten Islanders that had given their lives during the war.
Today, Grymes Hill represents one of Staten Island more notable luxury home areas. Being one of the more established neighborhoods on Staten Island, the architectural nature of the homes built here is quite different than many of State Island's luxury home communities. From Italianate Style homes to and the unique Spanish Colonial Revival not seen in many communities in Staten Island, most homes embody early 20th century European architecture. With Grymes Hill featuring lush landscapes and absolutely stunning panoramic views that span from New York Harbor across Raritan Bay to the Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey, it has the core features most luxury real estate personifies. In recent decades more modern homes have been spot developed among the landscape of older homes. However, developers are faced with limited zoning and strict New York City Hillside preservation laws that would restrict most wide-ranging new construction development proposals.
There are a few buses, which make stops in Grymes Hill to get to their destinations. On Victory Boulevard, you have the s61, s62, and s66, which all travel from the St. George Terminal. The s61 goes to the Staten Island Mall, while the s62 travels to Travis and the s66 travels to Port Richmond. The s53, which comes from the Port Richmond Bus Terminal, travels along Clove Road to get to Port Richmond. The s93 travels along Victory Boulevard to get from the College of Staten Island to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. In addition to the local buses, there are two express buses, which will take you into Manhattan. The x30, which travels along Forest Avenue, will take you to Midtown Manhattan, while the x14, which travels along Clove Road, will take you to West Midtown.