Staten Island Neighborhood Profile: Ward Hill
During the early part of the nineteenth century, the Governor of the State of New York was Daniel D. Tompkins. At this time, over 600 acres of land on Staten Island were purchased by Tompkins. In 1816, Governor Tompkins decided to buy a steamboat which would transport residents across the water from Tompkinsville in Staten Island to Whitehall Street in Manhattan.
The Panic of 1819 resulted in many bank failures, which caused the banks to call in their loans. Tompkins had borrowed an extensive amount of money to pay for his steamboat service and used his land as collateral. Due to his inability to pay back the loans, his property was split up and put up for auction.
In 1825, Daniel D. Tompkins passed away. Many of his relatives, the majority being his children, decided to buy the land that had been auctioned off by the bank. Tompkins' nephew, Caleb T. Ward, had been very close to his uncle and was involved in much of his business. Due to this, he was very wealthy and, in 1826, he decided to buy 250 acres of what was once his uncle's land.
Part of the land Caleb T. Ward had purchased was on one of the hills in Staten Island. It was atop this hill that, by around 1835, he had architect George B. Davis build a mansion at 141 Nixon Avenue. Ward lived in the mansion until the end of his life in 1850. At this time, the mansion was passed down to his son, Albert Ward. In 1904, about twenty-five years after Albert's passing, Sally Lewis Wood Nixon acquired the mansion. In 1923, however, she sold it to the Ward Hill Realty Corporation who made many alterations to the home. On July 26, 1982, the mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places, after having become a New York City Landmark in 1978.
The Ward-Nixon House, or the Caleb T. Ward Mansion, is located on the northernmost hill on Staten Island. This hill was developed into its own neighborhood, known as Ward Hill, in honor of Caleb T. Ward. Throughout the community, you will find extravagant homes and spectacular views all around, including views of Manhattan and New York Harbor. Many stairways are also found in the area to get up or down streets, such as the 129-step stairway which goes from Tompkins Circle all the way down to Victory Boulevard.
Today, Ward Hill is one of the quite secrets in Staten Island's real estate market. It's on the most northern part of Staten Island's hill chain that includes Todt Hill, Emerson Hill, and Grymes Hill. Stately homes including Federal Style and Tudor Homes grace the hillside with majestic views. Again, some homes have an exposure plane that includes the Lower Manhattan skyline up the Hudson to the Brooklyn Bridge. That makes this hill on Staten Island the most unique. Little of the aesthetic nature of this community had changed in the last 50 years, with the exception of the Ward Hills Northwest section, which includes some new home construction.
The community of Ward Hill is served by several local buses. Along Victory Boulevard, you have the s46, the s61, the s62, and the s66. The s46 travels to the West Shore Plaza, while the s61 travels to the Staten Island Mall, the s62 travels to Travis, and the s66 travels to Port Richmond. All of the above buses leave the St. George Ferry Terminal to get to their destinations. On Cebra Avenue, you have the Staten Island University Hopital-bound s52, and on St. Paul's Avenue, you have the Bricktown Mall-bound s78. These buses come from the St. George Ferry Terminal, as well.
The schools in the area of Ward Hill.
The nearest public schools are P.S. 65, at 98 Grant Street; I.S. 61, at 445 Castleton Avenue; Ralph R. McKee Career and Technical High School, at 290 St. Mark's Place; and Curtis High School, at 105 Hamilton Avenue. The nearby Catholic schools are Out Lady of Good Council, at 42 Austin Place; Notre Dame Academy, at 78 Howard Avenue; the Immaculate Conception School, at 104 Gordon Street; Notre Dame Academy High School, at 134 Howard Avenue; and St. Peter's High School for Boys, at 200 Clinton Avenue. Other private schools in the area include Miraj Islamic School, at 307 Victory Boulevard, and Building Block Montessori School, at 55 Forest Avenue.