Lemon Creek Park, Staten Island NYPosted by Anthony Licciardello on Monday, April 16th, 2012 at 6:11am.
Staten Island’s history has much to do with the history of France. In 1685, King Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had, until then, given Protestants basic civil rights amongst their fellow citizens. Once this edict was revoked, many of these people, Huguenots as they were called, fled to New Netherland. Here, many resided on what is now Staten Island. By the early eighteenth century, one of these settlers was a James Sigin, who resided here with his family. His descendants were to become some of the most prominent Staten Islanders of their time.
By the end of the century, James Sigin’s grandson, James Segoin, purchased a vast amount of land by the waterfront, which had a creek that ran through it. This Segoin’s grandson, Joseph Seguine, inherited the land and, by 1830, the creek became known as Seguine’s Creek. By 1895, the name was changed to Little North River, and eventually, for reasons unknown, it became known as Lemon Creek. It was on this land that Joseph Seguine built the famous Seguine Mansion, a historic Greek Revival-style house which still stands today.
In 1962, 75.7 acres of land were transferred from the City of New York to the New York Department of Parks and Recreation to be used as a park. This area of land, which was between the streets of Bayview Avenue on the west and Seguine Avenue on the east, included much of Lemon Creek. The park, in turn, came to be known as Lemon Creek Park. During the early 1980s, 4.8 acres of land were added to the park. This wouldn’t be the last time land would be acquired for the park, though.
The Seguine Mansion stayed in the family for over a century. For most of the twentieth century, it was occupied by Elizabeth Seguine and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Belle. While the two girls were still children, they would often ride horses in their “yard” with their neighbor, George Burke. George Burke, a child himself, told the girls that he would one day own their house, as he had fallen in love with it. That day came in 1981, when he had received a phone call from the mother, now Elizabeth Wylly Aug. She and her family had moved away four years prior, abandoning the house. Ms. Aug asked George Burke if he wanted the house and he accepted. For half of a decade, he spent his waking hours restoring the house to its original beauty.
In 1989, the Department of Parks and Recreation acquired Seguine Mansion and its environs for Lemon Creek Park. Today, Mr. Burke operates the house as a museum, which is open to the public four times a year. On the property is the Seguine Equestrian Center, where horseback-riding lessons are offered. Today, the landmarked mansion is a must-see for history and architecture lovers.
In 1995, the final portion of land was acquired for Lemon Creek Park. These 22.7 acres, which are located on the waterfront, make the park over 100 acres in total. Here, you will find the Princess Bay Boatmen’s Association, where there is a kayak and canoe launch site. You will also find a memorial plaque honoring the founder of the Natural Resources Protection Association, Louis Figurelli. He dedicated his life to protecting the wetlands of Staten Island, as well as the waters surrounding New York and New Jersey.
Lemon Creek Park has more than just water activities and a historic house. By Hylan Boulevard, Seguine Avenue, and Sharrott Avenue, there is a wheelchair-accessible playground. Just below this, by Johnston Terrace, there is an off-leash dog run area, where people can bring their dogs from the park’s opening until 9 a.m. and from 9 p.m. until the park closes. By the waterfront, you will also find a gazebo, which allows people to catch a glimpse of the ocean while staying cool in the shade.
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