In the neighborhood of Richmondtown, you can find a nice, quiet area that pulls you back in time. This would be Historic Richmond Town, an area that has preserved Staten Island’s past for its present and future residents. Today, Historic Richmond Town is operated by both the Staten Island Historical Society and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. It has many historically-significant homes, stores, shops, ad objects from the past. Of these historically-significant buildings, some of them had been originally built here, while others had been moved here to preserve them. A good amount of these homes are New York City Landmarks, as well.
Before 1898, which is when the City of New York came about, Cocclestown—or what is today known as Richmondtown—was the government center of Staten Island. The courthouse, the county clerk’s office, the jail, and a few other government offices had all been housed in buildings located on the site. Once the City of New York was created, however, the county government offices turned into city government offices, and the city built a new government center in the neighborhood of St. George, that way it would be closer to Manhattan.
One of the landmarked historic buildings that had been moved to Historic Richmondtown was the Boehm-Frost House, which actually just ended up replacing a house that had originally been built there, but had been destroyed. The Boehm-Frost House, which is really just the Boehm House, was built in the mid-to-late eighteenth century in the community of Greenridge, which is today’s Great Kills neighborhood. It had been erected at the corner of Giffords Lane and Arthur Kill Road and had additions made to it around the 1840s.
Though this house had been constructed in the mid-to-late eighteenth century, there do not seem to be any records of its past occupants until about the 1850s, when Henry M. Boehm moved into the house. The Boehm family had occupied the home even after Henry M. Boehm had passed away.
Henry M. Boehm was a schoolteacher on Staten Island. He was the son of Father Boehm, who had traveled with Bishop Asbury and preached in the Woodrow Methodist Church for a year. Henry M. Boehm taught at the Southfield School District Number 3 for about twenty years, and then became the Richmond County School Commissioner in 1860. During his time as Richmond County School Commissioner, he went around to the schools in Staten Island and kept a detailed diary of each experience. Today’s Public School 55 on Staten Island is named for him.
As stated earlier, the Boehm House had been moved to Historic Richmond Town to replace a house that had been destroyed. This was because the two homes were very similarly built. The home that the Boehm House replaced was the house of Dr. Thomas Frost. Dr. Frost’s house was a significant part of this area because it had been used as the courthouse while the second County Courthouse was being constructed. Dr. Thomas Frost was a prominent physician during his time. The Frost House had been destroyed in the early 1880s.
The Boehm-Frost House was designated as a New York City Landmark in August of 1969. It had been designated as a landmark due to the fact that it is a simple, pre-American Revolutionary War framed, clapboard house. It also has brick end chimneys, with one side exposed to the outside on the first floor, and interesting windows where the top sash is bigger than the bottom sash. Another great feature is that the building is symmetrical. When the house was relocated to Historic Richmond Town, it was placed on the exact foundation that Dr. Frost’s house had once stood one, and it was restored to look like the Frost House.