Historic Richmond Town was the first area on Staten Island to be used for a civic and county government center, being that it is right in the middle of Staten Island. It had its own courthouse, clerk’s office, stores, churches, hotel, residences, and more. Once Staten Island became a part of the City of New York in 1898, it’s civic and county center had moved to the North Shore of the borough, in St. George, to be closer to Manhattan. The courthouse, clerk’s office, and other county offices had been moved to St. George, since it was no longer a county-run government and it turned into a city-run government.
Historic Richmondtown is the place to go see Staten Island’s past come alive. Being dually operated by the Staten Island Historical Society and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the two have made this place what it is today. The town is made up of older, historically significant homes, stores, shops, a historical museum, and more. Not only have they preserved and restored homes and buildings that were originally built here, they have also moved historically significant buildings from their original sites to where they currently sit, in Historic Richmond Town.
One of the buildings that you can find here is the Basket Maker’s House. The Basket Maker’s House is located off of Richmond Road, next to the Kruser-Finlay House and behind the Britton Cottage. This is one of the homes that had been moved from its original location to Historic Richmond Town.
The Basket Maker’s House was built around 1810 and 1820 for the Morgan family. It was originally built in a marshy area where there would be men collecting oysters who would need the baskets that were made by the family. This original location was in what is known today as the Fresh Kills Landfill, or more recently, Freshkills Park. It wasn’t until the late 1900s when the Basket Maker’s House was finally moved to its present-day location in Historic Richmond Town.
There were not many people who made baskets for a living back in the late 1700s and early 1800s, but the Morgan family was of that minority. Most of the men who were oystermen built their own baskets, but there were the few who didn’t make them and got them from the full-time basket makers instead. Not only did the oystermen need baskets, but they made baskets that were made for berries, storage, and transportation.
The Basket Maker’s House was built as a one-and-a-half story frame Dutch country cottage. It not only had the one-and-a-half stories, but it included a cellar kitchen, where the baskets were also made. The building was constructed with a clapboard and shingle front finish, and it has spring eaves extending over the veranda.
The Basket Maker’s House became a New York City Landmark in August of 1969. It is a historically significant part of the past and was moved to Historic Richmond Town to show people how the baskets were made in the early 1800s. Today, they have restored the home and added furniture from that time period to it, along with basket making tools and supplies that you would normally see back in that time, bringing it back to its element, when it was a home and shop all in one.