The St. George / New Brighton Historic District Staten Island

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on Saturday, November 12th, 2011 at 9:33am.

historic home on Carrol Pl. Staten IslandBetween the years of 1835 and 1987, dozens of buildings were constructed at the northern tip of Staten Island. Over the years, architectural styles changed and the buildings began to stand out due to their individuality. Having been well-kept over the years, a hearing was held by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the buildings, as well as their boundaries, as a Historic District. On July 19, 1994, the historic district was established as the St. George/New Brighton Historic District.

Several of the buildings in the district had been demolished over the years, leaving some scattered vacant lots.  However, seventy-six of the St. George/New Brighton Historic District's original buildings are still intact. The designated buildings occupy the streets of Carroll Place, Hamilton Avenue, Phelps Place, Richmond Terrace, St. Marks Place, and Westervelt Avenue.  Often, the houses had to be erected in a Vernacular architectural style, meaning that the houses were built using whatever resources were available. Keeping this in mind, many of the houses you will read about here will be described as having been built in a Vernacular architectural style.

The earliest surviving home of the St. George/New Brighton Historic District is located at 404 Richmond Terrace. It was constructed by about 1835 in the Greek Revival style, which was popular in the United States between 1820 and 1890.  These types of houses resemble ancient Greek structures, which can be recognized by the frequent use of columns. The mansion was erected by Thomas E. Davis for New York merchant Henry P. Robertson. A few years later, another house of this style was built further down the street, at 272 Richmond Terrace. Henry McFarlane had this house, along with three others, constructed in the Vernacular style. In 1849, he sold it to Sarah Wotherspoon, the wife of banker George Wotherspoon.

Between 1840 and 1885, the Italianate architectural style, which was based off of villas in Italy, became quite popular in the United States. During the 1850's, two of these houses were constructed within the District. At 135 Carroll Place, the street parallel to Richmond Terrace, one of these homes was constructed for John Q. Jones, the Chemical Bank president, his brother Joshua, and his sister, Mary Serena. The house was constructed around 1855 and was used by the Joneses as a summer home.  At some point during that same St. Marks Pl. Historic District Street Signdecade, another Italianate home was constructed on the street parallel to Carroll Place, at 97 St. Marks Place. Copperplate engraver William S. Pendleton bought the land from George Griffin, an attorney, in 1849. Some years later, he had the house erected, which he sold to his son in 1867.

A little over a decade after the Italianate style was popularized in the United States, another style began to flourish: Second Empire. This style lasted from 1855 until 1885. In the St. George/New Brighton Historic District, the buildings in this style were constructed between the early 1860s and the mid-1880s. Four of the Second Empire-style houses were constructed between 1866 and 1885 for Dr. Theodore Walser, who had been the deputy health officer at St. George's Quarantine Hospital, and his wife, Mary. These houses are located at 20 Carroll Place, 9-11 St. Marks Place, 17-19 St. Marks Place, and 33 Westervelt Avenue. Westervelt Avenue is perpendicular to the former streets mentioned above. William S. Pendleton, mentioned earlier, also had a house of this style constructed for him, at 109 St. Marks Place.

As early as 1863 until as late as 1874, several other houses were constructed in the District in the Second Empire style of architecture.  At 89 St. Marks Place, attorney Augustus Prentice had one built for himself. Following these were manCarrol Pl. Historic home in St. Georgey more houses on Westervelt Avenue.  Beatrice and Clement Newton, a masonry contractor, had one built at 36-38 Westervelt Avenue.  William Elliott, the owner of a florist and seed business, had one constructed for him and his wife, Jane, at 42 Westervelt Avenue.  At 52 Westervelt Ave., Mrs. Mary Eadie, the wife of a block printer, had a Second Empire-style home built for her family.  On the next lot, at 54-56 Westervelt Avenue, an employee of the Equitable Insurance Company, Francis Gray Hallett, along with his wife Elizabeth, had one constructed as a rental property.  Matthew Connor, the owner of the Belmont Hotel, built one at 60-62 Westervelt Avenue. Further down the street, tailor Richard Chute had the last Second Empire home in the District built for his family at 96 Westervelt Avenue.

During the same period of time that the Second Empire-style houses were being erected, two more houses were constructed in a different architectural style. Between 1863 and 1874, prominent architect, Edward A. Sargent erected two identical houses in the Gothic Revival architectural style. This style was popular during the nineteenth century and resembled Gothic architecture of the past. The two houses Sargent erected were at 75 St. Marks Place and 83 St. Marks Place. Both of the houses were for attorney Augustus Prentice, of whom we spoke earlier.

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