Staten Island has a plethora of cultural destinations. From a living museum with costumed interpreters, to the house where an Italian revolutionary lived, Staten Island has it all. Here are five great museums that are well worth a trek to Staten Island, and together enable visitors to truly grasp Staten Island’s important place in history.
Historic Richmond Town
Staten Island is home to one of the country’s best and most overlooked living museums. Historic Richmond Town is centered around the old town of Richmond, which dates back to the seventeenth-century and served as the county seat until 1898. The museum preserves some of the town’s own historic buildings, including its courthouse and the Voorlezer’s House, the oldest elementary schoolhouse in the United States. Costumed interpreters and craftsmen inhabit some of the museum’s 28 buildings, making it a fun and an engaging outing for children and adults.
This nineteenth-century Greek Revival mansion is located in the Prince’s Bay neighborhood. It was constructed by Joseph Seguine, whose family remained there until 1981. Today, the house has been beautifully restored and is occasionally open for tours. Unlike the other museums listed here, the Seguine Mansion has a custodian living on site. In addition to the house, which is reminiscent of antebellum mansions of the deep south, the 80 acres of surrounding parkland are worth a visit in and of themselves. While there, make sure to check out the Seguine Equestrian Center and see if you can spot some of the exotic birds that call the grounds their home.
Staten Island has hosted its fair share of rogues and revolutionaries, one of whom is remembered in the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, located in Rosebank. The museum honors Giuseppe Garibaldi, one of the founders of modern Italy, who lived in the house, as well as Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci, a 19th-century Italian-American inventor credited with having invented the telephone 16 years before Alexander Graham Bell. Show off your Italian American pride by stopping by the museum and checking out of one its exhibits.
Alice Austen House
Situated only one mile from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Alice Austen House is a tribute to the groundbreaking photographer. The house and estate were purchased by Austen’s grandfather, who named it Clear Comfort. Alice grew up at Clear Comfort, and it was there that she discovered her passion and talent for photography. Today, visitors can visit the 1690s Dutch farmhouse and grounds, attend events, and see photography exhibitions.
Conference House is an off-the-beaten-path museum and park located in Tottenville, just across Arthur Kill from Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The house and its 267-acre park make for a great excursion or even a picnic. Conference House Park hosts an annual Fourth of July fireworks display. and is the southernmost point in the State of New York. The historic Conference House was constructed by Christopher Billopp, a British Naval Officer, in 1680. From there he ruled over his 1,600-acre Manor of Bentley. The house has historical significance as the site of a famous peace conference during the Revolutionary War. In 1926, the house was donated to the City of New York. After extensive renovations, it opened to the public in 1937 as the first of Staten Island’s house museums. In addition to tours of the house, music and theater events take place on a regular basis.
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