Garibaldi-Meucci-Museum-Staten-IslandThe Garibaldi-Meucci Museum | Wikipedia

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 some of its exhibits.

Giuseppe_Garibaldi_(1866)Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1866 | Wikipedia

How to get there: The museum is located at the intersection of Chestnut and Tompkins Avenues, in the Rosebank section of Staten Island. If you’re driving across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, take the Hylan Blvd. exit, bear right onto Hylan Boulevard, and turn left onto Tompkins Avenue. If you’re coming from the other way, driving east on the Staten Island Expressway, take the Clove Rd /Richmond Rd exit and bear left onto Hylan, then turn left onto Tompkins. You can also take the S78 or S52 bus to the corner of Chestnut and Tompkins Avenues. The closest SIR stop is Clifton.

garibaldi-meucci-museum-staten-island-nyplHistorical drawing of the museum | New York Public Library

The story of the museum: The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is located in a Gothic Revival–style frame cottage that dates to the 1840s. In 1850, Antonio and Ester Meucci began renting the house. As a result of their comfortable status, and being Italian expatriates themselves, they allowed Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian Revolutionary, to stay with them. Garibaldi had been exiled from Italy and decided that Staten Island would be a good place to lay low and recover from his war wounds. Garibaldi left Meucci’s house in 1851, though he returned at least once before returning to his native Italy to continue fighting for its unification.

When Garibaldi emigrated back to Europe, he left some small token of gratitude with Meucci, including a red shirt he had worn while defending Rome. After Garibaldi died, the house became venerated as a shrine. By 1884, two years after Garibaldi died, a marble tablet was placed on house commemorating its historical importance. In 1906, the Garibaldi society of Staten Island raised $9,000 to purchase the house from Meucci’s estate and to preserve it.

garibaldi-meucci-museum-staten-island-photoThe Italian Comedians | via Facebook

Despite being worshiped as a hero, the cult of Garibaldi was not enough to maintain the house museum. By 1909, the memorial was vandalized with broken glass and graffiti. However, the worst was likely in 1914, when vandals attempted to raze the structure, at the urging of noted anarchist Carlo Tresca. The Garibaldi Meucci House was officially opened as a museum in 1956 and it was not until 1985 that it hired its first full time curator. In 2009, the museum underwent a major restoration and was rededicated to much acclaim.

Garibaldi-Meucci-Museum-nancy-petralia-staten-island-book-signingAuthor Nancy Petralia at an event | via Facebook

What to see: The museum’s collection explores the history of both Giuseppe Garibaldi and his host Antonio Meucci, an inventor responsible for a version of the telephone that predates Alexander Graham Bell’s. The museum offers tours, events, and occasionally delves into the claims that it is haunted.

What to do after: Another museum worth checking out in Rosebank is the Alice Austen House Museum, the home of a prominent early American photographer. You’re also not far from Fort Wadsworth, the former military installation at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that serves as the staging area for the start of the New York Marathon. If you’re looking for a bite nearby, be sure to check out Bayou, a popular restaurant specializing in New Orleans–style cooking.


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