Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Richmond Terrace as Classical Playground

Once upon a time, when Staten Island was a playground for the more than moderately wealthy, stately homes and near palaces graced the county. One notable location was Richmond Terrace, particularly between the ferry terminal and Westervelt Avenue. The only remaining evidence of this grand period is the weed shrouded Pavillion catering hall on the corner of Westervelt and the Terrace.
Once several ornate, classically columned and decorated homes graced Richmond Terrace looking northward across the bay towards New Jersey and Manhattan. Staten Island actually had a elegance that seems utterly alien to its car jammed streets and too-small townhouses.
By the early decades of the last century these homes, like the great mansions of the Hendersons, Vanderbilts and Lows were being demolished and their land subdivided. I'm not sure when these building met their ultimate fates but by 1928 the property of 386 and 396 Richmond Terrace is clearly overgrown, the first is for sale and both are in disrepair. I don't know where these wealthy families went or what became of them (whence the Pendletons, Barretts, Hendersons and Jewetts?) but at some point these homes and similarly scaled ones across the North Shore seem to have become burdensome or out of date and they left them to decay and the wrecker's ball.

Democratic Party Clubhouse - Now the site of St. Peter's Girls' School

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386 and 396 Richmond Terrace - between St. Peter's Place and Westervelt Avenue - 5/2/1928 - The former is listed on 1917 maps as the "West Day and Evening School" and prior to 1907 belonged to the Pendleton family. The latter belonged to the Wilkinson family. It's hard to tell without zooming in on the original digital photo but the school building has a sign indicating it's for sale.

396 Richmond Terrace - 5/2/1928 -

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404 Richmond Terrace - southeast corner of Westervelt - 5/2/1928 - In 1907 it belonged to one George J. Greenfield, and between 1874 and 1898 the Wilkinson's owned it. Much later it became the Pavillion, a catering hall where my aunt and uncle had their 25th anniversary party.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Coolest New Toy

I never see my the comments people make when they make them only noticing them weeks after the fact. Well, a Dave left me information about a NYC website called City Map. Using the clever sliding bar you can see aerials maps of the city from 1924, 1996, 2006 and 2008. You can slide back and forth switching the pictures. It's awesome.
All the big houses I've written about (Ward Mansion, etc.) are present in gloriously blurry black and white. It's the coolest thing I've been shown in ages. Have fun!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lost West New Brighton

Sorry my only posts lately haven't been particularly Staten Islandy, but, hey, what can I tell you?
I've written about, and posted about, the lost West New Brighton neighborhood now squatted on by the West Brighton Houses. It was several blocks of homes, a church (the original St. Benedicta), and was served by theaters and stores along Broadway and Castleton Avenue. Nearby where the factories and dockyards where the people made their livings. It must have been something until the City decided packing thousands of people in like ants was a better alternative than small tenements and a vibrant neighborhood.

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Shiloh AME Zion Church, Henderson Avenue between Broadway and Richmond Street (no longer exists) June 29, 1931 - This pretty little wooden church has been long replaced with a larger brick one.

St.Benedicata, northwest corner of Staten and Market Streets, August 7, 1930. The intersection no longer exists.

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St. Benedicata stood on the ground behind the seniors apartments on Broadway.

PS 18, northeast corner of Market Street - March 24, 1930

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This beautiful, ornate structure was torn down and replaced with a fairly generic box of brick and cement a block to the north. The cigar store in the pictures left was where the Broadway senior houses shown above are now located.

North side of Richmond Terrace west of Alaska Street, November 4, 1931

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These two buildings (found at the left of the 1931 picture)are the sole survivors from the five originally shown. I'm sure a featureless brick box (the one on the right) is a much better neighbor that stores with apartments overhead.