The area is home to many historical buildings and places. Some of them have been recognized for their architectural and/or historical significance and have been awarded NYC landmark status (see designation date). We present here an overview of local sites, and include those, while maybe not designated landmarks or even extant, are worthy of recognition. More information on many of these sites can be found in Tottenville, The Town the Oyster Built, available through our online store.
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Conference House, 7455 Hylan Blvd., Tottenville, designated 1967
The Conference House, (formerly known as the Billopp House), was built circa 1680. It is historically significant for the peace conference held there on September 11, 1776 between delegates representing the Continental Congress and the British Crown. It was the only major attempt to end the hostilities and the Revolutionary War. The house, a NYC Landmark, National Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the only pre-Revolutionary manor house still standing in New York City.
Henry Hogg Biddle House, 70 Satterlee St., Tottenville, designated 1990
The Henry Hogg Biddle house, a Greek Revival style home, was built in the late 1840s. Henry Hogg, who later changed his name to Henry Hogg Biddle, was a sea captain who also operated the ferry between Tottenville, at the foot of Amboy Road, and Perth Amboy, NJ.
One of the house's most outstanding features is the spring eaves which extend from the roofline. The front and rear facades are identical, each containing a magnificent two-story portico. A widow’s walk and cupola were removed after a devastating fire in the 1960s. The house and property are now part of Conference House Park.
Westfield Township District School No. 5, now P.S. 1 Annex, Tottenville, designated 1995
In 1878 Westfield School District No. 5 erected a new school building at Yetman and Academy Avenues to meet a growing population. The two-story building had extra large blackboards, high ceilings, sliding glass doors and an impressive view of Raritan Bay from the upper floor. It was appropriately named "Bay View Academy." It is currently the oldest public school building still in use on Staten Island. The school was enlarged in 1896 to accommodate one of the three high school departments on Staten Island. The current elementary school, P.S. 1, 58 Summit St., was built in 1905-6.
New York Public Library, Tottenville Branch, 7430 Amboy Rd., Tottenville, designated 1995
On November 26, 1904, the Tottenville Branch of the New York Public Library opened its door. Built with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the Tottenville Library became the first public library on Staten Island. Its Classical Revival design was the work of architects Carrere & Hastings. The original exposed ceiling beams are a must-see.
James L. and Lucinda Bedell House, 7484 Amboy Rd., Tottenville, designated 2005
The James L. and Lucinda Bedell House, constructed between 1869 and 1874, is the only architecturally distinguished Second Empire frame house in Tottenville that retains its historic form, clapboard, and considerable detailing. James Bedell was a member of a prominent Staten Island family that included carpenters and undertakers. Damaged by its owner in 2005, the house awaits restoration by a new owner.
Theodore F. and Elizabeth J. De Hart House, 134 Main St., Tottenville, designated 2005
The Theodore F. and Elizabeth J. De Hart House, built circa 1850 on Tottenville's bustling Main St., was probably built as an investment by Henry Butler on the newly laid-out Totten Street (later Main Street). Three years later it was purchased by William H. B. Totten, a Manhattan produce dealer, and four years after that by Joseph W. Totten, a partner in an oyster company. Theodore F. De Hart, oyster planter, owned the house from 1874 to 1913. The De Hart House is one of the oldest houses on this important Tottenville street. The house is currently under restoration and, unfortunately, has lost many of its historic details.
Rutan-Journeay House, 7647 Amboy Rd., Tottenville, designated 2009
Constructed circa 1848, the Rutan-Journeay House is one of the oldest houses in the former Village of Tottenville. The 1-½ story, three-bay clapboard cottage retains its original Greek Revival-style front porch and doorway, and has small eyebrow windows on the upper floor. It was originally owned by James Madison Rutan, a ship carpenter, and purchased in 1850 by John S. Journeay, a blacksmith. It remains a privately owned residence.
The George Cunningham Store, 173 Main St., Tottenville, designated 2008
The commercial building at 173 Main Street was built for George Cunningham, butcher, circa 1892. At that time, Tottenville was experiencing rapid growth commercially and residentially. George Cunningham operated his butcher shop there untl 1914 when Benjamin Williams established a successful real estate and insurance business. In moderntimes, Roselli Fuel Company and later Capitol Fuel occupied the building.
Tottenville-Perth Amboy Ferry Slip, Foot of Bentley St., Tottenville (nonextant)
A passenger and ferry terminal was constructed at this site when the terminus of the Staten Island Railroad was moved from Main St. to Bentley St. in the late 1890s. Ferry service between New Jersey and Staten Island was an important link connecting New York and Philadelphia. Perth Amboy, a large city just a short distance across the water, offered shopping and job opportunities for Staten Islanders, especially Tottenvillians. By 1960 most families owned automobiles and the Outerbridge Crossing was the preferred method of interstate travel. Ferry service ended completely in 1963.
Almer G. Russell Pavilion, Conference House Park, Tottenville
The original Almer G. Russell Recreation Pavilion, located at the end of Hylan Blvd in Tottenville, was formally opened in 1935 to honor Russell, a Tottenville soldier killed in action in France in 1918. After falling into ruins from years of neglect, the Russell Pavilion was razed in the 1960s. Finally rebuilt in 2002, the structure was rededicated to the memory of Russell in 2008. Today, in 2012, it is again in a state of disrepair and closed to the public.
Masonic Temple Huguenot Lodge #381, 236 Main St., Tottenville
The Masonic Lodge was founded in 1855. The lodge was built 1909-10. It is an attractive two-story brick building decorated with terra cotta made locally by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company. Originally the Tottenville Post Office occupied space on the first floor.
Foot of Main Street, Tottenville
Tottenville began to develop as a town when John Totten Jr. built a dock and general store there circa 1834 and the area soon became a major commercial center. In the 20th century, the Seguine Runyon Stiles Building and Supply Co. occupied the site. All evidence of past businesses except for a few pilings in the waterway has been destroyed by violent storms, flooding and fire.
Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, Ellis Street, Tottenville (nonextant)
For more than three decades the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company (1897-ca. 1935) designed and manufactured architectural fabric and ornaments that were used in the construction of some of the world's most distinguished structures including the Woolworth Building in NYC. The plant occupied over eight acres on today's Ellis Street, and at one time employed over 450 men. Examples of beautiful glazed polychrome ornamentation can be found locally on Main Street's Masonic Temple.
Nassau Smelting & Refining Company, Nassau Place and Arthur Kill Road, Tottenville (nonextant)
A Manhattan metals merchant established the Tottenville Copper Co. in 1900 and for nearly a century it was the area's largest employer. In 1931 Western Electric bought the company and renamed it Nassau Smelting and Refining Co. By 2005, all the structures had been razed and removed and extensive environmental remediation of the contaminated site had begun.
Stadium Theatre, 217 Main Street, Tottenville
Since 1927, the building at 217 Main Street has been a venue for motion pictures, rock concerts, roller skaters and even grammar school children. The original marquee is still in place, although the building is currently in a sad state of disrepair.
Bethel United Methodist Church, 7033 Amboy Road, Tottenville
Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed in 1841 to meet the spiritual and social needs of the growing communities of Richmond Valley and Tottenville. It is Tottenville's first house of worship. Fire destroyed the wood frame building in 1886. A new church, a tall, brick building with an impressive Romanesque style bell tower, was dedicated in 1887. Land for the church and its surrounding cemetery was donated by the Totten family.
September 11 Memorial Clock and Park, Amboy Rd. and Main St., Tottenville
On November 19, 2011, the community clock at Main St. and Amboy Rd. was rededicated to the Tottenville residents who lost their lives in the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Tottenville Memorial Park, across Amboy Rd. from the clock, was refurbished with a new concrete planting area, landscaping, new flagpole and stone memorial, also dedicated to the memory of those who perished on 9/11. The park site was first dedicated in 1967 to local members of the New York City Police and Fire Departments who lost their lives in the line of duty.
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