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third2The Third County Courthouse is located on Center Street at the head of Court Place. It was built in 1837 on this site, replacing earlier courthouse buildings that had been located on other sites nearby.

Standing on one of the highest points in Richmond, this imposing Greek Revival building was designed to both reflect and inspire civic power and pride. The front (north) wall of the structure is built of rough-faced Staten Island trap rock; the other walls are brick.

The architectural form is a center block with a pedimented portico and flanking wings. The portico is supported by four massive Doric columns. It is not known who designed or built the courthouse but it has been suggested that elements such as the cupola (bell tower) may relate to the work of Abraham P. Maybie, who is known for the Seaman's Retreat building in Clifton.

By the 1830s, the population of Richmond County had grown to over 7,000 residents, and community leaders decided that the county needed a new and impressive courthouse to replace the smaller wood-frame structure in use at the time. The land on which the Courthouse was built was given to the county by Henry I. Seaman. In 1836 Seaman purchased a large piece of property between Richmond Road and Clarke Avenue with the intent of developing and enlarging the village of Richmond. He subdivided the land into 119 lots and built five cottages, and in April 1837 he transferred a large plot on Center Street to the county for the sum of $1 on condition that a new courthouse was to be constructed on the site “without reasonable delay.”

The new structure was completed in 1837, and it served as the county's center of public business and judicial activity for the remainder of the 1800s. In addition to housing the court and the jail, the building also housed the office of the County Clerk and Surrogate until 1848, when the Second County Clerk and Surrogate's Office (now the Historical Museum) was built.

The Courthouse was the setting for many trials from 1837 to 1919. During those 82 years, cases were heard by judges and juries in the courtroom on the upper floor of the building. Some of those trials were civil disputes between neighbors, while others were of a criminal nature. The village of Richmond was a lively place on trial days, with lawyers, witnesses, jurors, and spectators coming from all parts of Staten Island.

One of the most sensational trials to take place in the Courthouse was that of Mary (Polly) Bodine, who was accused of murdering her sister-in-law, Emeline Houseman, and Emeline's young daughter on Christmas night in 1843. Polly's trial attracted the attention of the newspapers, and crowds of onlookers came to the Courthouse to attend her trial in 1844. The jury could not reach a verdict, and Polly was subsequently tried two more times in different venues. At her third trial in 1846 she was declared innocent.

From 1837 to 1860, a portion of the Courthouse also served as the Richmond County Jail, housing male and female prisoners from all parts of Staten Island. The jail was supervised by the Richmond County Sheriff, who maintained his office and residence in the Courthouse. In addition to overseeing the jail, the sheriff served summonses, carried out court orders, and supervised property auctions. In 1860, the need for more space and improved conditions led to the construction of a new jail attached to the Courthouse (where the Historic Richmond Town parking lot is now located). The jail was substantially rebuilt in 1903, and remained in use until 1953. It was demolished by the City in 1959.

In 1898, Staten Island became one of the five boroughs of New York City, and all local government and court functions were gradually moved to new facilities at St. George. The last court session held upstairs in the courtroom was in 1919.

The Courthouse remained vacant from 1919 to 1932. In 1932 the City of New York made repairs to the derelict structure, after which it housed an assortment of community service agencies, including a dental clinic, a baby clinic, and a branch library. In 1948, the City turned the Courthouse over to the care of the Staten Island Historical Society. The building was designated an official New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969.

Today the building serves as Historic Richmond Town's Visitor Center and Museum Store. The first floor features the exhibition Third County Courthouse: Center of Civic Life on Staten Island. The courtroom on the second floor is the setting for the "Acting as Citizens" and "You be the Judge" school programs, and is also made available for a variety of meetings and functions.

Main Village - Structures

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  • The Third County Courthouse is located on Center Street at the head of Court Place. It was built in 1837 on this site, replacing earlier courthouse buildings that had been located on other sites nearby. Standing on one of the
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  • The Historical Museum is the former County Clerk's and Surrogate's office for Richmond County. It is a large brick structure in its original location on Center Street at the corner of Court Place. Its architecture features decorative bracketed eaves of
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  • The Edwards-Barton House remains on its original site on Richmond Road at the corner of Court Place, where it was constructed in 1869. The house was built for Webley J. Edwards (1816-1870) and his wife Deborah (Mercereau) Edwards (1823-1888). Before
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  • This privy (outhouse) now stands in the yard behind the Edwards-Barton House on Richmond Road. It originally stood on the property of the Jacob Crocheron House at its original location in Woodrow. At 12 feet wide, it is unusually large
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  • The Guyon Store is on its original site, on the south side of Richmond Road between Arthur Kill Road and Court Place. It was probably built ca. 1819 or 1820.  It is a simple two-story clapboard building with a one-story
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  • This structure is a coursed stone foundation for a barn. It was built by the staff at Historic Richmond Town in the area bounded by Center Street, Arthur Kill Road, and Richmond Road. It is appropriate for an early 19th-century
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  • The Town Pond was once located south of Richmond Road just east of Arthur Kill Road. Its existence is documented in the early 18th century, when Richmond was established as the county seat. The pond was likely drained and filled
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  • The establishment of a Richmond County jail was provided for by an Act of Assembly in 1704. This site was selected and construction was undertaken in 1710, with orders that the building be built of stone, two stories high, measuring
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  • In 1769, the Reformed Dutch Church built an edifice on what is now the corner of Center Street and Arthur Kill Road (not far from the Voorlezer's House which had been its meeting house in the previous century). This church
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  • The Parsonage is located on its original site on Arthur Kill Road at the corner of Clarke Avenue. It was built in 1855 as home for the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church (now demolished) that once stood nearby. The
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  • The Annadale Railroad Station is now located north of Clarke Avenue and east of Arthur Kill Road. It was moved to Historic Richmond Town in 1975 from a location on Annadale Road in Annadale. The building has an unusual history.
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  • This railroad station, which once served the neighborhood of New Dorp, now stands on the south side of Center Street near Tysen Court. Its original location was near Rose Avenue and 6th Street (now New Dorp Plaza). It was built
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  • This structure was constructed for location filming of the television series Boardwalk Empire. It represents a 1920s American diner in the fictional town of Tabor Heights, New Jersey. This set was utilized for episodes which originally aired during the show’s
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  • The Rezeau-Van Pelt Cemetery is located near the intersection of Tysen Court and Center Street, just west of the Third County Courthouse, on the original site where it was established in the 1780s (decades before the courthouse was built). It
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  • The lawn between P.S. 28 and the Third County Courthouse is now used for visitor picnicking and outdoor concerts at Historic Richmond Town. But in earlier years, a house stood here, at 284 Center Street. The house was erected in
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