Breadcrumbs

general2The General Store, located at its original site on Court Place, is attached to the rear of the Stephens-Black House. It is a rectangular structure of one story with an attic. It was constructed in stages beginning ca. 1840, but most of the structure was demolished in the 1940s. It was restored and reconstructed by Historic Richmond Town in 1964.

The store was built as part of the Stephens-Black House, the home of merchant Stephen Dover Stephens (1808-1883), his wife Elizabeth Johnson Stephens (1811-1883), and their five children. The main part of the house was built ca. 1838, and the first section of the store wing was added to the rear of the house ca. 1840. The store was subsequently expanded three more times prior to 1874.

The store was a popular gathering spot. The village of Richmond was a bustling place, particularly on trial days, and the store was a place for neighbors to meet and catch up on the news of the day. It also served as the village post office. Stephens offered a wide variety of goods for purchase, including flour ground at nearby Geib's Mill, spices, muslin and ribbon, household goods, nails, and turpentine.

In 1870, the Stephens family sold the house and store to Mary Black, who moved to Staten Island from Manhattan with her husband Joseph and their family. The Blacks had twelve children living with them in 1870; they also had one domestic servant and one worker in the store. Their oldest son, James, probably headed the store for a time during the 1870s, before possibly departing Staten Island. Parents Mary and Joseph Black both died around 1876. Their eldest daughter, Victorine, married and left the household, while her sisters Josephine, Sarah, and Mary Black successfully operated the store and post office from around 1880 to 1920.They were remembered by a contemporary as "delightful ladies who knew all the town news and gossip: past, present and future...they were enabled, since they possessed the only public phone in the vicinity, to garner much information concerning local private lives...For all their inquisitiveness, these ladies were kind to small girls who came in to do errands and nothing was said if we helped ourselves from the cracker barrel or took a handful of brown sugar from the bin or a few prunes from the prune box."

During the many years that they ran the store, the sisters saw great changes in the store and in their community. As America moved from a predominantly rural society to a more urbanized one, factory-made products replaced ones made at home and national brands outsold local goods. Customers began to rely more heavily on retail catalogs and to travel to Manhattan to do their shopping. These trends spelled the eventual downfall of the general store.

In 1926, Sarah, the last Black sister, sold the house and store to Bertha and Willett Leslie Conner. The Conners were descended from prominent early families of Staten Island and were parents of 16 children. Willett's businesses included real estate and he also served as postmaster. After Willett Conner's death in 1932, Bertha Conner continued to operate the post office in the store wing. By 1944, the store was so dilapidated that all but part of the first section was torn down, and two years later Mrs. Conner sold the house. The demolished sections of the store were reconstructed by Historic Richmond Town in 1964 with funding from Marjorie Wells Proctor in memory of Elizabeth Stephens Wells, granddaughter of the original owner.

The General Store is currently furnished to represent a general store of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is open to visitors.

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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