Seaman Cottage #22

This house was built ca. 1836-1837 by developer Henry I. Seaman. It was originally on the south side of Center Street between St. Patrick's Place and Moore Street. It is now situated on the north side of Center Street between Court Place and St. Patrick's Place.

It is a good example of a modest Greek Revival building. The term "cottage" was used in the 19th century to describe a small, modern, up-to-date house that was suitable for middle-class occupants. It is a small two and one-half story gable roof structure resting on a newly constructed masonry basement and has a one story wood porch extending across its front.

Henry I. Seaman (1805-1861) was a New York City businessman who was a descendant of the prominent Billopp and Seaman families of Staten Island. In addition to his business activities, Seaman was a leader in the Whig political party on the Island and was elected to Congress as the Representative for Richmond and Kings Counties in 1846. He was also a director of the Staten Island Railroad (founded 1851) and private secretary to Governor John Alsop King (1856-1857).

In 1836, Seaman devised an ambitious development scheme that more than doubled the size of the village of Richmond. He purchased 90 acres of farmland between Richmond Road and Clarke Avenue. He had the land laid out into two new streets, Center Street and Court Place, and 119 building lots. By October 1836 he had sold six lots on the corner of Moore Street and Richmond Road. In 1837 he sold lots to Stephen D. Stephens and Austin Burk; the houses they built still stand today as part of Historic Richmond Town (the Stephens-Black House and the Bennett House).

Seaman himself built a group of five small houses, including the cottage now at Historic Richmond Town. Seaman sold this cottage in 1848 to brothers Lawrence H. and Peter Lockman Cortelyou, and Judge Lawrence Cortelyou retained ownership of the house until 1860. Although Henry Seaman had owned the 5 cottages for only a short time, they continued to be known by the name "Seaman Town" according to some local histories. (Of the original group of five houses, Richmond Town's Seaman Cottage is the best preserved. Two of the houses have been demolished, and the other two have been significantly altered).

In the 1840s-1850s, the house was a rental property, probably leased to artisans or tradesmen. In 1860, the house was purchased by Henry and Eliza Jane Butler, and they and their seven children lived in the house from 1860 to 1868. In 1868 it was sold to a local stone mason and builder, Martin B. Connelly. Later owners of the house were Louise Schaefer, Henry Kreissen, George H. Wilton Jr., and Donald and Shirley Brooke.

The Seaman Cottage was designated an official New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2005, and was moved to its present location that same year. It is currently awaiting restoration and is not open to the public.

Sarah Hermann