Stephens-Prier House #18

The Stephens-Prier House stands on its original site between Richmond Road and Center Street at the corner of St. Patrick's Place. It is a two and one-half story wood frame house built ca. 1857-1859. It is symmetrically designed, incorporating classical pediments on all four sides with identical facades on Center Street and Richmond Road. The architecture shows features of both Greek Revival and Italianate styles.

The house was built for Daniel Lake Stephens (1810-1866). Stephens was born in Manhattan, moved with his family to Brooklyn in the 1820s, and in 1854 he and his sister Ann Eliza moved to Staten Island to live with their cousin Stephen D. Stephens in his home in Richmond (the Stephens-Black House).

In 1857, Daniel purchased a lot extending from Richmond Road to Center Street along St. Patrick's Place; this was the largest residential building site in the village of Richmond. He commissioned a large and impressive house for the site, and the house appears to have been completed by 1859. According to the 1860 federal census, Daniel was living in his new house with his second cousin, Mrs. Ann McLean, as housekeeper; her daughter, Ann McLean, aged 14; a boarder, Phebe Randolph; and an Irish immigrant servant, Ann Murphy. Daniel is believed to have been blind, perhaps impacting his need for household help.

Daniel Lake Stephens never married, and when he died in 1866 the house passed to his sister Ann Eliza. In 1870, her cousin Stephen D. Stephens and his family moved to the house to live with her after selling their house. The Stephens-Prier house was subsequently occupied by several other members of the Stephens family. The best- known of these was Judge Stephen D. Stephens Jr. (1845-1911), a successful lawyer who served as Richmond County Judge and Surrogate for thirty years, as well as serving two terms in the New York State Assembly.

In 1886 the house was purchased from the estate of John I. Stephens by James E. Prier, a butcher. Prier had a shop in Richmond where he sold meats and vegetables, and he also owned a large property at St. Patrick's Place and Clarke Avenue which contained a pond and commercial ice house. James and his wife Ellen J. (LaForge) Prier had six children, and the family lived in the house until 1926.

Among the later residents of the house, Francis Evans (1911-1977) was particularly notable. Evans, an engineer, bought the house in 1946 and lived there with his wife and children until his death in 1977. Mr. Evans served on the local Community School Board for twelve years, and Public School 28, diagonally across the street from his home, was named "The Francis C. Evans Curriculum Resource Center" in his honor in 1978. Mr. Evans was President of the Staten Island Historical Society from 1972-1973, and was President of the Staten Island Council of Boy Scouts in 1974 and 1975.

In 1977 the house was purchased by William F. Rigby, an insurance broker, and his son, William J. Rigby, restored the house to its original appearance over several years. In 1991, William J. Rigby and his wife Janet sold the house to New York City for it to become part of Historic Richmond Town. The building was designated an official New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1998. It is currently used to house Historic Richmond Town administrative offices and meeting space.

Sarah Hermann