GRACE-ful Glee and HRT Light It Up Blue

Evenings at Historic Richmond Town are a little brighter in April as the “Treasure House” on Arthur Kill Road is illuminated with blue lights in honor of National Autism Awareness Month.


Daytrippers to New York City’s living history village also experience a new education program entitled “Sensory Sundays,” which offers programming that broadens the site’s accessibility and enhances the visitor experience for people on the Autism Spectrum.


Each station of the tour features a tactile and sensory experience in the form of touch objects within a historic or landmarked building. These stations are included to further immerse the visitors into three hundred years of Staten Island history.


Eli Gottesman joins HRT’s historical interpreters as a co-tour leader for the special series of sensory tours along with GRACE instructor Bianca Licitra.  Gottesman, who advocates for himself and others on the Autism Spectrum, is a History major and Dean’s List student at the College of Staten Island, and longtime participant and employee of the GRACE Foundation.


“As a teaching institution, we strive to be inclusive and accessible to all,” notes Felicity Beil, director of education, “and it is befitting that the Treasure House will represent our deep commitment to our children, our country’s greatest treasures, during this important month of recognition. We look forward to sharing our love of history with Eli and everyone this April as we light it up blue.”


The Sensory Sunday tours are offered Sundays in April at 1:30pm and 3:00pm. The tour is included with general museum admission. Guests begin their exploration at the Third County Courthouse, and visit the Stephens House and General Store, the Voorlezer’s House, and the Guyon-Lake-Tysen Farmhouse. At each stop guests have the unique opportunity to handle objects common to the time periods, including wooden plates and bowls, implements of weights and measures, and schoolchildren’s slate boards. A “Quiet Room” in the Historical Museum is available for children and families. Proceeds from Sunday admissions will benefit the partnering not-for-profit organizations.


“Partnering with Historic Richmond Town gives the participants of GRACE a unique opportunity to tour and experience one of the true historical sites on Staten Island,” notes Kevin J. Brosnick, executive director at GRACE, adding “our families and individuals will experience it all in a welcoming environment, and supported by caring and understanding staff”.


“Historic Richmond Town is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of people on the Autism Spectrum, and honoring and celebrating the diversity of all people, past and present,” adds Ken Bach, interim executive director at HRT, “we are dedicated to social inclusion, are grateful for our partnership with the GRACE Foundation, proud of offering opportunities to all, and look forward to making our historic and landmarked structures, which have literally been homes for generations of New Yorkers, feel like home for all families living with Autism.”


Historic Richmond Town demonstrates a dedication to accessibility and inclusion year-round through diverse, mission-centric programming such as the Summer Apprentice Program, which introduces 7-14-year-old students of all abilities and interests to a focused, immersive experience in the Historic Trades that still have deep meaning today, such as woodworking, tinsmithing, blacksmithing, basket weaving, pottery-making and other maker-based experiences. The Artisans of HRT have a deep-held commitment to sharing their skills and mentoring the youth.


Historic Richmond town is located at 441 Clarke Avenue in Staten Island New York. The walking mall of the main village is available year-round for guests to enjoy the landmarked structures, landscaped grounds and abundant wildlife. The museum and historic buildings are open Wednesday through Sunday from 1:00pm to 5:00 pm The M. Bennett Café, run by the Women’s Auxiliary, provides a light lunch in a Victorian-style café. For more information visit 

Sarah Hermann