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28 • Bennett House

bennett1The Bennett House is located on its original site, on Court Place at the corner of Richmond Road. The main structure was erected ca. 1839, and an addition to the rear of the house was built ca. 1854. It is a clapboarded residence with a high four-columned porch and an above-grade basement with a large brick oven extending from the southern side of the building.

Austin Burk (or Burke), a miller and baker, purchased the lot from developer Henry I. Seaman in the 1830s for the construction of the house. Seaman was a prominent Staten Islander who in 1836 began to enlarge and develop the village of Richmond. Seaman acquired a large parcel of land between Richmond Road and Clarke Avenue, subdivided the land into lots, and built five small cottages. Seaman also donated to the county the parcel of land on which the Third County Courthouse was built in 1837.

The large, commercial- size brick oven in the basement suggests Austin Burk may have had both a bakery and residence here, but he sold the property only a few years later, in 1842. By 1849 it was occupied by John Bennett and his family. John and Margaret Bennett had three children and one servant in their household. Originally from Brooklyn, John Bennett was identified in 1860 as a shipping merchant, in 1865 as an official for the Quarantine Department, and in the 1870s as a ship master and captain. An 1861 reference in the Richmond County Gazette describes "the venerable captain" Bennett as the master of ceremonies at a flag-raising at the Court House. Research indicates that Mr. and Mrs. Bennett were related to the Seguines, Guyons, and other families of Staten Island and suggests they were relatively affluent in comparison with their neighbors. Their son, Billop S. Bennett, a retired clerk, was owner of the property from 1895 until his death in 1917 at age 79. John and Margaret Bennett and their three children are all buried in the cemetery of St. Andrew's Church.

Billop Bennett had shared the house from 1900 to ca. 1911 with George D. Sharpe, Richmond village postmaster, and his daughter Bertha, a postal clerk. It is possible the building may have served as a post office at that time. From 1912 to 1915 Bennett shared the home with tile-layer Nicholas DeMuth and his family. The property was sold to George H. Schwiebert after Billop Bennett's death. The inhabitants and use of the structure between 1917 and 1926 are not presently known.

From about 1926 to 1954 the house was both a residential and business property, serving as a home, general store, restaurant, and post office under the tenure of the Atkinson and Hollender families. The Atkinsons made some minor alterations to the house to accommodate the needs of their disabled daughter, according to a 1972 letter from a member of the Hollender family. From 1938 to around 1954, the building housed Hollender's General Store. The Hollenders, a Jewish family, sold newspapers and canned goods. Meyer and Minnie Hollender lived in four rented rooms above the store with their children Sidney and Rose. A photograph from the 1950s indicates the building was also the site of a bus terminal. From about 1958 until 1965 a store and restaurant was operated on the premises by a woman identified anecdotally as "Sloppy Sally."

A privy and later a garage occupied a portion of the property south of the house, near the current location of Historic Richmond Town's Carpenter's Shop.

The Bennett House was designated an official New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969 and restored as part of Historic Richmond Town in the late-1960s and 1970s. The ground floor is currently operated as the Bennett Cafe and the upper floors hold exhibition and program areas.

Upcoming Events

718 • 351 • 1611

Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue

Staten Island, NY   10306


Charlie Sullivan to portray legendary American politician James Guyon Jr. at upcoming Guyon Tavern Concert Series

CharlesSullivan 120x150Charles Sullivan is no stranger to acting. This time traveling performer has appeared on stages across Staten Island, most recently as Scrooge with Shakespeare Theatre, as well as with Sea View Playwright’s Theatre, Sundog Theatre, and In the Wings.

This season, he portrays James Guyon Jr., the historic proprietor of Historic Richmond Town’s Guyon Inn and Store. Home to the legendary Guyon Concerts, the circa 1819 building serves up an authentic 19th century acoustic music experience with a warm and resonant sound quality illuminated by candlelight and warmed by a potbelly stove.

Tavern Concert Series at Historic Richmond Town Kicks off Jan. 13

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Jan 5, 2018 - The Guyon Tavern (circa 1819) at Historic Richmond Town (HRT) serves up an authentic 19th century acoustic music experience with a warm and resonant sound quality that is rarely found anymore, thanks to the original aged wood and plaster, and the unmistakable handmade construction.


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