The Britton Cottage is now located on the north side of Richmond Road at the foot of Court Place. It originally stood at the foot of present-day New Dorp Lane, near Cedar Grove Avenue, in New Dorp Beach. It was moved to Historic Richmond Town in 1965.
The Britton Cottage is a one and one-half story fieldstone and wood frame farmhouse. The center section of the house dates to ca. 1670. Two additions were built ca. 1760, and a lean-to was added prior to 1840.
The land where the house originally stood, the “Governor’s Lot” of approximate 96 acres, was granted by patent to Obadiah Holmes in 1677. The actual construction date of the Britton Cottage is not known, but is believed to have been ca. 1670. Obadiah Holmes was the clerk to the justice of the Third Riding District, then under British control of New York. (Prior to the establishment of Richmond County in 1683, Staten Island was part of the area called Yorkshire, which was divided into three riding districts.) Because of Holmes’ position, historians have speculated that the Britton Cottage served as a public building as well as a residence. In 1685, the property was conveyed to his son, Obadiah Holmes.
In 1695, the Britton Cottage property was conveyed to Nathaniel and Elizabeth Britton. Nathaniel Britton and his son were deacons of the Presbyterian Society and helped establish the English Presbyterian Church in Staten Island in 1729. The Brittons owned the property until 1714 when it was conveyed to Thomas Walton. It is believed that around 1760, two additions to the Britton Cottage were constructed, possibly during Thomas Walton’s ownership.
The Britton Cottage and property remained in the Walton family until 1761, when it was conveyed to Isaac Cubberly, who came to Staten Island from New Jersey. Members of the Cubberly family lived in the house until 1847, when executors of the will of Isaac Cubberly conveyed the property to David J. Tysen. In that same year, the property was conveyed to Harriet Lord. The property was inherited by her niece, Harriet Lord Britton, in 1894. Harriet Lord Britton’s son, Dr. Nathaniel Lord Britton, inherited the property from his mother.
Dr. Nathaniel Lord Britton (1859-1934), a well-known botanist, was one of the founders of the New York Botanical Garden, and author of Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada. Dr. Britton and his wife, Elizabeth, occupied the cottage intermittently until 1915, when they deeded the house to the Staten Island Institute of Arts and Sciences for use as an interpretive historic house in cooperation with local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
For some years in the 1930s and 1940s, the resident custodian of the house was Captain J.G. (Jack) Wilson, a former U.S. Navy officer turned artist. Wilson painted portraits and maritime scenes, and in 1941 he exhibited his work in the Britton Cottage. In 1951, the Institute transferred ownership of the house to the Staten Island Historical Society, and the house was moved to its current site in 1965. It was designated an official New York City landmark in 1976.
The building is awaiting restoration and is not open to the public.