Saturday, November 27, 2010


On the recent poll that I posted on to my blog, I asked readers what town in Staten Island they wanted to learn about next. The winner was Grasmere. It isn't very rich in history, but does have interesting facts none the less. It sits on the lower end of Clove Valley, its original name was Southfield, and was founded in 1683.

Sir Roderick W. Cameron who was a founding member of the American Jockey Club played a big part in the development of the town Grasemere. He built his dream house in the town and named it after his birth town Grasmere, which was apart of England's Lake District. Many believe the reason behind this was that this town reminded him of his birth place due to the amount of lakes in the area. One of the more popular ponds in the area in Brady's pond, also known as Grasmere's pond. Brady's pond was named after Philip Brady, a man that purchased the land around 1800. Another pond in the area is Cameron Lake, although only the expensive homes that surround it get to benefit from the beautiful view. Roderick Ave. is also named after the founder as well. He had also built a stone manor on what is now Radclif Rd., along with 5 other smaller ginger bread looking houses across from his house. Also a gate house to his estate stood on Stuben and W. Fingerboard up until mid-1980's. The Sir had a shipping company that connected New York to Australia. The main town in the area is Concord, Grasemere is just a division of it, along with Dongan Hills, Emerson Hill, and Old Town. Well at least in the 1800's it was this way. At this time Grasemere was the most exclusive place to live in Staten Island. The woods surrounding Brady's pond was once called Haunted Woods due to a murder that was committed in the area. 

Most of the more extravagant home built in the area around Radclif Ave, Lakeside Pl, Leslie and Whitney Ave, as well as Hillside Terr., where built by famed architect Ernest Flagg.

 Another interesting fact is the beginning of Easy Money, staring Rodney Dangerfield, is filmed on the intersection of Hylan Blvd and W. fingerboard, and Sand Lane. Also the second drummer to the rock group Twisted Sister grew up on W. Fingerboard.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I won't be a rock star. I will be a legend. - Freddie Mercury

I'm just a musical prostitute, my dear.
I won't be a rock star. I will be a legend.




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sandy Grounds- Still Fighting

There is much to say about the area I live in. Not even the area but the exact spot for that matter. I live pretty much right next to the Rossville A.M.E Zion Church Cemetery. The only thing that separates my house from the cemetery is a fence and Woodrow Rd, not the larger part of Woodrow though the very very end on the other side of the dead end, over Bloomingdale Rd. I didn't know that this was there, until I took my daughter for a walk one day. I was very taken back when I went home and started researching it.
Crabtree Ave. once was a quiet dirt road no more the 3 yrs ago its now a cookie cutter lane with a old cemetery right in the midst of it.
This is what Crabtree Ave used to look like.

This cemetery is a NYC Land Mark. The location back then was called Sandy Grounds. It was one of the first free blacks community's  in the country, as well as a stop in the under ground rail road. Most of the families that migrated here came from Snow Hill, Maryland. They were mostly oysterman who where coming to Staten Island after hearing about the prominent oyster trade that Staten Island was making a name of. The under ground rail road central meeting place was built in 1850, it was called the Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church. This area, Bloomingdale and Woodrow, is the oldest continuously settled free black community in the United States, and used to be refereed to as Little Africa, or sometimes Harrisville. After the oyster-beds became over worked the community figured out other means of survival such as blacksmithing, midwives, iorn working, and well digging. With the abolishment of slavery on July 4th 1827, all the hotels in Staten Island where booked and there was a massive celebration. It was a two day event in West New Brighton where people gave speeches and dreamed about what the future would bring them.

In 1963 a raging fire broke out and spread across the area, a lot of the buildings where lost, Sandy Ground suffering the most. There are still a few houses and Land Marks in the area. There are bids out on two cottages that sit on Bloomingdale to preserve and make landmarks. They both date at least as far back as 1854. To help give a voice to these buildings go here.

Fast forward to right now. A few weeks ago i had my sister Lisa over and we were walking down the street, it was dark out probably about 10 at night. She had been telling me about something she saw on the way to my house, she described it as a tall man dressed in a black coat and a fishermans hat. I shrugged it off. Then after about 15 minutes she stops and looks down this dirt road where they are building a fresh new line of cookie cutter houses right next to the old cemetery, and her face went completly blank. " There he is, hes looking at us." She said this and started to walk in that direction. Now I was completely freaked out so I grabbed her and we went back to my house. She was convinced and so she drew him up. Again i cant say I was convinced, as we had been drinking a little bit, but then again why would she lie? Now i havent talked about it in front of my daughter, but she seems to have picked up on something as well, she hasnt been sleeping and she screams about a ghost. She sits there and talks to nothing, like I mean full fledge conversation sitting in one spot looking directly at the same spot, when I asked her about it she just says " the ghost mommy, hide and seek". And thats just one account. Other times she tells me they are scaring her and that theres more then one. Now I know a lot of people want to chalk this up to a 2 year olds vivid imagination and imaginary friend, but could a 2 year old really be smart enough to make up lies and imaginary friends? I dont know the answer to this. 

For more info on this area visit Sandy Grounds.

Monday, November 15, 2010

1001 Richmond Hill Rd.

The David LaTourette House
 David LaTourette House

The LaTourette house was built in or around 1836. It's considered a federal-style brick mansion. The house was used as a farm by the family up until 1910. The family then sold the house to the city in 1928, and the city turned it into a club house in 1936 to accommodate the 18-hole golf course. The club house sits on Richmond Hill rd on the 540 acre golf course that became a land mark in 1968. It wasnt until 1982 it was included in the National Register of Historic Properties. The area the LaTourette House is on was once the location of a Revolutionary War-era fort, mills and quarries. George Washington visited the site as it was prepared for the defense of Staten Island.Two battles actually took place here, at the near by St. Andrews Church.

The club house is now used for many things. There is a pro shop in there as well as a restaurant. The golf course changes in the winter time and becomes a spot for children of all ages to go sleigh riding. They also hold a winter carnival each year. There is also over 500 acres of hiking trails. If your interested in any of these activities simply call 718-351-188. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Forget the Cookie Cutter Houses

These days when I look around SI i see what feels like the same houses over and over again. The semis and even the detached houses look exactly the same as the last. Builders are  trying to cram as many house on a single piece of land. This is going on right now by my house off ClayPitt. What was once a stop in the underground railroad is now the home to about 12 new semis. 
But SI wasn't always like this. Staten Island was once KNOWN for their beautiful homes with exquisite architecture. Were gong to take a look at some houses, old and new. 

This was listed as an actors home. The location is West Brighton.

Not really sure what the caption says other then West Brighton. It was too listed as an actors home.
Obviosly the Gustav House is beautiful, it was a great example of Italian Villa style home with its square cupola.
  This is the New Brighton Village Hall. The 1st one is what it once looked like while the 2nd is a now picture.  It has been abandoned since 1968.

Woodland Cottage became a landmark in 1982 and was built in 1845. One of the few left of the Gothic Revival look that was very popular in Clifton before suburbanization.

Tompkinsville looks nothing like this anymore. It was once a wealthy part as well as a desirable part of Staten Island to live in.
This Vanderbilt Home was one of 3 on SI. This one sat one New Drop Lane, but was moved back a few hundred feet. 
Couldn't really find much on this house, but it is beautiful.
Knowing what Stapleton looks like now, can you believe it once looked so nice?
Colonel William E. Ross built this as a replica of Windsor. First it was named Ross castle. It sat on a bluff over looking The Blazing Star Ferry.
Now lets compare:
Need I say more?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pictures Of The Castle

The Staten Island "Castle"

How beautiful is this? Known as Staten Island's Castle, but named S. R. Smith Infirmary. It was built in 1887 but opened in 1890, that makes it 123 years old. The history of this hospital runs deep, and the need to preserve it runs deeper. Look at it now:

After being abandoned for 31 years, there isn't much left. Covered in graffiti, and all boarded up. Though still beautiful. Amazingly the main structure remains in pretty good tact, but the inside is a whole other story. I am not really sure why the Landmark commission over looks this structure. With the current restoration of the old Sea View Hospital going on it seems very possible that this too could be saved. But then again what do I know?

      In 1861, a small hospital was established. It was a one room infirmary and severed the Island's 25,000 population. 3 years later it was relocated to Tompkins Ave. and renamed to S. R Smith. In a year end report dated in 1868 the total of patients was 88 and 57 of them where listed "cured". This was the 1st not-for-profit voluntary hospital in Staten Island. Also the first Charity Ball was held in honor of the hospital.

Much happened in the year of 1890, as the hospitals funds grew so did the need to accomadate a larger amount of people. So the Infirmary moved for the third time to a 6 acre site on Castleton Ave in New Brighton. By the end of that 1st year in its new location the Infirmary treated 346 inpatients and 600 out patients. The year of 1890 was big in the medical field, it was the year insect born infections was discovered. In 1898 military ships sailed into Snug Harbor with soldiers that were wounded in the Spanish-American war, they were treated at this facility. The name was officially changed in 1913 to The Staten Island Hospital.

 For a complete time line on the history of the hospital click HERE:

Inside staircase

Icame across a facebook page that is dedicated to protecting this structure, getting it land marked and restoring and using it. They do tours and rallies. On November 21st they are holding a meeting at the corner of Castleton Ave and Oxfordave and Cebra, New Brighton from 1-3.!/pages/Save-the-Castle-aka-SR-Smith-Infirmary/262347164433

The above link is to their facebook page.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Staten Island's Bigfoot.

On December 7, 1974, Frank Piztolato and Phillip Vivolo were in the woods near Historic Richmond Town when they "saw a black, upright ‘bear’ which roared at them." A few weeks later, on the morning of January 21, 1975, a young couple "saw Bigfoot in a church car park in the early morning" and later that night, Mrs. D. Daly was "driving late at night [and] had to brake to avoid a Bigfoot under six feet tall crossing the road from a church car park and heading for the rubbish dump and the swamp behind the church."

If I told you that these three Bigfoot sightings were actually documented and published into the Bigfoot Casebook by Janet and Colin Bord, first published in 1982 that contained Bigfoot sightings from the 1800s to 1980, what would your first reaction be? 

You would laugh. As did I. I'll show you the so called evidence, and you can be the judge.

 "My first thought was some stupid kid was in a Halloween costume," she said. "I yelled, but this thing didn't hear me — or didn't seem to." Then, as if shrugging off a pesky child, "it just kind of loped off in the direction of the [St. Andrew's] church cemetery," Accounted Mrs. Daly. 

"I looked down from the hill and I saw this bear. ... I looked at him for about 10 seconds. I saw his snoot and the rest of his body. ... He was standing on two legs." Accounted Philip Vivolo, who at the time was 12, but is now in his 40s. This sighting caused a stir. 6 cop cars, emergency services, as well as a police helicopter searched for two hours. They turned up nothing. 

Two of these sightings happened on the same day. And the other only a few weeks before. At the time you could only imagine how underdeveloped this land was. The Green Belt is thick with trees and all kinds of plants now, so then it could have only been thicker.

A man named Tom Modern is convinced that this creature exists. He has been doing research for years here on the Island and says he has found evidence and is learning how to track them down. He says he has found things even in Great Kills Park. He says that the creature walks close to banks of water so that the water will wash away his prints or any other thing he may leave behind. But is he giving this thing to much credit? He also took the Staten Island Advance to one of the sites that hes camped at, and it was the exact location that Mrs. Daly said she saw what she believed had to have been Bigfoot. Tom said after an April snow fall that he went looking for some more evidence and he found a set of foot prints on both sides on Richmond Hill Rd in the woods, they measured 15 1/2 in long and 6 1/4 in wide on the top.

Mrs. Daly did not come forward right away, she didnt think people would take her seriously. However after seeing that the young couple saw a creature matching the same description as what she had seen on the same day as she, she did. She was driving to work and she took the same route she always did, when this thing walked in front of her car and stopped in her head lights. 

Heres a few links if your interested to learn more..

 enjoy! ... and be careful!