Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Images of America, the St. George edition

Last Friday, Fernando and I stopped in at SHOW gallery to check out the release party for the new book Images of America, St. George. The book is part of a series published through Arcadia Publishing and was written by David Goldfarb and James G. Ferreri who were on hand to sign copies.

The book is filled with historic photos as well as some fairly current photos of the St. George neighborhood. There are so many that I had never seen before - a result of Goldfarb and Ferreri spending countless hours of research and probably pouring over the NYPL Archives.
It really struck me how much our neighborhood has physically changed over the years since its start when it was initially known as New Brighton. New Brighton was mostly divided up into grand estates. The proximity to the Staten Island Ferry made New Brighton (St. George) a perfect spot for wealthy residents wanting a private yet conveniently close location to Manhattan.

The map below, included in the book really puzzled us because it shows a building exactly where our house stands today, part of the J.C. Green estate and is dated 1874:
Unfortunately, from the scan I couldn't read the type next to the building. We don't really know the exact date our house was built. All of the Staten Island land records were destroyed in a fire. We were originally told by the previous owner that it was built in 1910. He claimed this is what he was told by the first owner. After speaking with our neighbors (they own the very similar house next door) we all agreed that it must have been earlier than 1910.
Seeing that map prompted me to look around the NYPL digital archive for some more maps... and I was lucky enough to find a larger example of the same map:
Ah-ha! There was a greenhouse here before!
And then there was this one from 1906-1913, actually showing our house:

As well as this one dated 1917, that shows our house on a much smaller lot of land:

A little internet searching and I found this circa 1880 article from the New York Times:

It seems that where FERNando and I now lay our heads was possibly once a peaceful place for ferns to grow.
Let's re-cap: There was a greenhouse on our lot in 1874. The grounds and presumably the greenhouses were still in use in 1880 since Mrs. J.C. Green received a special prize for her magnificent collection of ferns. Our house existed at least since 1913 according to the confusingly dated 1906-1913 map above. So basically my research settles just about nothing other than sometime between 1880 and 1913 our house came into being. I'm going to push it a little further - Curtis High School was built between 1902 and 1904. Those grounds were also once upon a time part of the J.C. Green estate according to map number 1. It may be safe to say that the land was divided up at that time - they obviously tore down the estate mansion to make way for the school fields - it could have been around that time that the land was sold off. Maybe a better time frame would be between 1880 and 1902? Oh and somewhere along the way our lot increased in size.

ANYWAY, below are a few former gems, long ago ripped down to make way for apartment buildings, semi-attached stucco houses and paved parking lots. Perhaps we can thank J.C. Green for such improvements?

The Anson Phelps Stokes house, which had it still been standing, we would have been able to see from our office window (and remember just how modest our accomodations are:)
It's opulent interior that we would not have been able to see from our office window:
More of the (cluttered) interior:
Could the greenhouse that stood on our property have looked like this? Phelps Stokes house greenhouse:
Architect Edward Alfred Sargent's double house on the no longer existing Lennox Street:

The De Escoriaza house formerly of St.Marks Place:
The Staten Island Academy which I'm pretty sure was torn down to make way for either the co-op building we used to live in or the adjacent vacant lot:

An aerial view of St. George looking towards Curtis High School:
View up Hyatt street toward the Brighton Reformed Church and the former Tiedemann House on right:
Some things still look pretty much the same as they did in the old photos like these streetscapes of St. Mark's Place:

And some houses, like this one on Belmont Place and Vine Street:
And this one on Belmont Place and Daniel Low Terrace:

Friday, April 17, 2009


Damn you IKEA! Just when I find something I like - you never have it in stock! For my front porch, I desperately need a couple of these:

That's the MYNTA hanging planter - completely unavailable in NY and NJ at the moment. You see it matches these gunmetal grey Jonathan Adler pots I've been holding onto for more than a year (or two?) now:
I need to finally fill them up with flowers. And I'm pretty sure I need the hanging planters for a few of these:
I suppose with a profusion of flowers like that it doesn't really matter what the hanging planter looks like. It shouldn't be too hard - at least I'm not attempting this:
I've been starting my garden from seeds in Jiffy greenhouse trays. They work just great until they sprout too big for the greenhouse cover. I went a little crazy with the seeds - I think there are 11 kinds of tomatos:

Toby the cat loves digging up plants and killing them. Anyway, now is about the time when a few IKEA FRO mini greenhouses would come in handy:
Well, they would if they were available in any of the NY or NJ stores.
In other garden news, we've bought "new" vintage lawn furniture. We found two chairs and a small settee - perfect for the small patio area:

I want to make some bright stripe-y cushions for the seats. Now we just need to find a matching wrought iron round table.
The yard has gotten quite a bit cleaner:

Yes, it still needs a ton of work but at least we're not standing knee deep in leaves anymore - remember this:
I do.