Historic Richmond Town
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Historic Richmond Town is a living history village and museum complex in the neighborhood of Richmondtown, Staten Island, in New York City. It is located near the geographical center of the island, at the junction of Richmond Road and Arthur Kill Road.
It was formerly a county seat and commercial center which included the former courthouse of Richmond County, coterminous with the borough of Staten Island. The site also contains other former commercial and governmental buildings, as well as farm buildings and homes, some of which were relocated from other parts of Staten Island. Historic Richmond Town is a village comprising over 30 historic buildings and sites dating from the late 17th to the early 20th Century. Decker Farm, located about one mile from the center of Historic Richmond Town, features a farm stand and seasonal activities such as pumpkin picking.
The creation of Historic Richmond Town was the joint effort of many Staten Islanders, led by the vision of two local historians and preservationists: Loring McMillen and William T. Davis. Fueled by the same Depression-era passion for historic preservation which resulted in the creation of Colonial Williamsburg, these men helped create a testament to Staten Island's rich history in an era of rapid development and urban sprawl.
Established in 1958, Historic Richmond Town is a joint project of the Staten Island Historical Society, an independent nonprofit cultural organization, and the City of New York, which owns the land and the buildings and supports part of its operations with public funds from the Department of Cultural Affairs. The purpose of this museum village is to make visitors feel as if they are living in the 19th century. Visitors are able to have a first hand experience of what Historic Richmond Town once was.
Historic Richmond Town holds a lot of history dating back to the 18th century. People who lived in Richmond Town were mostly of Dutch, English, or French descent. The most common jobs were blacksmiths, shoemakers, and other types of craftsmanship. You can still visit these once worked in shops to see how they made a living back then. British troops were stationed in Richmond Town during the American Revolution.
The village area occupies 25 acres (100,000 m2) of a 100-acre (0.40 km2) site with 15 restored buildings. Anyone who comes to Historic Richmond Town has an opportunity to experience the lifestyle of a 300-year old colonial-era community. The two churches located outside the village are St. Andrew's Episcopal and St. Patrick's RC. A third church, the Reformed Dutch Church of Richmond, was demolished.
The Voorlezer's House, dating to c. 1695 is the oldest exhibit as well as the oldest standing elementary school in the United States. Another exhibit to see is the Guyon-Lake-Tysen House, a Dutch Colonial farmhouse dating to c. 1740. The Christopher House, a restoration-in-progress which dates to c. 1720, features the only functioning jambless fireplace in New York City. Among the many structures are outstanding examples of Dutch Colonial and Greek revival architecture, such as The Stephens-Black House, The John Bennett House, The Britton Cottage, the Crocheron House, the Boehm House, the Treasure House, and much more.
Year-round, visitors to the village may take a guided tour of the various homes and shops once lived in by real Staten Islanders of the past. Many of these houses are fully furnished and restored to a specific period of interpretation, some are in the process of being restored and are not yet open to the public. While Historic Richmond Town is no longer a year-round living history museum (as it was briefly in the 1980s), demonstrations of historic trades, crafts, and basic household activities by costumed museum interpreters take place during certain special events throughout the year and on a regular basis by reservation for visiting school groups. Special events that are open to the public include the Richmond County Fair, quilting classes, Tavern Concerts, Pumpkin Picking at Decker Farm (October), English Country Dancing, Old Home Day, Candlelight Tours, Traditional Dinners, and the Summer Apprenticeship Program.
In popular culture
Historic Richmond Town is featured prominently in the documentary A Walk Around Staten Island with David Hartman and Barry Lewis. The documentary which profiles the history and culture of Staten Island premiered on December 3, 2007 on PBS member station WNET, and can be seen in its entirety on the companion Web site .
Richmondtown can be reached via public transportation by taking the S74 Arthur Kill Road bus from the St. George Ferry Terminal. The ride from the ferry terminal takes about 37 minutes. The S54 Manor Road bus provides local service weekdays.
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