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Tottenville History

The Years in Tottenville History

January 2014
The Years in Tottenville History
 
Sharing Tottenville History with you by month in the past year’s blog posts has been interesting for me, as I hope it has been for you, my readers. 
 
Wishing each of you the very best of the new year, I am devoting this month’s blog post into a sharing of my writing plan, both for the blog, and for myself for 2014.
 
For the new year, this blog will expand from This Month in Tottenville history, to This Year in Tottenville history, with each month exploring the sequential years and decades from 1898, the year the five boroughs consolidated to become New York City.  I hope to make it more cohesive and interesting for you this way.
 
As I put together some highlights of the year each month,
I need and appreciate your help!
 
 
Since the Council on the Arts & Humanities Staten Island (COAHSI) awarded me a Premier Grant for a History of Tottenville workshop held September 1999 at Our Lady Help of Christians, I went on in 2000 to hold an additional workshop at the Tottenville Branch of the New York Public Library. 
 
Both of these workshops were interactive, where people attending gave me so much information, questions, and details from their memories after I shared what I had uncovered, that I knew I needed to write a book on Tottenville to capture the passion they shared with me.
 
Life had other plans for me in my personal life.  It was necessary for me to put the writing of the book on hold, but that does not mean I ever gave up on my plan to write it.  My 2014 writing plan is to devote more focused time to writing it, giving myself a personal deadline of the end of this year for its completion.
 
In times of struggle, what doesn’t destroy us makes us stronger.  After these last few years, I hope I’ve achieved enough strength to not get any more strengthening lessons and meet that deadline.  


                                                                                                                                                   
 
 
Here is where YOU come in.

Please add your comments to each blog post. 
·       Did you learn something new?
·       Was it interesting to you?
·       Do you know something related to it that I failed to mention?
·       Do you have any questions?
 

Your comments will keep the passion of the interactive workshops I held continuing.  A good writer does not write for self, but for readers.  

I want this book to live up to its working title of Tottenville Speaks. So speak to me.  I’m listening.
 
 
What better way for me to learn what you find important and interesting in the history of Tottenville than for me to have your comments!

Holiday Edition 2013

With Thanksgiving late in November this year, and Chanukah falling on that day, this holiday season felt like a whirlwind season with Christmas now arriving.
 
I wanted to be sure to get this holiday edition out to wish you joy and peace.  Whatever your holiday tradition may be, they all speak to our being there for each other to embody and experience the meaning of the holidays.

 
Some years ago, Our Lady Help of Christians Church gave out a flyer by an Unknown Author that I framed to put out with my Christmas decorations each year since then.  I would like to share it again with those who may not have seen it, as both a holiday gift and an appropriate reminder at this time for all of us.
 
---
“If I decorate my house perfectly with red and green bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
 
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.
 
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
 
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
 
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
 
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
 
Love is kind, though hurried and tired.
 
Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and linens.
 
Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.
 
Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.
 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
 
Love never fails.
 
Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.
 
But giving the gift of love will endure forever.”
---
 
Thank you for all your support in reading this blog and sharing it.  All of you were in my thoughts at Thanksgiving when I recalled my blessings, and you will be in my heart at Christmas as I celebrate the birth of the One who is an example of true love for all of us. 

Tottenville October 2013

Let me begin with my apology for the delay in this post.  October this year has been both a busy and disturbing month for me.  Please forgive my deviation from the normal monthly format to share with you what is most pressing on my mind and in my heart.  I realize now as I write, that this was what prevented me from writing this blog post on time. 
 
Somehow, the norm just did not seem enough to me, and I kept putting off writing it from a self-paralysis that told me it just would not be relevant this October.  Since I became a professional writer, I strive to be thorough in my research, accurate with my facts, and write only that which I can be proud of composing.  As a freelance journalist, I believe that I have both the responsibility, and the freedom, to do just that.  The writing comes from both my mind and my heart, and I refuse to tolerate any separation of the two.  Deadlines are paramount to me, and when I found myself ignoring one with this post, I knew I had to figure out what was holding me back from writing it.
 
October 29 was the one-year anniversary of the devastation of Sandy. 
 
Remembering that day is depressing enough, but the reality that one year later
--so many on Staten Island, and in other areas on the East Coast, are not in homes of their own, as well as that
--the physical protection against anything this winter may bring our way this year is inadequate in my opinion,
absolutely infuriates me.
 
The storm made me sad.  My heart broke with all the loss of life and property.
 
Those who pulled together, then, and those that continue to this day to help, comfort my heart.  Together we will get through this.
 
However, if I see one more commercial on television as to how we are stronger than the storm and have beat it, I believe I may scream.
 
Yes, we are resilient. 
 
Yes, this will not destroy us.
 
Nevertheless, the inefficient negligence affecting the lives of those shattered by Sandy for over a year now is downright immoral in my book.
 
You’ve lost everything in the storm.  We want to help you.  Then came busy work followed by limbo, false promises, and shattered expectations.
 
Find a way to get years of your last tax statements, gather a few years’ worth of W2’s from your job, and fill out paper, after paper, after paper.  Oh, the ocean destroyed it all?  Well, make some phone calls and get new copies.  Hurry up; we need all this paperwork this week.  Something’s changed; we need this new thing in a couple of hours.  We will let you know in two weeks.  Two weeks later, it will take another two weeks, repeatedly for the course of the year.  You need to raise your house this high.  Wait, the maps are changed.  Make it this high.  Stop, if you do work on your own home we can’t help you.  We’re here to help you, dangling hope, but we’re not going to tell you when or how.
 
A year later, as the politicians relax in the comfort of their own homes, this ludicrous scenario continues, keeping the survivors as victims.
 
Well, I have my own message to send to the politicians, one that many have forgotten. 
--Those who suffered because of Sandy are not a photo opportunity.
--Remember these are people, not numbers on a piece of paper. 
--Do not shuffle them around. 
--Don’t ignore them. 
--Stop repeatedly telling them that they have to wait to get on with the rebuilding of their lives.
 
The many volunteer groups, individuals who are in the trenches since day one, understand that.  Habitat for Humanity understands that.  Former President and Mrs. Carter understand that.  Neighbors who help their neighbors understand that.  Charities that actually got money, necessities, and continued assistance to people hurt by Sandy understand that. 
 
Don’t get me started on the charities that used the storm to increase their revenue, and then didn’t do a damn thing that directly helped a Sandy survivor.  I don’t need to name them.  They know who they are, and they should be ashamed of themselves. 
 
How about using the money that thousands across this city and the country donated, believing that they were doing something to help their neighbors, to help their neighbors? 
 
If you are one of the ones who donated money to help, do you really know where the money ended up going?  If not, maybe you should ask that charity to specify what they did with your money.
 
Writing this is therapeutic for me.  It is something I needed to say publicly, both for my own peace of mind, and for you, my readers, to know what is really going on, if you did not already know.  However, that is not my main intention in writing it.
 
I ask that ALL of us “walk the talk” in whatever capacity we can. 
 
What action you take is your choice.  Write a letter, email, social media post.  Call a politician.  Join a volunteer group.  Call someone hurt by Sandy to ask what you can do to help with something still needed.  Find out what still needs to be done to protect our shores, and demand that the people who should be doing it actually do it before another tragedy occurs.  This storm may not have hurt you personally.  What’s to stop the next storm from doing so?
 
Only you can come up with the action that will best use your strengths to make progress.  It’s been over a year already.  Let’s not let this situation continue year, after year, after year because we believe that someone else is handling it.
 
If each one of you did just one thing to help, miracles can happen.
 
While those who know me personally know how essential I believe prayer is in accomplishing miracles, the God I know and love also made us the individuals that we are, wanting us to actually to do something about a bad situation to make it better.  Yes, continue praying, but please, please, don’t stop at just that.
 
Each week I pray with my parish community, “I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do.” 
 
I have always taken that “what I have failed to do,” very seriously and personally.  In many situations, I believe that failing to do something that we know is the right thing to do is the bigger sin than anything that we may actually do in life.
 
I beg you:    Don’t leave this to someone else.  Don’t question what you as only one can do.  Do something.  The exponential results of what one does, together with others doing their part, will astound you. 
 

Let’s make that miracle!

This Month in the History of Tottenville September

September 2013

In last month’s blog, I shared my Register articles on Tottenville businesses in the past, which included the following:
“Dorothy Walters Johnston of Tottenville, whose ancestors include the Tottens, shared a painting of the early 1900’s that takes in Main Street from Old Broadway (now Arthur Kill Road) to the former Tottens’ dock and shows the Perth Amboy shore across the Arthur Kill, with the Lehigh Valley Railroad coal docks.

The scene was originally painted by Chester Graham, 5367Aruthur Kill Rd., who supplied the information about Tottenville as it existed in 1900.  Accompanying the article is a similar picture painted by Edith Dow in 1982.”


Someone contacted me asking for more information about Edith Dow since he had just purchased one of her works.
Ask this former investigative reporter a question related to Tottenville history, and know I’m going to snoop out the answer.  Hmm, maybe that’s a contributing factor to why my book about Tottenville history is not yet in print. 

Anyway, after making the decision now that 2014 will be the year that I stop the major research and establish a plan to get my book completed, here is what I was able to find out about Edith Dow with a stop at the Tottenville Historical Society office on Main Street and an 1974 article and 2008 obituary of her brother that I found online.



The Cranford Chronicle, on November 27, 1974 reported that the Kenilworth Art Association was sponsoring “a palette knife and brush demonstration in oils by Staten Island artist Edith Dow.” http://archive.cranfordlibrary.org:8080/CranfordChronicle/1974/1974-11-27/pg_0004.pdf
It shares the following:
“Edith Dow, primarily a landscape artist, is self-taught.  She has participated in many shows in Staten Island, Manhattan, Long Island, and New Jersey.  She has won various awards, the most recent in May when she won three first prizes in landscape, seascape, and still life in the Electrical Industry Spring Arts Festival.  She is a member of the South Shore Artists.”
 
At the Tottenville Historical Society, I spoke with Betty Eisengrein, who not only knew Edith, but also could give me some insight into the woman as well as into her work.
Edith Dow’s maiden name was Lee, her father being a carpenter in Tottenville, Ted Lee.  Born in the 1930’s, Edith, now deceased, attended Tottenville High School,
Betty shared how if you asked Edith for a specific subject, she would paint it for you.  Wanting to give a thank you gift to someone who had her son Peter on their ship, she asked Edith for a painting of a sailboat and island.  Edith obliged with a perfect work of art that captured this subject for her.  Betty remembered Edith as a kind and wonderful woman in addition to being an excellent artist.
 

The obituary of her brother, Theodore H. Lee, mentions both of their parents: father Theodore R. Lee and Dorothy B. (Cole) Lee.  He died in 2008, pre-deceased by his sister Edith Dow.  http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ButlerNJarea/conversations/topics/21442



If any readers know more about Edith Dow, please add a comment to this blog post or contact me via email at AngieMangino@aol.com so that I can fill in the blanks as to the dates of her birth and death, as well as learning more about her work.



The original painting of Main Street by Chester Graham was part of the Main Street in Retrospect exhibit at the Tottenville Historical Society.

NOTE:   Coming October 2 @ 229 Main Street, Tottenville in honor of October being National Family History Month, their “new exhibit will spotlight some of the many individuals and families who have lived here.  Whether they inspired us, made us laugh, touched our hearts, or taught us something new, we honor all the men and women who have contributed in some capacity to make our community of families a better place to live today.”  http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/


Do you enjoy meeting people?  Can you offer a few hours of your time this month?  The Tottenville Historical Society is seeking volunteers for our exhibition space at 229 Main Street, Tottenville.  Regular days/hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am - 4pm.  There is a great need for Wed., October 30 through Sat., November 2.

For more information or to volunteer, please email info@tottenvillehistory.com.


September Events
“Dr. George C. Hubbard.—Dr. Hubbard was born in Ohio, in 1831.  He was graduated from the New York Medical University in 1859, and began the practice of medicine at Tottenville, Staten Island, with his father, the late Dr. E. W. Hubbard.

In September, 1862, he entered the Union Army as Assistant Surgeon of the One Hundred and Sixty-fifth Regiment, New York Volunteers.  He was promoted to full surgeon, with the rank of major, in 1864, and was the medical director of the army under General Banks, in the Red River expedition.  After the close of the war, he returned to Tottenville and resumed the practice of his profession.”   http://www.biblioserver.com/19centurydocs/index.php?m=word&kid=269194&gid=1&id=


“1972 - In September of 1972, Tottenville High School occupied the new building at Luten Avenue.”  http://z13.invisionfree.com/Tot_HS/ar/t2.htm


 



Note:  During my online research, I came across this video from a real estate that includes a very good historical view of Tottenville that I thought readers would enjoy.
Staten Island Tottenville Neighborhood: A Complete Overview from RealEstateSINY.com






This Month in the History of Tottenville August

Last month I wrote of the Tottenville Historical Society’s grand opening at 229 Main Street.

This month I am happy to report I was able to visit and view the exhibition:  MAIN STREET IN RETROSPECT.


                                















It was great to talk with Linda Cutler Hauck, Director of the Tottenville Historical Society, and readers can count on more about the upcoming happenings in future blog posts.
The exhibition:  MAIN STREET IN RETROSPECT will continue throughout September, giving the children, when they return to school, the opportunity to learn more about Tottenville.

Parents, make sure that your children don’t miss out!











When I was a reporter for the Staten Island Register, I wrote two articles about Tottenville businesses of the past as part of the newspaper’s series on the history of Staten Island.  The paper’s former News Editor, the late Bill Franz, a journalist of the highest caliber, wrote many historical articles, and I am forever grateful for the gift to be under his mentorship as I began researching and writing about Tottenville history. 
 
Much of who I am as a journalist today developed from his teaching the importance of in-depth research to get all the facts in order to back up my words with substance and impartiality.  By doing so, he helped to make me a strong writer.  My debt to him is immeasurable.
 
Here are those two articles:
September 12, 2000 Staten Island Register
August 28, 2001 Staten Island Register





Additionally I had the pleasure to personally welcome back Pam Sindle, owner of the Scented Cottage, who has a beautifully done setup to exhibit her wonderful wares.  Gift giving just got so much easier.






                                                               

It is so gratifying to me to see created something that Tottenville needs, and which although I’ve attended past discussions for many years, only now I can report it has become a reality.
 
I strongly encourage that you see for yourself:
229 Main Street (across the street from the Post Office)

Wednesday-Saturday, 11am -4pm.



August Events:
An article in the Staten Island Advance about Main Street
August 15, 2013
 
An editorial in the Staten Island Advance about Main Street
August 30, 2013
 
August 5, 1675
“August 5, 2011 will be 336 years ago that, British captain Christopher Billopp stakes claim to a large piece of land on Staten Island.  This is where he built the Billopp Manor.” http://www.tottenvillememories.net/home.htm
 
 
“In 1676, Billopp received a patent for 932 acres of land on the southern tip of Staten Island plus 30 acres of salt meadow on the west shore of Staten Island.  It is believed Billopp built his stone manor house ca. 1680.
In August 1677, Billopp accepted an appointment as Collector of Customs for Delaware.  He resided in New Castle, Delaware, while his wife remained on Staten Island managing the property.”
 
 
 
August 2007
“The last-known surviving ship built by the neighborhood’s now-defunct A.C. Brown & Sons Shipyard (1873-1929), the boat sailed here on its way to Maine for structural reinforcement.  The Tottenville Historical Society is playing host to Carib II and her owner, David Soule.”
 
 
 
 
 
August 2009 
Staten Island Advance
“Rabbi Unger’s column examines history of a Tottenville home”
   “Shelley and Neil Harwayne discovered Tottenville on Sunday ramblings in the late 70s when they’d visit the antique stores lining Amboy Road.  When they moved to their “Colonial Revival” house on Hopping Avenue in 1980, Shelley and Neil were told they had moved to ‘The Park Avenue of Tottenville.’”
They learned the house was built by a salesman named Baxter, whose family extensions through blood and marriage still run deep in town
 
 

 




This Month in the History of Tottenville July

July 2013

This Month in the History of Tottenville




The former Pete’s barbershop at 229 Main Street, across the street from the Post office, is the new, transformed home of the Tottenville Historical Society. 










 
The grand opening celebration and exhibition is 
on Saturday, August 3 from 11am to 4pm.
Exhibition:  MAIN STREET IN RETROSPECT

Regular Hours after Aug. 3:  Wednesday-Saturday, 11-4




How wonderful for them to be right here on Main Street, as a source of both information and inspiration for Tottenville residents, most especially for our children!

  “Our goal is to present public exhibits, programs, and workshops for adults and children to further the understanding of our community's history and heritage.  A second goal or, more correctly, challenge, will be to spark the revitalization of Main Street as many communities are doing across the country by providing the necessary information and tools.” www.tottenvillehistory.com/Local.../229-main-street.html



More good news is that on or about August 15 the Scented Cottage gift shop will join them on Main Street. 

Personally, I’m so very happy to be able to walk to their shop once more.  I’ve missed having the beautiful items in their shop so easily available.


July Events
“The majority of Staten Islanders were loyal to the King of England and, in fact, welcomed British soldiers when they arrived on their shores on July 4, 1776.  On July 9, 1776, nearly all adult males signed an oath of loyalty to the king.”  http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/More-History-Tottenville-Staten-Island-New-York/the-war-years/All-Pages.html
 
July 13, 1918 A.C. Brown & Sons, Tottenville, S.I., expect to have the steamer I. J. Merritt for the Merritt & Chapman Derrick & Wrecking Co. ready for launching by the end of August.” http://www.tottenvillememories.net/apps/photos/album?albumid=5441256
 
“Decommissioned on 7 November 1945, Sable was stricken from the list of ships on the Navy Register on 28 November 1945. Sold by the Maritime Commission to H. H. Buncher Co., Pittsburgh, Pa., on 7 July 1948, as a scrap hull, she was reported as "disposed of" on 27 July 1948.” http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s2/sable.htm
 

+    Remembering Gene Drill, who died on July 2, 2008 at the age of 101. http://www.angiemangino.com/Gene-B--Drill.html







This Month in the History of Tottenville

 
June 2013
 
This Month in the History of Tottenville
 
 
 
 
Happening this Year at the Conference House:
 
“Staten Island OutLOUD’s annual reading of the Declarationof Independence on the South Shore: Saturday,June 29, 2pm at the historic Conference House, 7455 Hylan Blvd, SINY10307 (southern end of Hylan Blvd, at Saterlee St)”  http://www.statenislandoutloud.org/3063/declaration-of-independence-outloud-on-the-south-shore/
                                                                    
 
June 1928 at theConference House
“The restoration of the house began in October 1926 starting with the North Room (parlor) on the first floor and basic infrastructure.  The work in the basement kitchen began in June 1928.  That same year, restoration began on the main entrance and hall, the first floor South Room, and construction of the main staircase.” http://www.conferencehouse.org/about/history/
 
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
While researching online for historical events that happened in June in Tottenville, I discovered the following article written by Samantha Ecker Angerame on 20th, 2011.
 
 
Well written by someone I’ve known since she was in first grade with my son, I was pleasantly surprised finding it by accident.  It is a wonderful taste of Tottenville that I’m certain my readers will enjoy!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Some June Events in Tottenville History:
 
June 1860
“Tottenville has been the southern terminus of the Staten Island Railway since the railway was extended to the neighborhood on June2, 1860.”  http://www.wernerf.com/article/tottenville.htm
 
 
 
Perth Amboy Ferry
First operated in June1860 with steamboats, the first true ferryboat was the Maid of Perth, whichset sail in 1867.
 
 
 
 
1928 - TheGoethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing opened - June 20th.”
 
 
 
 
 
The Tottenville Historical Society, a non-profit corporation, was founded in 2003, and chartered in June 2005 by the NewYork State Education Department.” http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This Month in the history of Tottenville

May 2013
From May Day to Memorial Day, May is a month ripe with celebration in Tottenville history.
 
 
This 1950 photograph of May Day is at P.S. 1 shows the innocence of celebrating Spring.From Tottenville Historical Society Facebook page
May Day
What is May Day?  Celebrated on May 1, the traditional dancing around a pole with ribbons to celebrate the arrival of Spring fell into decline during the Cold War era in our country.  This was because of the association with the May Day labor movement in Russia.
 
Mother’s Day
On the second Sunday in May, we remember our mothers.
In May, 2011 I wrote: “Today on Mother’s Day, two mothers who lived in Tottenville not only come to mind, but also touch my heart:  one famous, Dorothy Day; one known only to her family, my own mother.”
 
 
Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians
 
May 24th is Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.  OLHC in Tottenville celebrates the parish Feast Day on the closest Sunday. 
 
Begun with a Mass, the crowning of Mary follows, with the children who made their first Holy Communion in May.  The community then enjoys a parish celebration, with food, games, and rides for the children.
 
The Parish Feast Day celebration this year took place on Sunday, May 19, 2013.
“Notwithstanding the inclement weather, the ball park figure was between 275-300 parishioners, their friends and neighbors who attended the Parish Feast Day.”
 
 
Here is my previous blog sharing of the May 20, 2012 OLHC Parish Feast Day.
 
 
Historical May event
 
“The first local draft board on Staten Island opened on May 25, 1917.”  http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/More-History-Tottenville-Staten-Island-New-York/the-war-years/All-Pages.html
 
 
Memorial Day
 
“Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.” http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html
 
In the past, Tottenville’s Memorial Day Parades were an annual event.
Photo submitted by SDzubay of the Tottenville Memorial Day Parade in the 1930’s.
 
As we begin the Memorial Day weekend, let’s not forget remembrance as we celebrate.
 

This Month in the History of Tottenville

April 2013
In 1999, I was a COAHSI Premier Grant recipient to further my Tottenville history research to result in an interactive workshop presentation at Our Lady Help of Christians auditorium. 
 
In 2000, the New York Public Library sponsored another presentation at the Tottenville branch.
 
This led in 2002 to a New York State Assembly Citation naming me one of the Staten Island Woman in History.
 
Those interactive presentations were amazing, with one incident repeating in my mind as I write this month’s blog post.
 
One man raised the question as to why I hadn’t discussed the1963 fire, to which my honest reply was that it was before I moved toTottenville, and I hadn’t found mention of it in my initial search at the St.George Library. 
 
As he detailed the horror as a firefighter struggling to combat the fire with increasingly low water pressure on that day in April 1963, he also detailed the help from Tottenville residents.  He told of a woman who started the assistance by pulling milk, juice and just about every form of liquid from her refrigerator, a desperate measure that other residents joined in to attempt to save their houses. 
 
What struck me most, though, was when a woman in the audience called out his name and ran to embrace him.  She was the woman of whom he was speaking who started the milk, juice process!  The reunion of the two touched my heart, as it did that of the audience.
Now that’s Tottenville history coming alive, totally representative of the community spirit embedded in residents in the past, as it holds now in the present after the devastation of that more recent tragedy of the storm named Sandy last October.
 
“Boys sift through the rubble of one of 16 homes destroyed near Surf Avenue and Manhattan Street in Tottenville.  The April 20, 1963, fires would become known as Black Saturday.” http://photos.silive.com/advance/2011/03/125fire1jpg.html
 
“It would come to be known as “Black Saturday,” an afternoon of hell for hundreds of Staten Islanders who watched helplessly while their dreams were engulfed by runaway brush fires.” http://www.silive.com/specialreports/index.ssf/2011/03/firefighters_watch_helplessly.html
April 20, 1963 -Black Saturday:  Brush fires destroy more than 100 homes on Staten Island including Rossville's Sandy Ground community and Tottenville's beach community south of Hylan Blvd.”  http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/history-timeline.html
 
Other April events from Tottenville History
“It appears from a document filed with the City Division of Franchises that the original application of the New York and Staten Island Electric 'Company was dated April 20,1897, and that in this application the company agreed -to be subject to such reasonable regulations as might be prescribed by the village authorities.  The company also promised, in case its application was granted, to light all public buildings in the village free of charge, to pay into the village treasury 1/2 of 1 per cent of its gross receipts and to purchase the existing lighting plant of the village for the sum of $250.”  http://www.tottenvillememories.net/villageoftottenville.htm
 
“In April 1910, in response to a petition of 300 names, the Post Office Dept. changed the name to Bentley Manor.  Supporters of the historic name, led by the D.A.R., responded with two petitions containing over 1,300 signatures.  The Washington Post, dated November 5, 1910, reported the following: "Complying with a general request by citizens, Postmaster General Hitchcock yesterday ordered the name of the post office at Bentley Manor, N.Y.,changed to the old name of Tottenville." http://www.tottenvillehistory.com/History-Tottenville-Staten-Island-New-York/history-tottenville/All-Pages.html
 
 
 
“Landmarks designated nineteenth century home to prevent further destruction.  On April 12, 2005, Landmarks held a public hearing and acted immediately to designate the James L. Bedell House; an 1874 single- family home located at 7484 Amboy Road in Tottenville and considered one of the best-preserved Second Empire style houses on Staten Island’s South Shore.  Landmarks scheduled a public hearing to consider the house for designation after the owner, John Grossi, Jr., spraypainted the house bright orange and green.” http://www.citylandnyc.org/tag/james-l-bedell-house/?s=Tottenville,%20Staten%20Island
 
Landmarks Preservation Commission
April 12, 2005, Designation List 361
LP-1280
 
JAMES L. AND LUCINDA BEDELL HOUSE, 7484 Amboy Road, StatenIsland
Built c.1869-74
Landmark Site: Borough of Staten Island, Tax Map Block 7900,Lot 5
 
 
 
Pre-Foreclosure Proceedings for Staten Island Landmark 2008 http://gothamist.com/2008/02/19/bank_starts_to.php
 
“Our Island agents recently completed the sale and closing of the 1869 Bedell house to Tommy Kocian, a local attorney.” http://ourislandrealestate.com/images/ourisland.pdf
 
 

This Month in the History of Tottenville

March 2013
 
This Month in the History of Tottenville
 
As I share events in March related to Tottenville through the years, I’d first like to share
an event I attended this month that shared significant information from the history of
Tottenville.
 
 
On Sunday, March 24, 2013, in the Conference House kitchen,Barnett Shepherd gave a
slide lecture,
 
sponsored by the Preservation League and the Conference House Association,
 
entitled “Staten Island Preservationists and Saving the Conference House.”  
 
Author of Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built,
 
 
 
Shepherd is an expert on history and restoration,
speaking with a passion of people who did so
much, as well as those currently continuing the
work, to preserve the Conference House along
with other places seeped in historical significance.  
       
                                                                          
                 
 
 
One slide of the Philemon Society Group portrait from 1898 came to life as Shepherd
introduced each of the women captured in it.  As he shared a bit about them, he put faces to
the history this group accomplished.
 
His book is full of more information about them, including the club’s declaration of its
choice of name.
 
“The meaning of Philemon is love and love means kindness, cooperation, and
consideration for others.”
 
 
 
 
 
At the lecture, Shepherd shared how the Society, which first began as a literary group,
grew into a strong supporter and activist organization for the preservation of historical
buildings.  
 
 
 
Their new mission statement in 1909 when becoming
the Philemon Literary and Historical Society now
included zeroing in on the preservation of buildings,
making them the forerunners of current historic
preservation activism today.
“The object of the Society is to engage in and promote the study and love of literature,
history and patriotism to promote and urge the preservation of buildings and lands of
historical interest in the Borough of Richmond.”
 
As mentioned in last month’s blog, these women were instrumental in the establishment of
the Tottenville Library, which opened November 26,1904.  This month, I’d like to share
what I learned from Shepherd about their part in the saving of the Conference House.
 
 
After sharing the history of ownership of the Conference House, Shepherd told how it was
in 1906 when the Philemon Group first took interest in the Conference House, now empty. 
They continuedin their efforts to save the Billopp House, called by many the “Old Stone
House,” focusing on Borough President Jack Lynch to help. 
 
It was William T. Davis’s later suggestion of stressing the importance of the
Peace Conference on Sept. 11, 1776 at the Billopp House, changing the name to the
Conference House, to take the emphasis away from Billopp, who was loyal to England,
that led on September 30, 1925 to the formation of the Conference House Association. 
 
Officially opened to the public on May 15,1937, the Conference House restoration work
began in 1926.
 
More Information:
 
Philemon Literary & Historical Society in Club Women of New York 1913-1914
 
 
Conference House History
 
SILive
 
 
The Preservation League of Staten Island
 
 
 
 
TottenvilleBooks
Publication Date: March 10,2010   Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built
 
Release date: March 21,2011 | Series: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing) Tottenville
 
 
Tottenville through the years in March
 
March 7, 1788 -- New York State Legislature divides Staten Island into four towns:
Castleton, Northfield, Southfield, and Westfield.
 
March 11, 1888 --Sudden blizzard is among worst in city history; Father Drumgoole dies
of pneumonia after getting caught in storm. 
 
“At the time of Carnegie's offer to fund branch libraries, the two-year-old Tottenville Free
Library had almost 3,400 volumes and was in need of its own building. 
On March 16, 1901, the day that the Carnegie gift was announced in the newspapers,
Library Association President Frank Joline submitted an application for funding on behalf
of his Board of Trustees; two separate accounts claim that Tottenville's request was the
first filed with the City Comptroller, who "on reading it, said laughingly, that the
committee must have been at work before breakfast. “  The application was then presented
to the appropriate New York Public Library officers.”
 
Tottenville Evangelical Free Church “In March of 1958 the congregation voted to
withdraw from The Congregational Church Association, which was received on good
terms with well wishes from the Association.  The church voted to join with The
Evangelical Free Church of America.” http://www.tefcsi.com/who-we-are/
 
“By 1969, there were 540,000 American troops in South Vietnam.  It was not until
March 1973 that the last U.S. ground troops came home…  In November 2008,during a
solemn ceremony, a monument was dedicated at Tottenville High School for the former
students who lost their lives during military service.” 
 
Repairs needed – past and present
“Repairs were made to add piles placed at the pier foot of Bayway, Raritan Bay Park
Tottenville, by owners…finished March 18, 1902.”
 
“The city Parks Department is in the process of making repairs to the damaged bird blind
and a destroyed walkway bordering the beach in Conference House Park.
The bird-watching site and gravel trail that wrapped around it were hit hard by a
March 2010 nor'easter …”
 
 
 
People of Tottenville
 “Patti Hansen, who is of  Norwegian ancestry, was born and raised in the Tottenville
section of Staten Island, New York.”  Birthday – March 17, 1956
 
                                                                                                            
 
 
William Frerichs died on March 16, 1905.   
 
 
 
Paul Zindel died on March 27, 2003, at the age of 66.
“Paul Zindel, writer of young adult and children's books, was born in Tottenville in 1936,
and died in 2003 in Manhattan.”