Conference House Park
The Daily Plant : Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Conference House Park Is September’s Park Of The Month
In the September 7 edition of The Daily Plant, we discussed the events of 1776 when Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge traveled to Staten Island to hear Britain's offer for peace. The very same structure where this fateful meeting took place survives today as Conference House, a member of the Historic House Trust. It is the centerpiece of the sprawling Conference House Park, and a property of the City of New York since 1926.
Fast forward to the present and we are pleased to announce that Conference House Park in Staten Island is September’s Park of the Month. Located at the southernmost point of New York State, the 267-acre park has undergone more than $10 million in renovations that have transformed the park into a popular visitor destination.
“Conference House Park is one of New York City’s most beautiful, diverse, and historic parks,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The recent renovations have transformed this beautiful landscape with new pathways, a playground, and a pavilion overlooking the water. The new Visitor Center welcomes park users, while the historic houses tell a story three hundred years in the making.”
For most of its life, Conference House Park remained an undeveloped swath of land. The recent renovations at Conference House Park included the construction of new pathways that let visitors enjoy leisurely walks along the scenic Raritan Bay, as well as landscape and public safety improvements, including perimeter-edge delineation. There is also a newly refurbished playground, and a pavilion located on the shore facing Perth Amboy. An existing house was renovated to become the Visitor Center, which will be the first stop for patrons of the park.
Additionally, the Parks Department recently appointed dedicated staff to oversee the operational needs of the Park, led by Director Bonnie Donovan. These improvements have set the stage for the re-imagining of the park’s most prominent feature: its historic structures, which include three historic houses that trace the history of the borough over the course of three centuries.
Conference House, built by Christopher Billopp in 1680, was the seat of his family’s estate. In 1776, it hosted a peace conference that signified the last attempt to avoid the Revolutionary War. A short distance away is the Biddle House, built by Henry Hogg Biddle between 1845 and 1853. Just downhill from Biddle House is the Rutan-Beckett House, which was built around 1850. The house contains a complete collection of furnishings, decorative objects and memorabilia dating from the 1850s, which was purchased through the generosity of the Staten Island Bank & Trust Foundation.
Park of the Month introduces some our greatest parks and greenspaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike. A link to this month’s highlighted park is available on Parks’ website, www.nyc.gov/parks, and the dedicated page includes photos, an interactive map, historical and press information, as well as links to capital projects and inspections.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”
(1869 – 1940)
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