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Conference House, Conference House Park

7455 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10307

At the southernmost tip of Staten Island--and New York State--stands the Conference House, a 17th-century stone manor. Located in the 226-acre Conference House Park across Raritan Bay from Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the manor was named after a dramatic meeting that shaped our nation's history.

In 1676, British naval captain Christopher Billop was granted a 932-acre property known as the Manor of Bentley. Billop built the Conference House, a solid, two-story structure of native fieldstone, in about 1680; by 1687, he had increased his land holdings to 1,600 acres. The home was enlarged in 1720 with a lean-to at the rear.

During the American Revolution, the owner of the manor was Captain Billop's great-grandson, also called Christopher Billop. A Tory colonel, Billop sometimes entertained the redcoats in his home. On September 11, 1776, his house was the site of peace negotiations between British Lord Admiral Richard Howe and Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge. The talks occurred just two months after the Declaration of Independence had been signed, with the British controlling New York City, Long Island and Staten Island. The Americans seemed headed for defeat. Lord Howe offered to end the conflict if the Colonies would return to British control, but independence was not negotiable for the Americans.

Conference House, Conference House Park

Museum Administered by:
CONFERENCE HOUSE ASSOCIATION

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 171
Staten Island, NY 10307

Open to the public:
April 15 - November 15
Friday - Sunday, 1pm - 4pm
Call to confirm.
For more information, call (718) 984-6046.


So Franklin and company returned to Perth Amboy aboard Lord Howe's boat, reported to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and the war continued for seven more years.

After the Revolution, the house was confiscated by the State of New York; it served as a multi-family dwelling, a 19th-century hotel and as a rat-poison factory before being deeded to the City of New York in 1926. In 1929, the Conference House Association took over operation of the house and has taken care of it since that time.

The Conference House includes a large basement kitchen with glazed brick floors and a vaulted root cellar. On the main floor, original handhewn beams span the ceiling of the Conference Room; the second floor has three rooms and there is also a sizable attic. Today the only remaining object that belonged to the Billops is a 17th-century sea chest. Other notable furniture includes a double-backed Queen Anne settee and a kas, or Dutch cupboard. The furnishings date primarily from the 18th century and are simple and functional, though the house was quite luxurious in its day. Exhibitions demonstrate life in colonial times, while rose and herb gardens perfume the air of the park and provide the materials for lectures and classes on herbs.