Seguine Mansion, Lemon Creek Park
440 Seguine Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10307
Scheduled tours offered by the New York City Urban Park Rangers.
Along the southern shore of Staten Island, the Seguine Mansion, a stately Greek Revival structure, faces Prince's Bay. Built in 1838 by Joseph H. Seguine, the house is a physical reminder of the classical architecture and thriving commerce of Staten Island during the mid-19th century.
Sometime between 1780 and 1786, James Seguine bought a large parcel of land near Lemon Creek from Abraham Manee, whose French Huguenot family had held the land since about 1700. Joseph, James Seguine's grandson, and the fifth generation of the family on Staten Island, built the elegant two-and-a-half-story house, typical of high-style homes in the region at that time. He also added several outbuildings, including a large hay barn, carriage house and stables, to support his estate.
Joseph Seguine inherited the family's prosperous oystering business. A man of diverse pursuits, he also founded Staten Island Oil and Candlemaking, a manufacturing enterprise he built on the property; helped establish the Staten Island Railroad Company; and still found time to manage one of the largest salt hay farms in Richmond County.
Following Joseph's death in 1856, the house remained in the family until 1868. When it was sold, the amount of land had decreased to 10 acres. During the late 19th century, the building served as an inn or hotel, at a time when Prince's Bay had become a popular resort area. The house returned to Seguine descendants from 1916 through 1977 and was then sold at auction in 1981 to George Burke. Burke stabilized the deteriorated house in 1989 and donated it to the City of New York, while retaining a life interest.
The Seguine House is notable for its large portico with paneled piers surmounted by a classical pediment. Formerly sheathed with clapboard, it is insulated with brick and mortar. Fresh air from the sea was encouraged to circulate through the building's many windows and doors, which are arranged in classical symmetry. The house contains numerous fireplaces, some of which are "marbleized," as well as distinctive touches added by Burke.
Lemon Creek Park also contains a stable (and riding academy), a broad expanse of lawn that creates a wide vista to the water and natural terrain that is home to a large purple martin bird population. It is a place where history resides in unity with present occupants.