Alice Austen House | A Staten Island Historical Home

Posted by Tom Crimmins Realty on Sunday, November 12th, 2017 at 11:34am.

The Alice Austen House, also known as Clear Comfort, is nestled in Rosebank at 2 Hylan Boulevard. It received its name from Alice Austen, one of America's earliest and most accomplished women photographers.

History Behind The Alice Austen House

Originally, this home was built as a one room Dutch farmhouse, but was saved from demolition in the 1960s. The home, built in the 1690s, was purchased by John Haggerty Austen, Alice Austen's Grandfather. Circa 1725, the room that became the present parlor was added, and at mid century, the dining room/kitchen wing was constructed. Throughout this 25 year period which John Austen took to restore the home, he was able to alter the original home into a Victorian Gothic cottage. In the late 1860s is when the home's most famous resident, Alice Austen, came to live along with her mother, after being abandoned by Alice's father. Alice's uncle, Oswald Muller, who also lived with her in Clear Comfort, was actually the one who introduced her to photography at the age of ten, eventually allowing her to become one of America's earliest women photographers.

Restorations and Landmark Designation

The home remained in the Austen family for 100 years, filled with many fun family memories. Therefore when financial problems and illness arose forcing Alice to move, it was a heartbreaking time. After her departure, the home became dilapidated and on the verge of complete destruction. Fortunately, a group of concerned citizens launched an altruistic pursuit to save the house and grounds. A total of $1,050,000 was received from the City's capital budget, sparking the restoration process, which began in January 1984 and was completed in April of 1985. In 1970 the home was recognized in the National Register of Historic Places, it was designated a New York City Landmark in 1971, and a National Historic Landmark in 1993. Additionally, the Friends of Alice Austen House Inc. was created in the 1960s and incorporated in 1979 to promote Clear Comfort and the accomplishment of Alice Austen. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, operates the house and garden as a historic house museum and continues to restore it.

This beautiful home stands as one of the first photographic museums in the U.S, while also giving us a little glimpse of Staten Island's living history. Stay tuned to our website to see the multitude of other historical landmark homes located throughout Staten Island.

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