Staten Island

The Alice Austen House

The Alice Austen House, also known as Clear Comfort, is located at 2 Hylan Boulevard in the Rosebank section of Staten Island, New York City, New York. It was home of Alice Austen, a photographer, for most of her lifetime, and is now a museum and a member of the Historic House Trust. The house is administered by the 'Friends of Alice Austen', a volunteer group. Today, the Alice Austen House hosts many school programs, including photography summer camps and day trips for classes of all age groups.It was originally built in the 1690s/early 1700s as a one-room Dutch Colonial House on the shore of New York harbor, near the Narrows with brothers Jacob Johnson and Lambert Johnson being the likely first occupants. The brothers Johnson purchased 120 acres of land from George Brown in 1698. Jacob Johnson's mother-in-law was Winifred King Benham, who was tried for witchcraft in Wallingford, Connecticut and may have been a resident of the house after her acquittal and virtual banishment. The house was remodeled and expanded several times in the 1800s, most notably after John Haggerty Austen, Alice's grandfather, purchased, renamed, and remodeled it in 1844. TAG Alice Austen Camera It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, became a New York City Landmark in 1971. It was purchased by New York City in 1975 and opened to the public. In 1993 it became a National Historic Landmark, and in 2002, it became a Historic Artist Home and Studio.Alice Austen House participates as a museum in the Smithsonian program of Museum Day events. In 2016 Austen House presented its first juried triennial exhibition, Staten Island Unlimited featuring 35 photographers from three boroughs of New York. During the members' preview reception of the show, a toast was made to Alice Austen's 150th birthday. Other activities included Triennial Talks, discussions with artists about their work on the subjects of 'Staten Island as Place' and 'Staten Island as Community.' The first Staten Island Unlimited was supported by Macy's, Duggal, and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. The Alice Austen House permanent collection of Alice Austen's photography, including many of her documentary photos, is being digitized and presented on the museum's website. In March 2016, the Whitney Museum hosted New Eyes on Alice Austen, a panel discussion in honor of Women’s History Month and Alice Austen’s 150th birthday featuring, as reported in american Photo magazine, 'scholars, academics, and historians who have investigated her incredible work and unconventional lifestyle.' The Whitney program was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.An old neighborhood tradition told that, after midnight, one could hear the clanking of chains coming from the cellar. This was attributed to the ghosts of slaves who were kept there during the american Revolution. Another apocryphal story is that of a British soldier hanging himself from a beam in the parlor because of a broken heart. It is said that the sound of his military boots and the clinking of his spurs may be heard in that room after midnight.

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