The Conference House

After entering the front door of the beautiful brown brick home, which faces the water, you see a print on the wall to the right that illustrates the 9/11/1776 Peace Conference. I was greeted by John who was proudly sporting a Conference House shirt, who gave me a detailed description of the event. The room to my left was the Parlor and as John described it was the place where the 9/11/1776 Peace Conference took place. The Peace Conference was attended by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge who all met with Lord Admiral Howe. Thus the name “conference house”. Stunning pieces set inside the room included a blue Queen Anne settee (love seat). To the right there is a Formal Dinning Room and a beautiful wooden grandfather clock. Up stairs there is the Children’s bedroom  that is decorated with Blue sheeted pencil post bed and 2 cradles. 2 other rooms upstairs included a Study and Master Bedroom. A large Dutch cupboard is assembled on the left hand side of the fireplace. There was a fireplace in all bedrooms and John explained that during winter the house would be bitter cold, there for the Billopp family would put coals from the fire under the bed mattress to keep them warm. Heading back down stairs there is a kitchen located in the basement. There I was shown a beautiful beehive oven where all the slaves and servants would do all the cooking. on the far end of the oven there is a huge brick lined vault which they would use for storage of all the meats, and produce the family harvested. I was greatly surprised by the amount of space that was on the inside of the house, the outside is extremely misleading of its true size. I learned that the Conference House is owned by the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation. The program is supported by public funds from NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs and also donations. According to the Conference House website:

“In 1846, a local Staten Island historian, Gabriel P. Disosway, published an article about the house and its place in the history of the American Revolution.  He expressed hope that the house would be saved.  Although the owners of the house did not share Disosway’s concern, public interest in preservation was growing steadily nationwide.  In 1886, a bill was introduced in the New York State legislature to acquire the Conference House for museum purposes.  The bill did not pass, but enough interest had been generated that it was reintroduced in 1896, 1901, and again in 1909.”

Standing there as a native Staten Islander I felt guilty for not having experienced the history of my environment. This project has helped me want to explore more of the island I have a love hate relationship with. I am thankful for the people in late 1800’s who realized that this was a piece of Staten island that needed to be kept in our history for centuries to come


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