Office of Borough President James P. Molinaro
Staten Island, New York
Alice Austen House Museum and Park
The Alice Austen House was built in 1690. In 1844 it was purchased by John Haggerty Austen, Alice Austen's grandfather, a well-to-do businessman, whose wife gave the house the name Clear Comfort.
John Austen's original intent was to use Clear Comfort as a summer home, but in 1852, following the illnesses and deaths of two infant sons, Austen moved his family from Manhattan to permanent residency on Staten Island. In the late 1860s Clear Comfort's most famous resident, Alice Austen (1866-1952), and her mother, Alice Cornell Austen, also moved into the family home after they had been abandoned by Alice's father.
Alice Austen would become one of America's earliest and most accomplished women photographers. Alice's devotion is evident in her photographs. Her home was frequently the backdrop and the subject of her images as she recorded in extensive and loving detail family members, visitors, and happy events.
Alice Austen spent most of her life at Clear Comfort until financial problems and illness forced her to move in 1945. In her absence, the house fell into disrepair until a group of concerned citizens saved it from demolition in the 1960's.
Restoration was begun in January 1984 and completed in April 1985. Because of its historic significance, the Alice Austen House was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, was designated a New York City Landmark in 1971, and a National Historic Landmark in 1993.
Alice's own photographs of the interior and exterior of the house and grounds made an exact restoration possible-from the rustic post gate to the 1879 Statue of Liberty on the parlor mantelpiece (given by the American Committee for contributing to construction costs of the Statute's base).
Today, the Alice Austen House serves as a museum of Alice Austen's life and times. Located at the entrance to New York Harbor, the Alice Austen House is a reminder of the picturesque suburban "cottages" that dotted the shore and hills of 19th century Staten Island. The house and grounds recall the home as Alice knew it and a way of life that has passed into history.
Address: 2 Hylan Boulevard
Phone number: 718-816-4506
Admission: A suggested donation of $2.00
Hours of Operation: The house is open all year (except January, February and major holidays). Thursday through Sunday 12:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. The grounds are open every day until dusk.
Alice Austen House website:
Photo by Chris J. Johns