6136 Amboy Road House, Staten Island
Address: 6136 Amboy Road House
Constructed: c. 1850-55
LPC Action: Public Hearing in 2007
LPC Backlog Hearing: Removed from the calendar without prejudice
The Joseph H. and Rebecca Sprague house is an interesting example of a house combining vernacular architectural elements with later popular styles. Bell-cast eaves, which protect exterior walls from rainwater running off the roof, are a common detail in Staten Island architecture dating back to the late 17th century and incorporated into later styles. In this case, the eave features a detailed classical cornice supported by large columns creating a Greek Revival portico. The eaves are decorated with curvilinear, jigsawn bargeboards, a sign of the Gothic Revival just coming into fashion on Staten Island at the time the house was built. Throughout the 19th century the home’s occupants were oystermen reminding one of the importance of the oyster trade to the development of this area of Staten Island.
LPC Statement of Significance:
Located on Amboy Road near Woodvale Avenue, this two-story frame house, constructed c. 1850-55 by boat man Joseph H. Sprague and his wife Rebecca, is a rare transitional mid-nineteenth century vernacular design combining traditional spring-eave construction with Greek Revival and Gothic Revival elements. The French-derived flared projecting or bell-case eave was widely used on Staten Island from the late seventeenth century on. It became so firmly established in Staten Island building tradition that when the Greek Revival came into vogue the form was carried over and incorporated into buildings in the new style. Here the spring eave is articulated by a classical cornice carried on giant columns forming an imposing Greek Revival style portico. The influence of the Gothic Revival style, just coming into fashion on Staten Island in the early 1850s, is evident in the employment of curvilinear jigsawn bargeboards on the sloping eaves of the side gable of the main house and rear wings. The house also features a handsome entry with wide pilasters flanking narrow sidelights and a paneled door. The delicate broken pediments above the entry and two first-story facade windows are probably Colonial Revival style alterations as is the large round attic window which originally contained delicately leaded stained glass. Although the house retains its historic form and molded ornament, it was recently resided. The distinctive historic wrought iron railings are not original to this property.
In the summer of 1855 this house was purchased by boatman Henry Johnson, who like Joseph Sprague, was involved in the oyster trade. Johnson died a few years after, acquiring the house. His widow Phebe Johnson occupied the house until 1863. In the 1870s, it was occupied by the family of oysterman Joseph Jacklin. This continuous use by oystermen speaks to the importance of the oyster trade in the historical development of this area of Staten Island. A later owner, Hervery allen (resided in the house, c. 1900-1920s), was a machinist and later a foreman at the nearby S.S. White dental works, one of Staten Island's largest employers.