William T. and Mary Marcellite Garner Mansion, Staten Island
Address: Castelton & Bard Avenues
LPC Backlog Hearing: Removed from the calendar without prejudice
LPC Action: Two Public Hearings in 1966; Public Hearing 2010
This Second Empire style, brownstone mansion has had a number of uses in its lifetime. One of the few freestanding pre-Civil War era mansions surviving in the city, it was built by Charles Taber, a prominent cotton broker and real estate developer, in 1859-60 and was purchased a decade later William T. Garner, owner of one of the largest textile mills in the nation. Legend has it that the Garner Mansion almost became the summer home of Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia. Although the president liked the house, when Mrs. Grant visited the grounds were swarming with mosquitoes and she refused to live there. In the 1880s it housed St. Austin’s Episcopal School for Boys and later St. Austin’s Military Academy. In 1903 St. Vincent’s Hospital’s opened its first location on Staten Island in the building and soon after added a two-story Colonial Revival style wing to serve as a nurses training school. The W. T. Garner House is now part of Richmond University Medical Center.
LPC Statement of Significance:
The William T. and Mary Marcellite Garner Mansion is a rare, extant example of an unusually large 1859-60 mansion as well as an early example of a building designed using the Second Empire style in New York City. It is also significant as the original home of St. Vincent's Hospital on Staten Island, the second general-use hospital to be established on the island.
Faced in chiseled brownstone, the house achieves distinction through its monumental scale, massive stone construction, and austere but well-crafted details. The two-story-plus-attic building features a square four-story tower on the west facade facing Bard Avenue. Its notable features include the porte cochere with paired Tuscan columns that opens onto a recessed porch at the base of the tower. Denticulated and bracketed cornices are employed for the mansard roofs of the main house and the tower. The roofs still retain their arched dormers, although they have been simplified.
The house is one of the few freestanding pre-Civil War era mansions still surviving in New York City. It was probably built in 1859-60 by Charles Corey Taber, a prominent cotton broker and real estate developer. In 1870 it was purchased by William T. Garner, the immensely wealthy owner of Harmony Mills, one of the largest textile mills in the country. A vice-commodore of the New York Yacht Club, Garner owned the largest yacht in the world. In the 1880s the house became St. Austin's Episcopal School for Boys, later St. Austin's Military Academy. In 1903 is was acquired by the Sisters of Charity, who had established St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village. Originally envisioned as a convalescent hospital for tuberculosis patients, it became a general hospital that treated and employed generations of Staten Island's families. The Colonial Revival Style two-story frame addition at the rear of the house dating from c. 1903-06 was constructed for the hospital's Training School for Nurses.