2. The Commodore’s Mansion, Stapleton on Staten Island

The Commodore’s Mansion is now a Chinese restaurant.

The Commodore’s Mansion, built for Cornelius Vanderbilt I and his wife Sophia Johnson, was constructed in 1839 between Stapleton and Tompkinsville. This was the first mansion built by the founder of the Vanderbilt family fortune, often considered the finest home on Staten Island at the time. Vanderbilt built the mansion on the northeast corner of his father’s farm and just a short walk from his mother’s house. The home overlooked the bay at Stapleton, and Vanderbilt built a low stone wall along a road that ran alongside the water for extra privacy.

Vanderbilt spent $27,000 on his 40-foot-tall mansion, whose architect is unknown. The home was built in “modified Gothic” style with six fluted columns and a Grecian portico. It was constructed of yellow Virginia pine, with imported materials such as Egyptian marble, French plate and South American mahogany. But just six years after its construction, Vanderbilt’s business became so large that he and his wife moved to Manhattan, which greatly disappointed Sophie. The home was then bought by financier George Law, which was later sold to George H. Daley. It was badly damaged by a fire in 1882, and although it was still standing in 1905, it was later demolished. Today, a row of low-rise buildings stand in its place, which include a Chinese take-out restaurant on the ground floor.