Bay Villa, the lost Stokes mansion on Staten Island
Image via Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries

Our quest to revive the lost mansions of New York continues as we travel to Staten Island. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Staten Island was a popular destination for wealthy New Yorkers looking to create a country retreat, while remaining in close proximity to the hustle and bustle of the city. As real estate development picked up in the 1900s, these grand estates were split into smaller lots, and their massive houses were abandoned as owners sought other locales. Here, we explore the lost mansions of Staten Island that once belonged to Vanderbilts, beer barons, actors, and more!

1. Hormann Castle, Grymes Hill

From the New York Public Library

This fairytale castle that once stood upon Grymes Hill was built in 1910 by William Hormann, heir to the Rubsam and Horrmann Brewing Co. fortune. The Stapleton brewing company was founded by William’s father, August, in 1871. William’s castle was inspired by castles found on the Rhine in Germany, his family’s homeland. The grand mansion with an imposing tower with an open-air onion-topped turret sat on 11 acres of land high above the town of Stapleton with a view out to New York Harbor.

The Hormanns sold their storybook home in 1945 to the Roman Catholic Presentation Sisters. Nuns who taught at St. Clare’s School in Great Kills lived there until 1965. Just two years later, the abandoned mansion near present day Eddy Street was demolished. Today, the gated community of Howard Circle stands in its place.