5. Vanderbilt Homestead, New Dorp

Vanderbilt Homestead
Photo from New York Public Library.

Another New York Vanderbilt estate that once stood on Staten Island belonged to Cornelius’ son William Henry Vanderbilt and his wife Maria Kissam. Built circa 1850 in New Dorp, it stood on the Vanderbilt farm which had been in Cornelius’ Van Derbilt family since 1718. The farmhouse built for William ” the Blockhead” as his father unaffectionately called him, had 24 rooms and was painted white.

Despite his father’s misgivings, William would go on to be one of the richest men in America after turning the family farm into a profitable business and reviving the bankrupt Staten Island Railroad. He and his wife raised their children at the farmhouse and lived there until 1864 when William joined his father’s railroad business. The “White House” as they called it was used as a country home. It eventually passed to their son George upon William’s death in 1885. George had the house relocated to another spot on the property and built a new house of his own. Both homes were eventually demolished and the farmland was sold to the government after World War I and turned into Miller Field, an Air Coast Defense station. The station was decommissioned in 1969 and is now a Gateway National Recreation Area.