Located along the north shore of Staten Island near the ferry, Sailors Snug Harbor was originally built as a home for retired sailors, eventually becoming a cultural center for both Staten Island and the rest of New York.
The institution was founded in 1801 after Captain Robert Richard Randall’s (d. 1801) will specified that his Manhattan estate be used to start a marine hospital for “aged, decrepit and worn-out seamen.” The name Sailors Snug Harbor was suggested by Randall himself. At the time of his death, Randall’s estate, located north and east of modern-day Washington Square, was rural. By the time a protracted challenge to his will was settled, the land around the estate had changed dramatically, the city being developed around the area. Opting instead to maximize profits on the Manhattan property, Snug Harbor’s trustees relocated the proposed site to Staten Island, buying property around the harbor in 1831.
The first of Snug Harbor’s many buildings opened in 1833. Over time its initial group of 37 residents grew and more buildings were added, including the chapel, music hall, and more dormitories. Completed in 1830-31, Building C, the center building in a series of five Greek-revival style structures facing the water, is the home of the Main Hall of the Newhouse Gallery. The other four buildings were added in 1839-1841 and 1879-80, and are notable in that they exhibit a high degree of stylistic uniformity. The Chapel (1854) and its romantic Anglo-Italian style of architecture is also a landmark.