The Alice Austen House Museum on Staten Island recalls the world of an exceptional woman, photographer Alice Austen. Austen's quaint, Victorian cottage-style home, with a magnificent view of New York Harbor, displays prints from the large glass negative collection of her work that depict turn-of-the-century American life.
The original house, one of the City's oldest, dates back to the 1690s. Once part of a farm near the scenic Narrows, the property was bought in 1844 by John H. Austen, Alice's grandfather. Austen expanded the small, one-and-a-half-story farmhouse, named it "Clear Comfort" and gave it a romantic Gothic Revival facelift that included steeply peaked dormer windows and flourishes of "gingerbread" wood trim. The parlor is restored to look as it did in the 1890s with an arrangement of ornate period furniture, rugs, Delft fireplace tiles and Oriental vases.
Alice Austen was born nearby at Woodbine Cottage in 1866. After her father abandoned the family, she and her mother moved into her grandparents' home. Alice continued to live in the house until 1945. Taught by her uncle, Austen took up photography with a passion, shooting more than 7,000 pictures that captured a quieter Staten Island, as well as a growing, bustling New York City.
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