The Conference House

In 1846, a local Staten Island historian, Gabriel P. Disosway, published an article about the house and its place in the history of the American Revolution.  He expressed hope that the house would be saved.  Although the owners of the house did not share Disosway’s concern, public interest in preservation was growing steadily nationwide.  In 1886, a bill was introduced in the New York State legislature to acquire the Conference House for museum purposes.  The bill did not pass, but enough interest had been generated that it was reintroduced in 1896, 1901, and again in 1909.

In April 1926, Harmon National Real Estate, which had just acquired the property in 1925, gave the Billopp House one acre of land to the City of New York for use as a park, recreational area and museum.  During this time, the Conference House became the first house museum on Staten Island; however, the house had been heavily deteriorated and was even in danger of being razed.

A group of local preservationists realized that its destruction would mean the loss of an important piece of American history.  This group, the Conference House Association, was formed on September 21, 1925, and would oversee the reconstruction of the house, furnish the newly restored rooms, and open the house as a museum.  The first officers and trustees included members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), business and civic leaders, historians, and local preservationists.

“…it is the idea of the Association to so reconstruct the building that it may look as nearly as possible as it did when the famous Conference took place on September 11, 1776.”