Lighthouse Hill is the southernmost hill of Staten Island’s range and overlooks Historic Richmond Town, which is below the hill. This neighborhood is bounded to the east by Rockland Avenue, to the south by Richmond Road and to the north and west by LaTourette Park and Golf Course. Lighthouse Hill, which was home to almost 1,800 people at the time of the 2000 census, occupies less than a square mile, much of it is dense with tall trees that overhang narrow and winding streets. The general lack of sidewalks intensifies the suburban ambience and walking along some streets it is possible to gaze over the roofs of houses built into the steep hill and see across Staten Island to the New York Harbor and Atlantic Ocean.
None of the houses in Lighthouse Hill are the same; they are all custom made and, of Staten Island’s many neighborhoods, are only rivaled by those of Todt Hill. Many of the homes have a colonial influence but the streets are lines also with Victorian and turn-of-the-century manors steeped in New York history. Before its current name, Lighthouse Hill was known as Richmond Hill or Richmond Road and was home to the “Richmond Seminary for Young Ladies,” a finishing school for wealthy young girls from around the country. The establishment only lasted until 1852, when it was revamped by its owner John H. Powell and converted into the Richmond Hill Hotel, which closed in 1870 . The name was changed when Richmond Light, which is also known as the Staten Island Lighthouse and the Ambrose Channel Range Light, was erected there. The 90-foot structure was built in 1912, at the corner of Lighthouse Avenue and Edinboro Road. It stands 141 feet above sea level and can be seen from twenty miles away.
The Staten Island Lighthouse was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1968 and is still used to this day by the United States Coast Guard. There are many famous houses on Lighthouse Hill. The most famous of all is the Crimson Beech, which is the only house in New York City that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright was an architect who was well-known for his eleven Marshall Erdman Prefab Houses. Crimson Beech is included in these. The house was manufactured in Madison, Wisconsin and shipped to Staten Island. In 1959, it was erected for Catherine and William Cass. Crimson Beech was named for a beech tree which once stood on the property.
Lighthouse Hill is the southernmost of the chain of hills that radiate from the northeast corner of Staten Island and separate its East Shore from the region behind the hills, usually referred to as Mid-Island by island residents. Richmond Creek flows near the bottom of the hill’s eastern ridge, and it is surrounded on all sides by parks belonging to the Staten Island Greenbelt, with the LaTourette Golf Course at the hill’s southern margin.
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