Now, we're sure you're asking yourself, what is a Colonial house doing in the middle of a bunch of apartment towers? Well, first of all, it's a Georgian house, not Colonial (we're not architecture snobs, we  promise).  Second of all, this house was here long before anything of the other buildings on the island, and is the first New York City Landmark on our tour.  

    Named after its original owner Jacob Blackwell, the Blackwell house was built between 1796 and 1804 as the main house on Blackwell's Island. After Blackwell's descendants sold the island to the City of New York in 1828, the house managed to survive as the warden's house of Blackwell Penitentiary.  By the early 20th century, however, the house had fallen into severe disrepair; and by the time architect Georgio Cavaglieri had decided to landmark and restore the house in 1970, it was almost close to collapse.

        Tragically, the original plan to transform the house into a teacher's headquarters and classrooms had to be scrapped after a fire gutted the restored house.  The restoration was begun again and finally finished in 1976.  Unfortunately, the house has never functioned as it was meant to, but there's hope: with help from the city's Municipal Art Commission, a grant has been awarded to remodel the interior of the house to make it a community center, with room on the second and third floors for the Roosevelt Island Historical Society and their archives. When we open you should stop in and say hello!

    Check out the Blackwell's New York City Landmark Designation here to see why it's so special.

North Tour Stop 4: Blackwell House


Blackwell House, Old and Wooden

Walk North up Main StreetTour_North_5__UDC_Housing.html
Next Stop: UDC HousingTour_North_5__UDC_Housing.html
List of Stops List_of_Stops.html






Getting AroundGetting_Around.html
Roosevelt Island Historical Tourindex.html

Marena Wisniewski