Where was colonial Manhattan’s Richmond Hill?

If you live in the area bound by Varick, Charlton, MacDougal, and King Streets on the western edge of SoHo, then you’re a resident of a neighborhood once called Richmond Hill.

The name comes from the circa-1760 colonial mansion and bucolic estate that once stood nearby.

The Richmond Hill mansion (below right) was really something. “The big house, a massive wooden structure of colonial design, had a lofty portico supported by Ionic columns,” reports a Villager article from 1945.

“A long curving driveway led up to the house which was built on a wooden mound. Fretted iron gates guarded the entrance.”

It hosted a succession of famous names: George Washington, John Adams, and Aaron Burr.

Abigail Adams described the estate’s beauty: “On one side we see a view of the city and of Long Island. The river [is] in front, [New] Jersey and the adjacent country on the other side. You turn a little from the road and enter a gate. A winding road with trees in clumps leads to the house, and all around the house it looks wild and rural as uncultivated nature. . . .”

Burr sold it to John Astor around 1807. He subdivided lots for development, and the Richmond Hill neighborhood sprang up in early 19th century—small Federal-style homes, many of which are still on Charlton, King (above), and other blocks off lower Sixth Avenue.

The old mansion operated as a resort, roadhouse, and theater until it was razed in 1849. With the house gone, the neighborhood name died too.

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7 Responses to “Where was colonial Manhattan’s Richmond Hill?”

  1. focusoninfinity Says:

    Aaron Burr: My ancestor Thomas Malone, Sr. (son of Bute/Warren Cos, N.C., Ens Wood Malone, son of John Malone of Malone’s Bridge, Dinwiddie Co., Va.) arrived Ft. St. Stephens, Alabama, as U.S. Land Office agent, U.S. Magistrate, Asst. Indian Agent, and Clerk of Court.

    Malone and Capt. Edmund Pendleton Gains were playing cards one rainy night, when Aaron Burr in disguise was reported in the area. Supposedly Burr was dressed as a peasant, but Burr’s mount was that of a gentlemen. Something was ‘fishy’?

    Malone did not want to leave, but Capt. Gaines and Malone found Burr and took Burr to trial, Richmond, Va. (Pickering’s Alabama Biographies).

    At a crossroads, Burr’s Rock, South Carolina; Burr escaped and sought sucker from the inhabitants.. Possibly they did not recognize him? Seeing the futility of his escape, Burr surrendered to Malone. Malone wept at the fallen plight of this once great man, head of Princeton University.

  2. Parnassus Says:

    Usually when an important building is torn down, we are left with a parking lot or some hideous replacement, so those handsome brick houses are quite a pleasant consolation prize.

    Your recent posts seem to turn into song lyrics:

    The Lass of Richmond Hill.

    On Richmond Hill there lives a lass
    More bright than May-day morn,
    Whose charms all others maids’ surpass,
    A rose without a thorn.

    This lass so neat,
    With smiles so sweet,
    Has won my right good will.
    I’d crowns resign
    To call thee mine,
    Sweet lass of Richmond Hill.

    I often hum this, with its oddly equivocal lyrics–was she the most charming or the least? (The song refers to a Richmond Hill in England)
    –Road to Parnassus

  3. BabyDave Says:

    Thanks for the post. It’s right around the corner and I never knew.

  4. Aaron Burr once owned this $5.75M West Village townhouse | Ask Csaba Says:

    […] It’s believed instead that the home stands on land once owned by Burr for his country estate, Richmond Hill, which once stood around Downing and Bedford streets in the West […]

  5. One Collector Says:

    I’m not sure weather he owned this property, however I own a “abstract of title” for 39 carmine Street ( between Bedford and Bleeker) it states he bought the property in 1793 from John de Peyslet and his wife Elizebeth .

  6. Trump Wanted to bomb Russian Targets in Syria – “Mad Dog” Mattis saved Us. Russia and US vow not to go to War over Syria. – aladdinsmiraclelamp Says:

    […] son Edmund in his treason trial and when acquitted fled to England using money forwarded to him by John Jacob Astor, a prominent director of several state banks. State banks could be, and often were, controlled by […]

  7. brendan amoruso Says:

    Any chance you have information on the federal houses on grand street? Particularly the history of 192 Grand St? It was my families restaurant for 50 years, and from what I know from researching online is that the row was built by the rensselaer family in the mid 1800s, and at 192 there was a leather maker in the 1800s, later Iriving Maltman’s Glass shop (specializing in mirrors) and finally Florio’s Ristorante, (my families italian place, great cigars too!!)

    Anyway, i appreciate your research and love reading your columns.


    Brendan Amoruso

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