Alice Austen House, 2 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10305, USA

The Story

The House of an Artist

Art is the keyword for this ancient Dutch colonial house, whose original structures date back to the 1690s. Alice Austen, a renowned photographer, transformed the second-floor closet of her waterfront home into a darkroom, where she crafted over 7,000 images capturing the evolving landscape of New York City. 

Embracing a nomadic approach to her art, Austen, one of America’s pioneering female photographers, reflected in her photographs both public life and personal experiences, offering a glimpse into the world of a lesbian woman defying strict Victorian norms. 

Alice Austen’s House: a Landmark for LGBTQ+ History

Given what we know about the famous artist, it’s no wonder that the Alice Austen House is also known as a landmark for LGBTQ+ history in New York. Partnered with Gertrude Tate for 53 years, they forcibly separated from their cherished home in 1945, leading to Austen’s final years in a nursing home. While Austen’s legacy was rediscovered in 1951, her family tragically denied her dream of resting beside Tate in eternity.

From a Simple Dutch Farmhouse to a Victorian Gothic Cottage

The house, which was bought by Austen’s grandfather in 1844, sits at the entrance to New York Harbor and preserves the typical suburban cottage style that was so popular on the shores of Staten Island at the time. John Austen, the photographer’s grandfather, had the house extensively restored and its style switched from a Dutch farmhouse to a Victorian Gothic cottage. This can be noticed in the dormer windows embellished with Victorian bargeboards and birdhouse finials, as well as in the decorative cresting and octagonal chimney pots.

The Alice Austen House Today

Today, the Alice Austen House is a famous photography museum that also hosts events and workshops. Its gardens and park are nationally recognized sites of LGBTQ+ significance.




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