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One of the visable landmarks one sees when docking at St. George Terminal on the Staten Island Ferry would be a classic style Gothic high school on the top of the hill to the right - Curtis High. It is named after one of the founders of the Republican Party.

George William Curtis

Curtis produced a number of volumes, composed of essays written for Putnam's and for Harper's Weekly, which came in rapid succession from his pen. The chief of these were the Potiphar Papers (1853), a satire on the fashionable society of the day; and Prue and I (1856), a pleasantly sentimental, fancifully tender and humorous study of life. In 1855 he married Anna Shaw, daughter of abolitionist Francis Shaw and sister of Robert Gould Shaw of the famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Not long afterwards he became, through no fault of his own, deeply involved in debt owing to the failure of Putnam's Magazine; and his sense of honour compelled him to spend the greater part of his earnings for many years on discharging the obligations for which he had become responsible, and from which he might have freed himself by legal process. In the period just preceding the Civil War, other interests became subordinate to those of national concern. He was involved in the founding of the Republican Party, and made his first important speech on the questions of the day at Wesleyan University in 1856; he engaged actively in John C. Fremont's presidential campaign of that year (the Republican campaign headquarters were located not far from his Staten Island home), and was soon recognized not only as an effective public speaker, but also as one of the ablest, most high-minded, and most trustworthy leaders of public opinion.


His 1859 mansion (Bard and Henderson) was being restored last year, now finished, per my photo above. Curtis was brother in law to famous Civil War Hero Robert Gould Shaw. Shaw’s father had a house some four or five blocks from the present still existing Curtis Mansion. I would assume since it was built about the same time and by relatives so to speak, it had a good chance of looking similar on the exterior.

Robert Gould Shaw

Staten Island then was still both a summer destination from the heat of a Manhattan Sunmer, being on the cooler side, the Jersey side, of New York Harbor as well as being a year round suburb for commuting to NYC on ferries to downtown NYC. The north shore of Staten Island is the older settled part of the island and the closest to Manhattan.

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