This neo-Renaissance, Italianate style magnificent mansion is an excellent example of early 20th-century country house design, one of the few remaining of its kind on Staten Island. Often described as “Gatsby like”, this sprawling estate is truly a gem with ornate, ionic columns, arched windows, arts and crafts detailing, decorative iron railings, Tiffany stained glass motifs, a terracotta clay tile roof, front and rear porticos, decorative finials and borders and more.
It was built in 1908 as the country home of Louis Stirn and Laura Roebling-Stirn. Louis Stirn was born in a suburb of Franfurt, Germany and the son of a Lutheran clergyman and his devoted wife. At the age of 14, Louis Stirn left Germany for New York and later went on to became a silk merchant distributing silks, velvets, ribbons and chiffons to leading retailers like Marshall Field and Co.
When Louis Stirn moved to Staten Island he married Laura Natalie Methfessel in 1888. Laura was the daughter of Professor Anton Gotlieb Methfessel and Laura A. Roebling Methfessel. The professor was considered one of the most prominent educators on Staten Island and founded the Methfessel School in 1862. The boys boarding and day school would go on to become the Staten Island Academy. How interesting that this one home has connections to the family that built the Brooklyn Bridge and founded one of the best academic institutions on Staten Island. The Stirns took an active part in the community life of Staten Island. Louis Stirn was a member of the SI Chamber of Commerce, the Staten Island Civic League, and the Richmond County Country Club as well as the Manhattan Club.
Laura Stirn was a founder of the St. Cecilia Society of Staten Island (a women’s singing society) and was a member of the Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences, the Staten Island Bird Club, and the Garden Club of Staten Island. She was also an expert on Botany and horticulture, which would explain the home’s South facing, sun drenched Conservatory. With several arched, double paned French doors and floor to ceiling latticework walls, this is where Laura was known to cultivate and nurture her collection of rare, exotic plants.
The Italian Cultural Foundation’s mission is to preserve, promote and celebrate all things Italian. Individuals and families of all backgrounds who have an appreciation for arts, culture and cuisine are welcome. From language classes to cooking classes; from art exhibits to photo displays; from film festivals to fig festivals; from Opera Night to Big Band Orchestra Night; from group plays to one man shows; from Festa D’Italia to Carnevale; from lectures to presentations; from fashion shows to car shows….it all happens at Casa Belvedere.
The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere is currently in its sixth year of a $5 million dollar capital campaign for the continued preservation and restoration of the 14,000 square foot Landmark Building. $3 million dollars has already been raised predominantly from New York City and New York State capital improvement and historic preservation dollars. Additionally, private donors and private foundations have also contributed to that $3million total, but $2million in funds are still needed to complete the project. Help change Staten Island’s cultural and topographic landscape forever by making a tax-deductible donation today.