Photo of the Week: The Conference House, Staten Island, NY
The Conference House, also known as the Billopp House, is a colonial mansion in the Tottenville section of Staten Island, N.Y. It’s historically significant because on September 11th, 1776, Ben Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge held a Peace Conference here with British officials, in an attempt to stop the Revolutionary War. They failed.
The house was originally built in the late 1600s (no exact date is known), and belonged to a Captain Christopher Billopp, a British loyalist who settled in America. Future generations of the Billopp family also occupied the modest colonial home. Archaeological evidence suggests that prior to Billopp’s arrival, the area was settled by Native Americans. Today, the house is the only pre-Revolutionary War landmark still standing in New York City. It’s located on the western end of Staten Island, near New Jersey, and situated on the beautiful Conference House Park, which overlooks Raritan Bay.
Besides the historical significance of the Conference House, it is also a well-known haunted house. It is mentioned in just about every book on haunted locations in America. The house itself is small, but there are 2 floors, an attic that served as the slave quarters, and a basement which was used as the kitchen and food preparation area.
The main story associated with ghostly activity in the house regards Captain Billopp and one of the slave girls. Apparently, one day she was caught giving signals to the Americans across Raritan Bay by lighting a candle in her window at night, and Billopp (who was a British loyalist) either stabbed her at the top of the staircase, pushed her down the staircase to her death, or both. It is said that at night, sometimes a light can be seen in the Conference House window where she would signal from.
Although official investigations are not allowed by the Conference House, we have, in the past, been granted some exclusive access to the building after-hours as we were in good with the tour guides. And while we definitely captured some interesting things, the jury is still out on whether or not the Conference House is truly haunted.
All photos in our Photo of the Week series are taken by New York Paranormal Society team member Laura Pennace, who is a New York City wedding photographer specializing in city hall and courthouse weddings, as well as engagement and proposal shoots. You can see more of Laura’s work at Pennace Photography (www.pennacephotography.com)