March 17, 2016
8 things to know about historic Westerleigh on Staten Island’s North Shore
One well-known, 11-acre farm was located on land bounded by what is now Jewett Avenue, Westcott Boulevard, Constant Avenue, and Margaretta Court.
The farm was run by Georg Frederick Keiber and his wife Margaret, who immigrated from Germany in 1881.
Click here for a gallery of 11 priceless historic photographs, including ones of Keiber farm’s fruit orchards and the family’s clapboard home.
Here are some other historic facts about Westerleigh, as published on the website of the city Department of Parks and Recreation:
1. Westerleigh Park and the neighborhood of Westerleigh take their name from the Westerleigh Collegiate Institute of Staten Island, once located nearby and founded at the end of the 19th century.
2. First purchased in 1848 by John Vanderbilt, the property that is now is Westerleigh Park was sold by his daughter Sarah to Christopher S. Williams and William H. Boole in 1887. Williams and Boole bought the property on behalf of the National Prohibition Party, for the creation of a summer retreat.
3. By July of the next year, the National Prohibition Campground Association had built a large camping facility — complete with ballfields, tennis courts, a lecture platform, a bowling alley, stables, woodlands, ponds, and a spring — to provide months of productive relaxation to members of the Party and followers of the Prohibition Movement.
4. This period was the height of the anti-alcohol movement, and the campground was busy with meetings, lectures, and religious services in addition to more recreational activities.
5. The number of visitors to the camp declined slowly but steadily as the 1880s came to a close. Westerleigh made the transition from a tent-dotted summer community to a real neighborhood with year-round residents. Permanent streets and sidewalks were laid, and the Dutch Colonial and Victorian houses that are still characteristic in the area were built.
6. Westerleigh Collegiate Institute was founded in 1895. It was the first school on Staten Island to provide a complete kindergarten-to-college education. The neighborhood, previously called National Prohibition Park, gradually came to be known as Westerleigh.
7. The site of Westerleigh Park — bounded by Maine, Springfield, Neal Dow, and Willard avenues — was donated to the City in 1907 by the National Prohibition Park Company. At that time, it was a part of the 15-acre “picnic grove,” or “pleasure grove” of the National Prohibition Park complex. The property was donated with the understanding that it would be used for public recreational purposes and events.
8. In 1923, the Staten Island Parks Department constructed a large octagonal bandstand in the Westerleigh park. Concerts there quickly became popular, drawing crowds of up to 500. Children’s plays were also performed at the bandstand.