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To: The Honorable New York City Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Adams: Please Save Sandy Ground!
We, The Undersigned, being staunch believers in the importance of preserving our nation’s history and heritage, are more than concerned over the possibility of the oldest free Black settlement in the United States still inhabited by descendants disappearing off the map.
The Sandy Ground was founded on Staten Island in the 1820s well before the Civil War. Descendants of the settlers who founded Sandy Ground and later provided a haven of refuge for Black families who fled the scourge of slavery, still live there, and some of these families oversee the Sandy Ground Historical Society and Museum.
Today, the Museum is closed and in disrepair; its precious artifacts held in storage because of mold throughout the building due to a broken water pipe no one could afford to fix; walls waterlogged, ceilings caved in, and wood floors buckled. The past-due water bill is $15,000 and there is no funding to pay it. Property taxes have taken a toll. The pandemic heavily contributed to these circumstances.
Intervention is sorely needed to restore this and other historic buildings on the site, and to revitalize the Historical Society’s business operations.
Sad and very telling is one welcome sign to the community: so battered and worn, that the name “Sandy Ground” is scarcely visible!
Sandy Ground was deemed important enough to name our new Staten Island Ferry boat after. Important enough for the New York City Department of Education to include in their curriculum. And important enough to be a legacy of greatness to her inheritors. Preserving the site is not only important: it is a vital imperative.
We implore you to make restoration a reality at Sandy Ground, and to please forgive and expunge the water bill and property taxes.
Why is this important?
Sandy Ground is a historic site and community in Staten Island, New York City. It was founded as a free Black settlement in the United States well before the Civil War and was a haven for those fleeing the scourge of slavery. It also was a station stop for the Underground Railroad. It is listed on the National and State Register of Historic Places; and on the National Underground Network to Freedom trail as the official Louis Napoleon site.
The pioneers' descendants still live there. But today, the historic Museum is crumbling and in disrepair, and other original buildings are in need of restoration as well, because of lack of support and funding. Sandy Ground is considered an endangered site, and that is serious. We must not allow this essential part of our history and heritage to be reduced to the dust and lost forever!
(Top left photo courtesy of Sandy Ground Historical Society and Museum; top right, Staten Island Advance newspaper; bottom, Google.)