The 1897 Rossville AME Zion Church is a rare and important surviving building from the period when Sandy Ground was a prosperous African American community on Staten Island.
The founder and first minister of the church was William H. Pitts, a Virginia-born African Methodist Episcopal Zion minister who purchased land in Sandy Ground in May 1849, began holding prayer services in his home, and formally established the church in December 1850. By 1890 the congregation had outgrown its first church and purchased this site.
The present building was constructed in 1897 by Tottenville builder-developer Andrew Abrams. Originally a simple clapboarded vernacular frame structure with a gabled entrance porch, the building has been reclad with faux brick siding but retains its original form and fenestration pattern. It survives as a tangible link to the rich history of the Sandy Ground community.
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society