Gillibrand Pushes for Shelter Island's Sylvester Manor to Make National Historic Register

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for the National Park Service to put Sylvester Manor Educational Farm on Shelter Island on the National Register of Historic Places.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for the National Park Service to put Sylvester Manor Educational Farm on Shelter Island on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Sylvester Manor is a former 17th-century farmstead now being used as a nonprofit organic farm and educational center. 

"Sylvester Manor has a long and complex history over 11 generations on Shelter Island,” Ms. Gillibrand said in a release Monday. “This site has seen much transformation over those years and should be preserved for generations to come. I will continue to work hard to ensure the National Park Service grants this important designation to Sylvester Manor so it can have access to federal resources that will support the ability to further its mission in the community.”

The property was once Native American hunting and fishing grounds, and the Sylvester family, original European settlers, took it over in 1652. They were slaveholders from 1653 to 1820, and Nathaniel and Grizzell Sylvester were the largest slaveholders in New England during their time. 

Sylvester Manor Educational Farm serves is a nonprofit organic farm and cultural arts and educational center that practices organic farming and sustainability, which is taught to seasonal farm apprentices and local students. Art workshops, history programming, live performances, tours, and summer youth programs also take place.

In her letter to National Park Service director, Jonathan Jarvis, Ms. Gillibrand said the manor was "central in development of Long Island's agricultural industry," as it has a historic role as a food supplier, and was once the estate of Eben Norton Horsford, known as the father of modern food chemistry.

“As an archaeological and archival site, the Manor has already contributed over one million artifacts and 10,000 primary source documents which describe the quality of life on Long Island for over 400 years. Including the Manor on the National Registry would be an important recognition of Sylvester Manor’s contributions to the history of Long Island, and bring additional attention to the site, further attracting visitors and growing the region’s tourism economy.”

Such designation would make federal historic tax credits and other resources available.