June 22, 2024

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Standing outside a weathered century-old white ranch home with a dilapidated roof, Julie Moody Lewis peers through a glass door and points to the interior of the ailing structure, which is covered in floodwater and so overrun with mold no one can enter. But the historian says she’s determined to preserve and rebuild this important piece of the past.

The site, located at 1538 Woodrow Rd., is the museum run by the Sandy Ground Historical Society, which has preserved two centuries worth of rich culture – one that is a significant part of Staten Island, New York and American history.

“There is a broken water pipe in the museum, and we cannot even get in there to fix it. The city can’t turn off the water. They said we have to get a plumber. But we don’t have the money to get a plumber,” said Moody Lewis.

The structure is part of Sandy Ground (first known as Harrisville, Africa and Little Africa), which is the nation’s oldest free Black settlement still inhabited by descendants of the original settlers.

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Photo by Jason Paderon/Staten Island Advance

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