Funding fuels rehabilitation of exterior building envelope of 1737 Sylvester Manor House 


On December 16, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the awarding of $24.3 million to 56 municipalities and nonprofit organizations for park improvements, heritage area enhancements and historic preservation projects through Round XII of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. The grants from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) are administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor was among the organizations to receive funding for historic preservation. The nonprofit was awarded the maximum $500,000 matching grant to help rehabilitate the exterior building envelope of the 1737 Sylvester Manor House, situated by the shore of Gardiners Creek within the 236-acre Sylvester Manor plantation remnant at 80 North Ferry Road on Shelter Island. It was one of only two organizations in Suffolk County to receive EPF Historic Preservation funding in 2022.

Governor Hochul said, “These grants underscore our commitment to investing in regional strengths to transform our communities into places where people live, work, and will visit for generations to come.”

Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation at State Parks Daniel Mackay said, “The rehabilitation of this historic place will not only ensure its longevity into the future, but will also allow it to continue to be an educational resource and interpretive tool for the public. The project embraces Sylvester Manor Educational Farm’s goals of sustainability and stewardship and we are excited to be part of this ambitious effort.”

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Linda Armyn, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, and President of Farmingdale State College Dr. John Nader said, “The rehabilitation of Sylvester Manor is an important step towards preserving this historical infrastructure and making it accessible to the public. Visitors will be able to delve into the history of the property, and the restored Manor will serve as a valuable educational resource. These preservation measures will ensure that Sylvester Manor’s storied past is preserved for future generations to appreciate and learn from.”

Sylvester Manor worked with historic preservation consultants Architectural Preservation Studio (APS) to complete a Sylvester Manor House Preservation and Maintenance Plan in late 2021. This comprehensive report informed the Consolidated Funding Application submitted in July 2022 to New York State, and will guide the preservation, rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance of the historic house. Work is expected to begin in mid-2023.

Sylvester Manor’s Executive Director Stephen Searl said, “Sylvester Manor’s staff, trustees and supporters are profoundly grateful to the Regional Economic Development Council and NYS Parks for recognizing and supporting this important effort. We are excited to begin the crucial preservation of this storied building. With this major capital grant, and the start of our ongoing 2023 capital campaign, we are ready for the work ahead that will sustain this historic resource for our growing numbers of visitors and for future generations.”

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele said, “The Sylvester Manor House Rehabilitation Project is a wonderful initiative to preserve one of Shelter Island’s most important historical buildings. For Long Island’s East End and for New York, Sylvester Manor has become a unique resource supported by the local community and friends worldwide. My sincere congratulations to the Educational Farm for being awarded this crucial grant. I look forward to seeing the impact of this essential project in the near future.”

Katie Eggers Comeau, Vice President for Policy and Preservation at the Preservation League of New York State, said, “The Preservation League has been pleased to support Sylvester Manor’s preservation work through our Preserve New York and Technical Assistance Grant programs, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts. We commend Sylvester Manor on the thoughtful stewardship of their historic resources and the development of interpretive programs that bring stories of the Indigenous heritage of Long Island, the role of the sugar trade, enslavement, the evolution of agriculture, and sustainable farm practices to life for the public. We congratulate Sylvester Manor on their $500,000 EPF Historic Preservation award and wish them every success moving forward!”

Amber Brach-Williams, Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Shelter Island, said, “The Town congratulates Sylvester Manor Educational Farm as a recipient of a $500,000 NYS EPF Parks Historic Preservation Program grant. Your efforts to preserve a cherished Shelter Island historical structure will be appreciated by generations of Shelter Islanders to come. Well done!”


Sylvester Manor: The lands of Shelter Island’s Sylvester Manor were home for millennia to indigenous Manhansett People. The 236-acre site is the most intact remnant of a former slaveholding plantation north of Virginia. Known today as Sylvester Manor, the site was home to eleven generations of Sylvester descendants, from 1652 until 2014, when it was gifted to the nonprofit organization Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. Over the past 370 years, Sylvester Manor has been a provisioning plantation, an Enlightenment-era farm, and a pioneering food industrialist’s summer estate; and today includes the 1737 Manor House, a restored 19th-century windmill, an Afro-Indigenous Burial Ground, a working farm, and educational and cultural arts programs open to all. Sylvester Manor was designated a Historic District of national significance on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

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