At the corner of East Road and Main Street is a charming wooden home called Blackwell House. Built in 1796 for the Blackwell family, who owned the island for many generations, this cottage is the sixth oldest farmhouse in New York City.
The original resident of the home was James Blackwell, whose father had inherited the island from his wife's stepfather, Captain John Manning, the Sheriff of New York. Since New York City purchased the island from the Blackwell family in 1823 to build institutions for the most populous city in the country, Blackwell House became a living quarters for wardens of the almshouse, the hospitals, and the penitentiary.
The exterior of the modest colonial home has been refurbished and the interior renovation is scheduled for completion in October 2020. Once open, areas of Blackwell House will become home to some of the island’s historical treasures, records, and archives. It will be used to tell the history of Roosevelt Island through exhibit elements, including images of the island’s landmarked structures and buildings, no longer standing, as well as community stories and experiences. The first floor will be open to the public during specified days and hours of the week for viewings and tours.