Located at the Southern end of Staten Island the now 226 acre park (originally 932 acres) was originally known as The Manor of Bentley. In 1676 British Navy Captain Christopher Billop was given this piece of land. By 1680 Capt. Billop had built the above shown 2-floor stone house called The Conference House. Additions to the house continued through 1720.
During the American Revolution, Colonel Christopher Billop (Capt. Billop’s great-gandson) lived in the house. On September 11, 1776 (2 months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence) the Conference House was host to an attempted peace negotiation between the American colonies and the British. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge met with British Lord Admiral Richard Howe to try to negotiate a peace that would give the colonies independence from England but keep strong relations (at the time the British controlled all of New York City, Long Island and Staten Island). Although Howe himself wanted a peace his orders would not allow for any agreement that recognized the independence of the colonies. The Admiral made it very clear the British had no intention of entertaining the idea of independent colonies and that the revolution leaders would be severely punished after the British crushed the revolution. Benjamin Franklin and company made a hasty departure from the house after the first day of talks. The result was the 7 year American Revolutionary War.
Colonel Billop himself was a very forceful and unforgiving man, given to frequent fits of rage. During the war Colonel Billop was frequently kidnapped and held for ransom by the colonists. Colonel Billop became convinced someone in his house was informing the revolution of when he was in the house. Legend has it that one evening Colonel Billop saw a servent girl place a lamp in an upper floor window. Colonel Billop took this to be a signal to the revolution that he was home and proceed to accuse the girl of being a spy. He chased her through the upper floor to the downward stairs. It is not clear whether the Colonel pushed the girl down the stairs trying to kill her or she fell to her death trying to get away from Billop.
It is said her ghost and the ghost of British Redcoats who died in the house during the war still haunt the building today. Although the building is said to be very active the Conference House Association that manages the site refuses to allow paranormal investigations of the facility.