It is said that the Holy Spring House was where the first Roman Catholic services were performed on the South Shore of Staten Island, but has yet to be proven definitively [note: as reader Chris F correctly points out (see comment below), Governor Dongan, an Irish Catholic, had his mansion on the North Shore; it stands to reason that R.C. services were performed there or in the vicinity]. The Great Kills house that once stood on Giffords Lane at Dewey Ave had a spring in the basement in which a priest blessed the waters that emanated from it. As there were no R.C. churches in the vicinity at the time, this house served as a place of worship for island Catholics in the very early 1800’s.

The Holy Spring house stood until the early 1970’s, when it was consumed by fire. The fire was reported by residents as “spectacular”; the timbers being so old and dry, the flames were “high and bright” and could be seen from miles away [as reported by Carol M.].

As it looks today: N/E Corner – Giffords Lane & Dewey Ave, where the Holy Spring House once stood.


  1. No. The first Catholic Masses on Staten Island were said in the Dongan House, a hunting lodge/”mansion” that once stood on Dongan Street near Richmond Terrace. The house was built in the 1680s for Governor Thomas Dongan, the royal governor of NY who was Catholic and who brought three Jesuit priests to New York as his chaplains. The house was destroyed by fire in the latter 1800s. The Holy Spring house was probably/possibly a stop for Father Ferdinand Steinmeyer, alias “Father Farmer” — a Jesuit who traveled from Philadelphia (in Pennsylvania, which had religious freedom) through NY and NJ ministering to Catholics in the 1770s even though by then it was illegal (theoretically, death) for a priest to even set foot in NY.


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