Historic Sites and Buildings
Rufus King lived in this mansion from 1806 intermittently until his death in 1827. It then became the residence of his son, John Alsop King, a New York legislator and Governor as well as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 1805, following his return from diplomatic service in Europe, the elder King purchased for a country retreat a 90-acre farmstead from the estate of the son-in-law of Rev. Thomas Colgan, who had served as a minister at the adjacent Grace Episcopal Church. The tract then extended eastward to the church and northward to present Grand Central Parkway.
The next year, King apparently utilized three existing buildings to construct a 17-room mansion, which featured English and Dutch Colonial elements and some Federal details. First, he enlarged a 2-1/2-story house with gambrel roof that Colgan had begun for a parsonage about 1750 by extending it eastward to create the present main house. From elsewhere on the premises, it appears that he moved two- and one-story buildings, apparently dating from the first half of the century, and added them in that sequence to the rear northeastern corner of the addition to form an ell, used for servants' quarters. Demonstrating his horticultural interests, he revamped the grounds in English style. Subsequently, in 1888-89, the King family sold much of the surrounding property.
Today the estate is hemmed in by extensive urbanization. The frame mansion, however, is in good condition and remains relatively unaltered. The generous horizontal proportions of the newer section of the main house give the manor its asymmetrical facade. Fluted Doric columns support the portico over the main entrance, a central Dutch door topped by a transom and flanked by side lights. Over the portico, whose cornice is dentiled, sits a Palladian window with segmental arch. Two interior chimneys rise from the roof. Later exterior modifications include several skylights, window shutters, and shingle siding over the original frame. The two additions that make up the ell each have end chimneys and gable roofs. The two-story unit adjacent to the main house is fronted by a columned porch.
The parlor and family room are to the west of the wide foyer. The latter room probably most closely approximates its general appearance during Rufus King's residency. A spacious, oval-ended dining room occupies the southeastern, or front, corner of the first floor. Behind it, or to the north, separated by a side hallway, a large serving pantry connects with the kitchen, in the ell. The second floor contains bedrooms, children's rooms, and a sitting room. The furnishings are a mixture of Colonial, Empire, and Victorian.
The village of Jamaica acquired the estate in 1897, a year after the death of King's granddaughter, Cornelia King. Later, when New York City annexed the village, it gained jurisdiction over the manor, which is part of 11-1/2-acre King Park. An office of the city's Departments of Parks is located in the ell. The King Manor Association of Long Island, Inc., preserves and cares for the interior of the main house, part of which is open to the public on a restricted basis. Rufus King is buried in the graveyard of nearby Grace Episcopal Church.
Last Updated: 29-Jul-2004