Most prominent is the lighthouse. The 90-foot-tall octagonal tower, which dates from 1912, lost its last keeper in 2001, but continues to operate autonomously, helping ships navigate the Ambrose Channel between New Jersey and Queens. Little lighthouse-shaped birdhouses and mailboxes in some of the surrounding homes suggest its role as a neighborhood mascot.
Another attraction is the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art. Ms. Marchais, a collector of Tibetan and Indian artifacts, built the fieldstone complex and terraced garden next to her home in the style of a Himalayan Buddhist monastery, with rocks handpicked on road trips around Staten Island. She died only months after it opened in 1948. Today the museum offers rotating exhibitions and tai chi and meditation classes that residents enjoy.
Just beyond the neighborhood’s southern border is Historic Richmond Town, a museum complex with about 30 antique buildings and frequent culinary and cultural events. The Amessés said they like to round up friends and walk to its tavern concerts and chili cook-offs.
Lighthouse Hill is also the beneficiary of the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in New York City. It is one of the architect’s late designs — a sleek experiment in prefabricated construction that looks a bit like a very long and attractive diner. This 1959 building is known as the Crimson Beech after a tree on the property that has since perished. The home is privately owned, which means that the many devotees of Mr. Wright who flock to it must gawk from the street.
Roger Morace is an architect who recently moved to Lighthouse Hill, but in his case it was a homecoming. Born and raised in the community, he left for college in upstate New York, later returning to Staten Island to work in his family’s architecture firm in neighboring Richmondtown. Mr. Morace and his wife, Allison, spent a year sifting through the sparse housing inventory before they found a way back onto Lighthouse Hill. Last year, they paid $650,000 for a 1952 raised ranch house with two bedrooms on Lighthouse Avenue.
Having family nearby was important, but nature and open space were also draws, said Mr. Morace, 32. The Staten Island Greenbelt, a 2,800-acre ribbon of woodland on the northern edge, buffers Lighthouse Hill from urban sprawl. Mr. Morace can return to playing golf on the nearby La Tourette course, or sledding on the hilly terrain in winter.
“The air seems fresher,” he said of the neighborhood, though he also noted that a surge in deer ticks and Lyme disease cases have come with the territory.
What You’ll Find
According to the 1995 “Encyclopedia of New York,” Lighthouse Hill is bounded by Forest Hill Road to the north, Richmond Road to the south, Rockland Avenue to the east and the La Tourette Golf Course to the west. Though the streets were laid out in the first decade of the 20th century, when the area was known as Richmond Hill, Lighthouse Hill wasn’t developed in earnest until enough cars came along to move residents comfortably up the slope, said Barnett Shepherd, a local architectural historian. As a result, it has the feeling of a midcentury suburb. Detached single-family homes sit on neatly tended lots when they’re not clinging to the edge of a cliff, and there are few sidewalks along the winding streets.
Here one finds brick-and-shingle ranch houses, Arts and Crafts cottages, baby Dutch colonials and flat-roofed modernist retorts to convention. Several of these last, Mr. Shepherd said, are the 1940s work of an architect named Matthew Leizer, who later moved to Los Angeles.
Historic homes include the Nathaniel J. and Ann C. Wyeth house, an 1856 Italianate brick cube with a cupola at 190 Meisner Avenue. The original circular driveway remains from the pre-automobile era, when coaches needed to turn around without backing up, Mr. Shepherd noted.
And despite scant opportunities for development, new homes are rising, too. A quartet of houses in the Lighthouse Rise Estates project on London Road were recently listed at $1,699,999 each. The homes will have four bedrooms with en-suite baths and 6,800-square-foot lots.
What the neighborhood lacks is any kind of commercial district. Residents drive less than 10 minutes to Clarke Avenue in Richmondtown, where the shops include a NetCost Market that specializes in foods from Russia and Eastern Europe. The Staten Island Mall is less than 15 minutes away.
What You’ll Pay
Mimi Neuhaus, an owner of Neuhaus Realty on Richmond Road and a neighborhood resident for more than 40 years, said the increase in prices reflects rising values everywhere in Staten Island. What is unique, she added, is Lighthouse Hill’s small size — only 250 families — which drives up demand.
According to data published on the real estate site Trulia, the median sales price of Lighthouse Hill homes as of August 2017 was $785,000, a year-on-year increase of 4 percent, based on 61 transactions and boundaries that extend somewhat northeast of Rockland Avenue.
As of Feb. 5, four homes were listed for sale, including the three-bedroom house at 340 Lighthouse Avenue that belonged to Jacques Marchais. The 1925 Dutch Colonial-style building, which has stained glass, a terraced garden and a separate one-bedroom cottage, is priced at $1.25 million.
With its big sky, big views and ivy-covered tree trunks, the neighborhood benefits from being somewhat remote and wrapped in greenery. Still, a car or a powerful interest in aerobic exercise is advisable.
The small community lacks public schools, but they are not far away.
P.S. 23, Richmondtown School, approximately a mile south, has about 560 students in prekindergarten through sixth grade. On 2016-17 state tests, 63 percent met standards in English versus 40 percent citywide; 67 percent met standards in math versus 42 percent citywide.
I.S. 2, George L. Egbert Intermediate School, about three miles east, has about 870 students in sixth through eighth grades. On state tests, 46 percent met standards in English versus 41 percent citywide; 35 percent met standards in math versus 33 percent citywide.
Susan E. Wagner High School, less than two miles north, has about 3,300 students in ninth through 12th grades. The school has an 86 percent graduation rate. Average 2016-17 SAT scores were 505 in reading and writing and 537 in math, compared with 491 and 490 citywide.
Among the private and parochial schools in the area is the almost century-old St. Patrick’s School, a coeducational Roman Catholic institution on Richmond Road with about 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. For one child, the price is $5,095 a year for parishioners, and $5,455 for nonparishioners.
During the morning rush hour, driving to Midtown Manhattan, via I-78 in New Jersey to the Holland Tunnel, takes an hour or two depending on traffic. The X15 express bus runs along Richmond Road and stops at the Rector Street subway station in Lower Manhattan (travel time during the morning rush hour: about an hour and 20 minutes).
The closest Staten Island Rail station is in New Dorp, about two miles east, with regular service to the St. George Ferry Terminal (a 14-minute trip) and a half-hour boat ride to Lower Manhattan.
Where Rockland Avenue meets Meisner Avenue, there used to be the Richmond Seminary for Young Ladies, a finishing school housed in a Greek Revival building constructed around 1830. From 1852 to 1870, the building served as the Richmond Hill Hotel. Today, the site is occupied by Eger Harbor House, a senior-living facility.