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Sylvester Manor awarded major grant

Sylvester Manor has been awarded a $150,000 Officer’s Planning Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support its 2022 History and Heritage Planning and Partnership Initiative.

The Manor’s year-long initiative is meant to enable organizational engagement with institutions of higher learning and other historical sites, enhancing Sylvester Manor’s capacity as a place-based center of inquiry, scholarship and public engagement.

Executive Director Stephen Searl noted, “With the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project will build upon existing partnerships, introduce Sylvester Manor to new institutions of higher learning, and connect the organization to similar historical entities and projects that are working to advance more inclusive narratives.”

Donnamarie Barnes, the Manor’s director of history and heritage, said the partnerships will “expand opportunities for scholars, universities and organizations to use the Sylvester Manor property, collections and stories to enhance studies and programs relating to the history of enslavement in the northern United States.”

As the most intact slave-holding plantation north of Virginia, and now a nonprofit organization, Sylvester Manor is uniquely positioned to accomplish this Planning Initiative.

The Shelter Island site consists of 235 acres, a 1737 Manor House, an Afro-Indigenous Burial Ground, and various onsite and offsite collections including archaeological artifacts, decorative arts, ephemera and documents that offer students and scholars first-hand access to primary sources.

“Sylvester Manor has reached a point of national significance, institutionally and programmatically, with a responsibility to share this place’s history of generational enslavement, indenture and displacement with a broader constituency,” Mr. Searl said.