The Rutan House was built between 1848 & 1850 for shipbuilder William Henry Rutan (1814-1869) & wife Mary Johnson Cole (1818-1882) on Pittsville Road (now Shore Road). The house was was built to face the Ratan Bay.
William and Mary had no children but they did adopted Mary Woglom Rutan. In 1873 Mary Woglom Rutan inherited the house.
Mary Woglom Rutan married William Felch. They had two children Clinton P & Margaret M.
Margaret had a daughter named Edna.
In 1910 Mr. & Mrs. Felch sold the house.
In 1955, Katherine and Walter Beckett purchase the badly deteriorating house and begin to restore it as their summer home.
In 1968, Parks Department purchased the home, and the Becketts stay on -paying rent each month to NY Parks. Walters sisters also live in the house and Ruth his sister is the last one alive and bequeaths all the furniture in the house to friends. Robert and Agnes Brenner- they used it as a summer home also.
In 2003 all the residents of the city owned properties in the Conference House park are moved out and the city buys the contents of the Rutan house in anticipation of its becoming a house museum focusing on life in the 1950's (NOT 1850's)
Rutan shipyard was started by 2 Rutan brothers James and William who came from a family of shipbuilders. There was another structure on the property, just below the Rutan house, close to the shore. This was a large 2 story building that houses a ships chandlery a maritime store. Before the Rutan house was built, William and Mary lived above this store.
Rutan shipyard flourished and expanded. They built and repaired tugs, coal barges and oyster boats. After 1900, with steel replacing wood the business declined and they closed between the mid 1890's and 1901.
The house is Greek Revival style, popular in the mid 19th century and characterized by a Greek temple style portico supported by tall columns. The columns on the Rutan house are square which is a bit different than most Greek Revival homes.
Katherine Becket was Principal of PS 8 in Great Kills at the time she lived in the house. The Becketts erected the greenhouse and retaining wall behind the house.