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George Burke

U.S. Air Force

Annadale native, George Burke, was born in October 11, 1930. In 1950, at age 19, he joined the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in postwar London as assistant to a surgeon with whom he traveled throughout Europe, especially Germany. He was able to study interior design and even rode his horse in local parks. Later he served in Alaska and then Texas.

In 1964, at age 34, after 18 years of military service, Burke went to work for Saks Fifth Avenue. He became a fixture on “The Avenue” in its heyday as a manager in Garber’s Department Store. He also met up with Staten Island native, Mario Buatta, the iconic interior decorator hailed for decades as the “Prince of Chintz.” Burke was the design consultant at Sherwin Williams, attracting clients from all over the metropolitan area. Declining commercial activity in Port Richmond in the 1970s led Burke to establish design and restaurant businesses, including the Tidewater Inn in Tottenville and the Old Bermuda Inn.

In 1980, he singlehandedly rescued the 1838 house of Huguenot immigrant and business pioneer, Joseph H. Seguine, inside today’s Lemon Creek Park in Prince’s Bay. The Seguine family was part of the Port Richmond Dutch Reformed congregation, continuous from 1656 to today. In 1989 Burke sold the Greek Revival Mansion, on ten of its original acres, to New York City for half its value while retaining a life interest - the legal right to live there. In 2014 Rizzoli published a coffee table book The Seguine House, a Nineteenth Century Working Estate in Twenty-first Century New York City.

At age 93, Burke still oversees the property. The youngest of nine, he is visited by his surviving sister, Marge; many loving nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and great grand nieces and nephews; as well as preservationists and friends old and new.

In 2017, Burke came into possession of a cache of real estate papers. The earliest is a 1688 deed to 80 acres, with the original wax seals intact. It runs from today’s Pelton to Bement Avenues and Richmond Terrace to Castleton Avenue. Burke gave these treasures to Port Richmond’s historic Reformed Protestant Dutch Church to add to their extensive original archive. See details at

Sponsored by Mary Bullock

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