So first of all, let me state that the advertising (for those that have seen it) that involves people in period costume making items and having people make candles and things...well, that does happen, during the summer or with school groups, or on special event days (like October 17th). Otherwise, you get a staff member in plain modern clothes taking you on a tour around the buildings. It is a good idea to do this, otherwise, you don't see very much as the buildings are locked up. If you are just interested in seeing the outside of old buildings, that's free. If you want to tour the indoor museum and see the inside of the period buildings, that's when you pay the inexpensive entrance fee.
Generally, during the "off-season" the town is open for 4 hours a day. Doesn't seem like much, does it? However, we got there at 1:15, to a filming in their courthouse. So much filming we could not even enter the building to buy admission! We went to the only other building we could see, which was the museum and the nice woman inside let us pay there. The museum was very nice and contained a lot of nice period things from Staten, including painted oyster shells and old maps of the area.
The tour began at 2:30 and we were taken around to about a half-dozen or so of the buildings, as not all are open to the public, my guess is we saw most of the public ones, except the blacksmith shop. Anyway, this whole tour was very educational and I learned a lot, my favourite fact being that Staten Island was loyalist during the Revolutionary War. The entire tour took over 2 hours, which is great because it wasn't boring, and shows that the staff knows how to fill up the time.
Afterwards, we went to the gift shop and bought some chocolate fudge topping and went home. It was a nice day, better than expected, but I'd prefer to come back when the costume people are out using the tools and the ovens and such like.