Dutch houses in NYC: The Pieter Claesen Wyckoff Farmhouse
Brooklyn Travel Blog› entry 752 of 1090 › view all entries
Hardcore readers of my weblog know that, once in a while, I like to visit parts of New York City that point back directly or indirectly to the old Dutch settlers. Examples are e.g. the Dyckman House and Lefferts Homestead. Willem gave me a really cool gift, a book "Exploring Historic Dutch New York". The book lists and describes many sites, statues, etc. that point back to the time that parts of the current states of New York, New Jersey, and Delaware were Dutch.
Today was Willem's last day in New York and since I was to take him to JFK Airport later today we decided to visit one of the sites from the book, the Wyckoff Farmhouse, or Pieter Claesen House as it was called in the past.
Compared to the Dyckman and Lefferts Houses, the Wyckoff House is much older. The aforementioned date back to the late 1700s while the latter was built in 1652. It is said to be the oldest surviving structure in New York City. Even older than the Alice Austen House (see here)! The farm was built as a one-room structure by Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and his wife Grietje van Ness but later enlarged twice (in 1740 and 1819).
The Wyckoff family lived in the house until 1901. After that the house slowly deteriorated. It was fortunately saved by the city, restored to its 1820 appearance and declared a National Historic Landmark. Nowadays it is owned by the New York City Dept. of Parks & Recreation, managed by the Wyckoff House & Association and open for educational and social activities (like the Dutch St.
It is quite a shock when you arrive at the Wyckoff House Site, especially if you have seen the old historic photos of the farm being the only structure in vast and open farmland fields. Nowadays the structure is standing surrounded by busy roads, a tire center, several huge apartment buildings and,... a Mc Donald's. But if you ignore all this 21st century stuff you can almost see Pieter and Grietje walking around their house or and working in the small vegetable garden which still exists in front of the house.
We were enthusiastically greeted by a black cat with a split personality. One moment the cat was purring and affectionate, the next moment it bit and tried to scratch. Maybe it is the ghost of Pieter or Grietje, being happy the house is still standing and angry at the same time that the lands around it have turned so ugly...
More pictures below.