The Van Cortlandt House, the oldest house in The Bronx
Bronx Travel Blog› entry 860 of 1090 › view all entries
Fredrick van Cortlandt was the grandson of Oloff Van Cortlandt, an employee of the Dutch West India Company (WIC) who moved to New Amsterdam (New York). His uncle (Stephanus Van Cortlandt) was the first mayor of New York City, and his father (Jacobus Van Cortlandt) became a mayor too.
The same Jacobus purchased a lot of land in what is now The Bronx for his wheat plantations. Frederick decided in 1748 to build a manor on these lands. The house, in Georgian style, was constructed out of native field stone. Frederick died before the house was completed and it passed to his son James van Cortlandt. During the Revolutionary War the house hosted staff from both the American army (General George Washington) as well as the British army (General Sir William Howe).
Van Cortlandt house is still there. In fact it is now the oldest house in the borough of The Bronx. It can be visited. The rooms are decorated, some of the furniture was originally owned by the Van Cortland family. The link to their Dutch descent was clearly visible: maps of Amsterdam, old Dutch clocks, Delft Blue tiles, etc.
I had been to the Van Cortlandt Park (see here) and had seen the house from the outside. Today it was time to go inside! A kind en enthusiastic lady welcomed us. The tour was self guided but the lady answered all the questions we had. When I asked if the building had a cellar she not only confirmed that but kindly offered me to visit it.
Van Cortlandt House is also a movie location. It served, as an Irish Mansion, in two episodes of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
More pictures below.