Brooklyn's Wyckoff House is Oldest Home in New York City

The Wyckoff House
Гатерас / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

One of the oldest buildings in New York City — and the oldest home in all five boroughs — this farm house museum has been restored to reflect the lifestyles of wealthy Dutch settlers of the 1650s. It is considered an outstanding example of the Dutch Colonial vernacular style. It's an historic oasis well worth visiting.

According to the museum website, the Wyckoff Association, which supports the house, itself is a historic artifact., dating back over 70 years. It was established in 1937 to "promote interest in Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, his descendants, and in the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House located in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, New York."

This museum also played an important role in New York City's own architectural preservation history. It was the first landmark designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965, when the Commission was formed. Three years later it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Contemporary Programs: History, Educational, Family Fun

Cultural events are held here, including summer concerts, and an October Halloween Harvest festival. Today there are lectures, weekend craft sessions, children’s story hours, and outdoor programs held on a large lawn.

Programs explore the diverse peoples of Brooklyn's Dutch-American farming communities and include demonstrations of household and farm activities. Special events are scheduled throughout the year.

Wyckoff House Museum Today

Standing here all those years, the Wyckoff House is a reminder of all the social configurations Brooklyn has witnessed: from a rural Dutch colonial farming settlement to a retreat for wealthy nineteenth-century industrialists to a haven for Jewish, Italian, and other immigrants in search of the American dream, to today’s urbanized hodgepodge of yentas, yuppies, Caribbean Islanders, African-Americans, and Eastern European immigrants.

Facts about the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House:

  • It was originally a Dutch West India Company bowerie or farm.
  • The oldest original portion of the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House was built c.1652 — this section is the oldest building in New York City.
  • It is also one of the oldest wooden structures in this country.
  • It received National Historic Landmark designation in 1968.

What to Look For in Terms of Historic Architecture:

Four features of note include:

  1. the H-frame structure
  2. Shingled walls
  3. Split Dutch doors
  4. Deep. flared eaves.
Peter Claesen Wyckoff House circa 1922
The New York Historical Society / Getty Images

Changes in the House:

  • The original 1650s house was enlarged nearly a hundred years later, in 1740.
  • The house survived the early 20th-century changes in the area that transformed Brooklyn from a farmland to a residential community.
  • The house underwent an exhaustive historical restoration before opening as a Museum in 1982.

Who Was Pieter Claesen Wyckoff?

Peter Claesen Wyckoff, according to the museum, "emigrated from the Netherlands as an indentured servant in 1637 and acquired the land through his connections with Peter Stuyvesant beginning in 1652."

Wyckoff is an important historical Brooklyn. Many generations of Wyckoffs farmed in Brooklyn for over two centuries, from the 1650s until 1901.

Who Owns Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House?

In 1969 the Wyckoff House Foundation donated the house to the City of New York. (Many historically important homes, including the home of Louis Armstrong in Queens, have been donated to the City.)

Visitor Information:

Note that the museum can only be seen by guided tour, or during special, scheduled events. Check the website for hours and special programs.

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