Overview: From modest farmers’ cottages to grand mansions, New York City’s historic houses chronicle 350 years of our history, culture, ... more »
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From modest farmers’ cottages to grand mansions, New York City’s historic houses chronicle 350 years of our history, culture, ... more » architecture—and food!
At this year’s festival, we’ll be celebrating our unique heritage through culinary delights from around the world and across time at historic houses throughout
New York City.
The Historic House Trust’s Executive Director, Franklin Vagnone, and his “gang” will hop in an a Toyota Prius hybrid (one of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation’s fleet) with his smartphone and the EveryTrail app and stop at all 23 historic sites in our collection. They will enjoy the food and events of the festival while photographing and blogging all along the way.
Join them in this search for what makes New York City so diverse and tasty! less «
GLIMPSES INTO THE ARSENAL'S FORGOTTEN HISTORY
(Article reprinted from the June 10, 2004 edition of The Daily Plant)
Anyone who visits or even passes by the Arsenal in Central Park gets some sense of its historical status. Closer examination of the building will confirm historical suspicions: the basement entrance bears New York City and National ... MoreLandmark designation plaques. The most thorough examiner will notice the Arsenal's dedication stone, high above the door, inscribed with the building's original construction dates: 1847-1851. Just to the north of the entry stands the historical sign for the building. The curious observer can pay a visit to the Parks Library, to pick up a brochure with an extensive Arsenal history. Nevertheless, none of these sources contain the Arsenal's "forgotten history."
As a consequence of doing extensive research on the history of the Arsenal's lobby (especially its chandelier) for a planned renovation, Parks Librarian John Mattera and the Historic House Trust's Curator, Sandra Huber, uncovered some historical tidbits that range from intriguing to hysterical. Most of this "unearthed" information came from the New York Times, every issue of which, (1851 to the present), has been digitized and made available to anyone who visits the New York Public Library in Bryant Park. It's truly an amazing feat of technology, and reading the old Times stories reminds the reader how much things have changed over the years, from writing styles to the nature of journalism, and even what the public wanted to read.
One news item from 1896 explained that Johanna, a chimpanzee who lived in the Arsenal zoo, would soon be moved. On face value this fits with our preexisting understanding of the Arsenal's history. Many Arsenal employees working in the basement have heard stories of the days when their offices were cages for the zoo animals or horse stalls for the Police precinct that were once housed here. But contrary to our common understanding that the animals lived only in the basement and were removed by 1871, this article describes a different story.
Johanna had, not a cage but "quarters" on the second floor of the Arsenal, where she lived for two years. Her move was necessary because Parks Board of Commissioners needed the space she occupied to build an office for the Parks Superintendent. Justifying the beloved chimp's move, one Commissioner explained "it retards and hinders business to have to communicate with the staff who are on another floor by speaking tubes or messenger." Although communication technology changed a bit over the past 108 years, the lack of space in the Arsenal seems to be an enduring condition. In the last line of the piece, the Times explained that already the bookkeeper had been working at a desk only inches away from the glass partition to Johanna's "apartment." Readers were asked to take note of the chimp's new post office address, but it's unclear whether Johanna wrote her own replies or routed them to the staff.
Although the Arsenal contained Parks Department offices for most of its history, the preponderance of news relates to the building's uses as a zoo, museum, police station, and weather station. A December 6, 1902 account reported that a fire broke out in the boiler room, and that a policemen in the locker room managed to stop the spread of the flames. One third of the article addresses the readers' assumed concern regarding the well-being of the lions who also occupied the basement of the Arsenal. This passage conveys the high level of concern New Yorkers had for animals, and the era's slightly exaggerated perception of animal intelligence. The reporter apparently felt the need to explain in length how the lions were far removed from danger, and in his closing line he reported, "The animals, it was said, did not know that there had been a fire until informed of the fact by their keepers at the luncheon hour."
Before Robert Moses arrived on the scene in January 1934, to renovate the building and rebuild the zoo, the Arsenal-the site so many consider the enduring seat of Parks' power-was a neglected public building that had two close calls with demolition and an ever-changing cast of characters. In large part these stories are not a part of Parks & Recreation's official history, and have been relegated to the annals of the Arsenal's forgotten history.
Written by John MatteraLess
In 1836, Pell family descendant Robert Bartow and his wife, Maria Lorillard, purchased part of the old manor and built a fashionable three-story Greek Revival mansion, with a dramatic freestanding spiral staircase connecting the elegant parlors on the ground floor with the bedrooms above. The Bartow-Pell Mansion was surrounded by pastureland,... More orchards, and lawns sloping down to the bay.
The family lived in the house for 50 years, until the Bartows’ children sold the estate to the City of New York in 1888 as part of the new Pelham Bay Park. In 1914, the International Garden Club adopted the Mansion as its clubhouse, restoring and enlarging it. The Club installed the elegant terraced gardens in 1916.
In 1936, during one of the hottest summers on record, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia moved his staff north to Bartow-Pell Mansion and directed the affairs of the City from a phone bank in the basement. Ten years later, in 1946, the Garden Club opened Bartow-Pell Mansion to the public as a museum.
Today, the interiors have been restored to their 19th-century appearance and feature important period furnishings by New York cabinetmakers and painters. Bartow-Pell Mansion is a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark.
Bartow-Pell Mansion is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Bartow-Pell Conservancy, and is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City.
Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
Pelham Bay Park
895 Shore Road
Bronx, NY 10464
Subway: #6 subway to Pelham Bay Station, then #45 Westchester Bee Line bus to museum gates (no bus on Sundays)
Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday: 12pm - 4pm.Less
Isaac Valentine, a prosperous blacksmith and farmer from Yonkers, built the two-story Georgian house out of the native stone on his land. The House’s location provided Valentine with access to crop markets in New York and with plenty of business as a blacksmith as carts and carriages flowed steadily past his door on the way to the King’s Bridge... More and Manhattan. During the Revolutionary War, however, a different sort of traffic swept through the neighborhood as the British and Colonial armies contested possession of the bridge and road.
Isaac Varian bought the House and 260-acre farm from Valentine’s creditors in 1792. After Varian’s death in 1820, his son Michael took over; in 1893, Michael’s son Jesse became the third generation to own and operate the farm.
By the end of the 1890s, rapid development made it nearly impossible to farm in the area. In 1904, Jesse Varian sold his lands to a developer. William F. Beller bought the House and the small parcel of land surrounding it at auction in 1905, and maintained the House on its original site for 60 years. To preserve the House, Beller’s son, William C. Beller, donated it to The Bronx County Historical Society in 1965.
The Bronx County Historical Society restored the Valentine-Varian House and continues to operate it as the Museum of Bronx History. Exhibitions and public educational programs focus on the borough’s changes over time.
Valentine-Varian House is owned by the Bronx County Historical Society and is a member of the Historic House Trust. Its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
3266 Bainbridge Avenue at East 208th Street
Bronx, NY 10467
Subway: D to Bainbridge Avenue and 205th Street or #4 to Mosholu Parkway.
Bus: Bx10, Bx16, Bx28, Bx30, Bx34, Bx38; from Manhattan, MTA Express Bus BxM4.
Saturday, 10am - 4pm; Sunday, 1pm - 5pm. Groups by appointment.
Adults $5; Seniors, Students, & Children $3.Less
**Poe Cottage is presently closed to undergo an extensive restoration**
During the restoration, you are invited to visit the exhibition
“Edgar Allan Poe – The New York Years”
The Valentine-Varian House
3266 Bainbridge Avenue at East 208th Street,
Saturdays: 10AM-4PM, Sundays: 1PM-5PM
Weekdays and group tours by... More appointment
Adults: $5, Students/Children/Seniors: $3
D Train to Bainbridge Avenue and 205th Street
or 4 Train to Mosholu Parkway
Bus: Bx10, Bx16, Bx28, Bx30, Bx34, Bx38
or the BxM4 express from Manhattan
For additional information or to schedule a group tour call (718) 881-8900Less
Merchant Jacobus Van Cortlandt began purchasing land in the Bronx in 1694. Gradually, he developed the property into a wheat plantation with extensive milling operations. Jacobus’ son Frederick inherited the estate and commissioned the present house in 1748. The House was built in the Georgian style out of native fieldstone, and its elegant... More interior speaks to the family’s wealth and refinement.
During the Revolutionary War, the House’s location between Broadway and the Albany Post Road gave it a strategic position in the conflict. The House and plantation were occupied by Colonial and British armies in turn. General George Washington is known to have stayed in the House at least twice, as did British General Sir William Howe.
Van Cortlandt descendants lived in the House until 1886, when they sold the entire estate to the City of New York for Van Cortlandt Park. In 1896, The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York restored the House as a museum of 18th-century life. As New York City’s first historic house museum, Van Cortlandt House contains an outstanding collection of furniture and decorative arts, including many heirlooms donated back to the house by members of the Van Cortlandt family.
Van Cortlandt House Museum is a National Historic Landmark and both its interior and exterior have been designated New York City Landmarks.
Van Cortlandt House Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Van Cortlandt House Museum
Van Cortlandt Park
Broadway at West 246th Street
Bronx, NY 10471
Subway: #1 to 242nd Street
Bus: Bx9 to West 244th Street
Tuesday - Friday, 10am - 3pm; Saturday & Sunday, 11am - 4pm. Visitors should arrive at least a half an hour before the posted closing time so they may fully enjoy their visit.
Adults $5; Students & Seniors, $3, Children under 12 are free.
Admission is free on Wednesdays.Less
Jan Dyckman established a farm near the northern tip of Manhattan in the 1660s. After its destruction in the Revolutionary War, William Dyckman, Jan’s grandson, replanted the land and built this Farmhouse around 1784. Constructed mostly of fieldstone and clapboard, it features sloping spring eaves, wide porches, and a simple brick facade facing... More the street. The small home served three generations of the Dyckman family until 1868. As the character of the neighborhood changed from rural to urban, the old Farmhouse slid into disrepair.
In 1915, Mary Alice Dyckman Dean and Fannie Fredericka Dyckman Welch, daughters of the last Dyckman to grow up in the house, bought the building and worked with their husbands, curator Bashford Dean and architect Alexander McMillan Welch, to restore it. The sisters sought to preserve and exhibit not just a family relic but an entire way of life. They filled the rooms with objects that evoked their vision of New York’s Dutch heritage. In the garden, a fieldstone smokehouse was added and a half-timbered wood hut—originally built in the area by Hessian mercenaries during the Revolutionary War—was reconstructed. When the restoration was completed in 1916, the house and grounds were donated to the City of New York as a museum of early American life. Today, education programs continue the sisters’ goal of preserving the past for future generations.
The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
4881 Broadway at 204th Street
New York, NY 10034
Subway: A or #1 to 207th Street.
Bus: M100 to 204th St.
Wednesday - Saturday from 11:00am - 4:00pm.
Sunday from 12:00 - 4:00pm.
Closed Monday and TuesdayLess
During the decade before the Revolutionary War, the Georgian house, with its monumental portico and octagonal drawing room, was the setting for some of the colony’s most fashionable parties.
In the fall of 1776, the Mansion was seized by the Continental Army and served as headquarters for George Washington during the Battle of Harlem Heights.... More British and Hessian commanders occupied the house after Washington’s retreat from New York.
In the summer of 1790, Washington returned to the Mansion and dined with the members of his cabinet. Among those at the table were Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Knox.
In 1810, wealthy French wine merchant Stephen Jumel and his American wife, Eliza, purchased the Mansion, and spared no expense refurbishing it. In 1828, they returned from Paris with crates of furniture and paintings, much of which they claimed had belonged to Napoleon. A year after Stephen Jumel died in 1832, his widow married former vice president Aaron Burr. The marriage ended quickly and Eliza lived alone in the house until her death in 1865.
Opened as Washington’s Headquarters by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1904, the Mansion has served as a museum for more than a century. Today, the Mansion features restored period rooms from the Morris, Washington, and Jumel eras.
Morris-Jumel Mansion is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by Morris-Jumel Mansion Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Morris-Jumel Mansion Museum
Roger Morris Park
65 Jumel Terrace at 160th Street
New York, NY 10032
Subway: C to 160th Street
Bus: M2 to 160th Street and Edgecombe Avenue; M3 or M18 to 160th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue; M101 to 161st Street and Amsterdam Avenue (walk one block east)
Wednesday - Sunday: 10am - 4pm. Mondays & Tuesdays: by appointment.Less
Illustrated by Lynd Ward, this tale of the friendship between the tiny beacon and the George Washington Bridge introduced children around the world to the red, round, and very, very proud little lighthouse in New York.
Built in 1880, the 40-foot tower was moved in 1921 to Jeffrey’s Hook, a rocky point on the Hudson River near Manhattan’s northern... More edge. The Lighthouse warned ships away from the shore as they made their way down the narrow channel between New York and New Jersey.
However, when construction of the George Washington Bridge was completed in 1931, the brilliant lights of the bridge’s 600-foot towers overwhelmed the little Lighthouse. In 1947, it was officially decommissioned and abandoned, and by 1951, the Little Red Lighthouse was slated for demolition – its cast-iron shell to be sold for scrap.
Hearing this news, thousands of children who had loved Swift’s book started a nationwide campaign to save the Little Red Lighthouse. Thanks in part to their efforts, ownership of the Lighthouse was transferred from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
Today, visitors climb a long, iron stair to the top of the tower, where the lantern room is again fitted with a working lens that blinks proudly at cargo barges and passenger ships sailing under the George Washington Bridge.
The Little Red Lighthouse is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Little Red Lighthouse
Fort Washington Park,
178th Street and the Hudson River,
For a schedule of tours, call 311 and ask for the Urban Park Rangers.
Subway: A train to 181st St. and walk west to Plaza Lafayette.
Cross the footbridge and take a left down the path under the overpass.
Cross over the railroad tracks and follow the path to the left (south).
The lighthouse is almost directly under the George Washington Bridge.
For information about visiting the lighthouse, please call the Urban Park Rangers at (212) 304-2365.Less
Constructed in Sweden of native pine and cedar, the model schoolhouse was dismantled, packed in crates, and shipped across the Atlantic, then re-erected by Swedish craftsmen on the Exposition grounds. Furnished with desks and chalkboards, and staffed by Swedish teachers, the popular pavilion welcomed many visitors.
Impressed by the ornament and... More utility of the Swedish School House, Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park, secured an appropriation from the City of New York to purchase it. In 1877, the little building was dismantled once again, and reconstructed on the west side of the Park.
In 1939, New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses created a touring marionette theater to perform on playgrounds during the summer and in school auditoriums during the winter. Eight years later, in 1947, the troupe moved into the Swedish School House, which thereafter served as its workshop and headquarters. In 1973, the interior of the building was redesigned to incorporate a small theater for indoor marionette performances, as well as space for the traveling theater.
Painstakingly restored in 1996, the building retains much of its original 19th-century materials, including the patterned shingles, simple hardware, and hand-rubbed interior paneling. Audiences continue to enjoy marionette performances of classic tales. Talented craftsmen make marionettes for each production, contributing to the archive of historic marionettes every year.
The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the City Parks Foundation, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
Central Park 79th Street and West Drive
Manhattan, New York 10023
Subway: 1 to 79th Street; B or C to 81st Street
Bus: M79 to Central Park West
Hours subject to change, please call for the latest schedule and reservations. Reservations are required for all shows.
Adult $8; Children $5; School groups and non-profit organizations $4.50Less
Gracie hosted elegant dinner parties at his country estate for visitors including Alexander Hamilton, Rufus King, Joseph Bonaparte, and Washington Irving.
Major losses during the years after the War of 1812 forced Gracie to sell his estate in 1823 to Joseph Foulke. In 1857, the Mansion was bought by Noah Wheaton. After Wheaton's death in 1896, the... More City of New York appropriated the estate, incorporating its 11 acres of grounds into the surrounding park that was renamed for Carl Schurz in 1910.
After years of use as a comfort station and ice-cream stand, Gracie Mansion became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. When the museum moved to a larger building, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced City authorities to designate the Mansion as the official residence of the mayor. In 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved into Gracie Mansion.
In 1966, the Mansion was enlarged with the construction of the Susan E. Wagner Wing, which includes a ballroom and two additional rooms. Under the guidance of The Gracie Mansion Conservancy, major restorations to the Mansion were undertaken between 1981 and 1984, and in 2002.
The 2002 restoration transformed Gracie Mansion into the "People's House" and increased accessibility to the public and City agencies. First Lady Rosalynn Carter and South African President Nelson Mandela are among the many notable visitors.
Gracie Mansion is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Gracie Mansion Conservancy, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Carl Schurz Park
88th Street & East End Avenue
New York, NY 10128
Subway: #4, #5, or #6 to 86th Street
Bus: M86 to 86th Street and York Avenue.
General tours are on Wednesdays at 10am,11am,1pm and 2pm and last approximately forty-five minutes. Tea tours are available for groups of 25-50 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. School tours take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All tours by reservation only. Reservation required for all tours. To make reservations please call
By 1786, James Seguine had purchased a large parcel of land overlooking Prince’s Bay. His grandson, Joseph Seguine, built the current Greek Revival-style house in 1838. In addition to operating the family’s thriving oyster harvesting business, Joseph helped establish the Staten Island Railroad Company, founded the Staten Island Oil and... More Candlemaking Company on his own property, and owned extensive farmland in the surrounding neighborhood.
The Seguines’ home reflects their prosperity. On the grand facade facing the water, six monumental square columns support a second floor gallery and classical pediment with a sweeping fanlight. Inside the house, Greek Revival mantels and plasterwork grace the spacious rooms, all of which feature tall windows and doors to circulate cool ocean breezes throughout the house. A wide, sloping lawn opens a broad vista to the bay.
Financial reversals forced the family to sell the property just after the Civil War, but descendants repurchased the house and the 10 surviving acres in 1916. After a long search for an appropriate buyer, Elizabeth Seguine Aug sold the house in 1981 to George Burke, who arranged for its transfer to the City of New York in 1989.
Today, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation operates the Mansion as a historic house museum. The Mansion and its elegant gardens are open to the public for scheduled tours led by the Urban Park Rangers during the spring, summer, and fall.
Seguine Mansion is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Lemon Creek Park
440 Seguine Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10309
For a schedule of tours, call 311 and ask for the Urban Park Rangers
Subway: #1 subway to South Ferry, R/W subway to Whitehall, or #4/5 subway to Bowling Green for the Staten Island Ferry
Bus: S78 from Staten Island Ferry terminal to Seguine Avenue
Periodic tours available.
For tour dates or to schedule a tour, call (718) 390-8012.Less
A captain in the Royal Navy, Billopp built this House around 1680 as the center of his 1,600-acre Manor of Bentley. The sophisticated, two-story fieldstone House was markedly different in both style and scale from the scattered Dutch and English farmhouses of Staten Island with its high, gabled end walls containing fireplaces and chimney stacks.... More The House had two large parlors opening off a central hall on the main floor, and two bedchambers on the floor above.
Like his great-grandfather, Colonel Christopher Billopp—who inherited the property in 1750—served in the British armed forces and was a member of the provincial government. During the Revolutionary War, Billopp remained loyal to King George III and in 1776 his house was requisitioned for the enormous British army billeted on Staten Island.
On September 11, 1776, John Adams, Edward Rutledge, and Benjamin Franklin, representing the Continental Congress, and Admiral Lord Richard Howe, representing the King’s government, met at the Billopp House. The group discussed options for a peaceful cessation of hostilities but no agreement was reached, and the fighting continued for another seven years.
The House opened as a museum in 1927. Today, it has been restored to its mid-18th-century appearance. Education programs and special events at the house focus on the Billopp family and the Revolutionary War conference that made the House famous.
The Conference House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Conference House Association, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Conference House Park
7455 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY
Bus: S78 bus or S59 bus to Craig Ave. / Hylan Boulevard,
walk 1 block south to Conference House Park.
April 1 - December 15th: Friday-Sunday, 1pm - 4pm. Groups by appointment.
Adults $3; Seniors & Children $2; Children 6 and under free.
This Museum is not available to rentLess
The Town of Richmond, established in the 1690s, became the seat of Staten Island’s county government in 1728. After Staten Island was incorporated into the City of New York in 1898, its government offices were moved to the town of St. George, and Richmond gradually became a quiet residential area.
Although no longer the government center of... More Staten Island, Richmond Town soon became the center of the local preservation movement. During the 1930s, volunteers from the community and the Staten Island Historical Society shared a vision of what Richmond Town’s collection of unused buildings dating back hundreds of years could become.
Today, Historic Richmond Town’s 100 acres include 28 buildings dating from the late 17th to the early 20th centuries. Half stand on their original locations in Richmond Town, and others were moved to the site throughout the 20th-century. The buildings exemplify a variety of architectural styles and create a physical journey through time, allowing visitors to explore the evolution of Staten Island through its buildings.
During the spring and summer months, the village comes alive with the daily trades and customs of old Richmond Town as period re-enactors fill its farmhouses, trade shops, and the county courthouse. In a city known for its skyscrapers, it preserves an historically scaled past for future generations.
Historic Richmond Town is a joint project of the Staten Island Historical Society and the City of New York through the Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306
Subway: #1 subway to South Ferry, R/W subway to Whitehall, or #4/5 subway to Bowling Green.
Ferry: Staten Island Ferry to Staten Island, then S74 bus to St. Patrick’s Place
July - August: Thursday & Friday, 11am- 3pm; Saturday & Sunday, 1 - 5pm; September - June: Wednesday - Sunday, 1 - 5pm with guided tours Wednesday - Friday at 2:30pm and Saturday & Sunday at 2pm & 3:30pm. Reservations required for groups. Closed on all major holidays. For more information, call
Adults $5; Seniors $4;
Children (ages 5-17) $3.50.
Children 5 and under
and SIHS members Free.Less
In 1877, at the age of 11, Austen received a camera from her uncle. She was immediately mesmerized by this new invention, and spent the next 40 years capturing some 8,000 images. She was often seen riding her bicycle around Staten Island and Manhattan, carrying almost 50 pounds of photographic equipment. Austen is best known for her street... More photography: photos of immigrants just off the boats from Ellis Island, street sweepers hard at work, postmen, bootblacks, and fishmongers. Her photographs bear witness to a strong aesthetic eye: she knew how to compose an image, what to include and leave out. Her artistic talents are evident in her photographs of nature, which were influenced by 19th-century ideas of nature as holder of both beauty and spirit.
In 1975, recognizing the importance of Alice Austen to New York's history, the City purchased the House and restored it and the grounds to their 19th-century appearance. Today, Clear Comfort operates as a museum, featuring exhibits of Austen's work and contemporary photography as well as period rooms that have been recreated based on photographs.
A National Historic Landmark, the House was inducted in 2002 into the National Trust for Historic Preservation's highly selective group of Historic Artists' Homes and Studios.
Alice Austen House Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Friends of Alice Austen Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Alice Austen House
Alice Austen Park
2 Hylan Boulevard Staten Island, NY 10305
SIRT: Clifton Station
Bus: S51 (from Ferry) to Bay St./Hylan Blvd.
March thru December: Tuesday - Sunday 11am-5pm.
Adults, Students, and Seniors $3; Children under 6 are free.Less
In 1719, family patriarch Johannes Lott purchased a farm in the rural town of Flatlands. The Lott family quickly became leaders in their community. When Hendrick I. Lott married Mary Brownjohn in 1792, he found his grandfather’s house too old, too small, and too outmoded for a prominent member of an established family. Hendrick built a larger,... More grander house, combining Dutch and English details into a distinctly American building. Hendrick did not abandon his grandfather’s house entirely, however: it was moved to the eastern end of the new house to serve as the kitchen wing.
At its peak in the 19th-century, the Lotts’ farm included more than 200 acres. Like most of the large farmers in southern Brooklyn, the Lotts relied on the labor of slaves, indentured servants, and hired hands to grow the crops that they sold in the markets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. However, the Lotts freed their slaves by 1805, years before the abolition of slavery in New York State in 1827. Later, the House may have served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
The family continued to farm at the site until 1925. The last Lott family member lived there until her death in 1989. The house and grounds are currently closed for restoration.
The Hendrick I. Lott House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Hendrick I. Lott House Preservation Association, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Hendrick I. Lott House
1940 East 36th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11234
Subway: B or Q subway to Kings Highway, then B2 bus to Fillmore Avenue and East 36th Street
Currently closed to the public for restoration.
Suggested donation $3;
Children under 12 free.Less
Its history exemplifies the diversity of Brooklyn’s colonial farms, where Dutch-American landowners, enslaved and freed Africans, and later European immigrants labored on some of the country’s most fertile land.
Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, an illiterate teenage farm laborer, arrived in the New Netherlands in 1637. After serving his indenture to the ... Morevan Rensselaer family, he and his wife, Grietje van Nes, settled in the village of Nieuw Amersfoort (modern East Flatbush-Flatlands, Brooklyn) where Wyckoff became a successful farmer and magistrate. Today his and Grietje’s eleven children have more than 50,000 descendants.
The Wyckoff Farmhouse typifies the vernacular farmhouse architecture of the Dutch-American farms of Brooklyn and Queens. Generations of Wyckoffs enlarged and altered the House and continued to farm the land until 1901.
Wyckoff descendants established the Wyckoff House & Association in 1937 and re-purchased the House from its last private owner in 1961. In 1965 the House became the first structure to be designated a New York City Landmark. The Association donated the House to the City of New York in 1969. Extensively restored, it opened to the public in 1982. Today the Museum’s mission is to educate visitors about the diverse peoples of Brooklyn’s colonial farms. Preservation efforts continue with the reconstruction of gardens, orchards, and the 200-year-old Wyckoff Durling barn.
The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum & Education Center is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Wyckoff House & Association, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum & Education Center
The Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House, c.1652
5816 Clarendon Road at Ralph Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11203
Subway: #2 or #5 subway to Newkirk Avenue, then B8 bus to Beverley Road at East 59th Street; or B47 or B7 bus to Clarendon Road
Walk-in tours: Tuesday- Friday, 1 p.m. & 3 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Closed Sundays November - April. Appointment required for groups of 6 or more
Children, Students & Seniors $1.Less
During the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776, a regiment of about 400 volunteers from Maryland engaged a superior force of British and Hessian soldiers in a desperate defensive maneuver to enable other American troops to flee across the Gowanus marshes to the safety of Washington's encampment on Brooklyn Heights. The Marylanders’ sacrifice became ... Morelegend – a storied moment in a long war.
After the war’s end, the Cortelyou family owned the house from 1790 to 1850. In the following years, the land surrounding the old Vechte-Cortelyou farmhouse was filled to provide level building lots for fashionable row houses.
The square block around the battle shrine remained intact and became Washington Park in 1883. Its lawns were the summer home of the Brooklyn Baseball Club – later known as the Brooklyn Dodgers – which used the House as its first headquarters. In 1889 and 1890, the World Series was played at Washington Park, establishing the tradition of Brooklyn baseball.
Today, reconstructed from original stones near the original site, the Old Stone House serves as an interpretive and educational center dedicated to Brooklyn history, as well as a cultural resource for the community.
Old Stone House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Old Stone House of Brooklyn Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Old Stone House
Washington Park (formerly J.J. Byrne Park)
Fifth Avenue at Third Street
Subway: R to Union Street; F to Fourth Avenue
Bus: B63 to Fifth Avenue and Third Street
Saturday & Sunday, 11am - 4pm.
Suggested donation $3; Children under 12 free.Less
Pieter Lefferts built the house around 1783, four generations after his ancestors arrived in the New World. Lefferts served as a lieutenant in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and was later appointed to a judgeship in Kings County. He also served as a member of the New York State convention that ratified the Constitution in 1788.
... More Lefferts’s son, John, inherited the farm when his father died. Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt, John’s daughter, recorded the history of her family, her community, and her landmark home in The Social History of Flatbush, published in 1881.
By the turn of the century, Brooklyn’s rural setting was disappearing under the sprawl of real estate development. In 1917, the estate of John Lefferts offered the House to the City of New York on the condition that the House be moved from its original location onto city property. The City accepted the offer and moved the House into Prospect Park in 1918. In 1920, it was opened as a museum by the Fort Greene chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Today, Lefferts Historic House is a museum of family life in Brooklyn in the 1820s. Period rooms furnished to reflect daily life, demonstration gardens and fields, and hands-on American craft activities help visitors understand the changes in Brooklyn’s landscape since the 18th-century.
Lefferts Historic House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Prospect Park Alliance, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Lefferts Historic House Museum
Flatbush Avenue at Empire Boulevard/Ocean Avenue, near the Willink Entrance to the Park
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Subway: Q, S or B to Prospect Park station
Bus: B16 or B43 to Ocean Avenue and Empire Boulevard; B41 or B48 to Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard.
January-March: Saturday-Sunday 12-4pm; April-May 25: Saturday-Sunday 12-5pm; Memorial Day-Labor Day: Thursday-Sunday 12-5pm and until 6pm July & August. Open all holidays. Open by appointment for students and researchers. School and group programs offered year-round Tuesday-Friday.
Complete with the family’s original furnishings and personal possessions, the house offers a rare and intimate glimpse of domestic life during the significant era of the 19th-century when New York City was transformed from a colonial seaport into a thriving metropolis.
Period rooms display the family’s furniture from New York’s best... More cabinetmakers, high-style decorative objects, china and glassware, utilitarian household items, as well as clothing, books, and other personal memorabilia. The late-Federal and Greek Revival building is among the finest surviving examples of the architecture of the period. Highlights include the formal Greek Revival double parlors with black-and-gold marble mantelpieces, Ionic columns, mahogany pocket doors, and elaborate ornamental plasterwork. Matching gas chandeliers from the 1830s hang from the 13-foot ceilings.
The Museum’s collection of 19th-century costumes and textiles is among the most significant in New York City and includes more than 30 dresses from the 1820s to the 1880s documented as having belonged to the Tredwell women.
The Museum offers educational programs on 19th-century life and culture for adults and schoolchildren, and hosts guided tours, lectures, readings, concerts, exhibitions, performances, and other events throughout the year.
The Merchant's House Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Old Merchants House, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Merchant's House Museum
29 East Fourth Street
New York, NY 10003
Subway: R/W to 8th Street or #6 to Astor Place
Bus: M5, M6 to Broadway/4th Street; M102 to 4th Street; M1 to Broadway/8th Street
Thursday - Monday: 12pm - 5pm.
Group and school tours by appointment.
Adults: 8.00; Students & Seniors: 5.00; Historic House Trust Members: Free.Less
The Bowne House is a fine example of mid-17th-century Anglo-Dutch architecture with an exceptional collection of furnishings, but its true magic is its story. The house was built by John Bowne, a prominent Quaker and advocate of religious freedom, who emigrated from England to Boston in 1649 and eventually settled in Flushing, Queens. The... More contributions of this family to New York City’s heritage began with the courageous actions of John Bowne (1627-1695), who used the house as the first indoor meeting place for the Society of Friends, at a time when religious diversity was forbidden by law.
The Bowne family prospered in America and became businessmen, educators, politicians, and horticulturists. Robert Bowne (1744-1818) founded Bowne & Co., a financial printing company that is still in existence today, and championed free education for all New Yorkers. Walter Bowne (1770-1846), founder of the Union Engine Company, served as mayor of New York City from 1829-1833. Samuel Parsons Jr. (1844 – 1923) was the head landscape architect for New York City and served as Superintendent of City Parks. During his career he partnered with Calvert Vaux to create Christopher Street Park, Abingdon Square, and the iconic Washington Memorial Arch in Washington Square Park.
In 2009, the Bowne House Historical Society donated the house to the City’s Parks Department and it became the 23rd member of the Historic House Trust. The three organizations are now partnering on a phased restoration of the house, construction of a visitor’s center, archeological investigation of the site, and redevelopment of the surrounding park to represent the rich horticultural history of Flushing.
Bowne House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Bowne House Historical Society, and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Weeping Beech Park
37-01 Bowne Street
Flushing, NY 11354
Currently closed to the public for restoration.
Subway: #7 to Main Street, Flushing. Walk two blocks east on Roosevelt Avenue to Bowne Street, turn left and walk 2 blocks to 37th Avenue.Less
It was built circa 1785 for Charles Doughty, the son of Benjamin Doughty, a wealthy Quaker who purchased land on the old turnpike in Flushing. The two-and-a-half-story Homestead was built in a style once common in the area – the Long Island half-house. The name “Kingsland” derives from Doughty’s son-in-law, British sea captain Joseph King, who... More bought the house in 1801.
Captain King’s daughter Mary married Lindley Murray of Manhattan’s Murray Hill family. After her husband’s death, Mary King Murray moved back to Kingsland with her four children. Descendants of the original families continued to live in the house until the 1920s.
In 1968, the Kingsland Preservation Committee saved the house from demolition and moved it to its present location in Weeping Beech Park. The park had been the nursery of famed 19th-century horticulturalist Samuel Bowne Parsons, who, in 1847, planted the first weeping beech tree in America in the park. This landmark tree survived for 151 years, and today seven direct descendants continue to shade Kingsland Homestead and their namesake park.
The Queens Historical Society organizes local history exhibitions in the first floor rooms where a permanent exhibit on the Homestead and its people is also on display. An archive and library of primary and secondary source materials covering the 300-year history of Queens is available by appointment. Public programs offered by the Society include tours, talks, and concerts.
Kingsland Homestead is owned and operated by the Queens Historical Society and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Weeping Beech Park
143-35 37th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11354
Subway: #7 to Main Street, Flushing.
Walk two blocks east on Roosevelt Avenue to Bowne Street, turn left and walk to Margaret Carman Green, walk through the park to Kingsland Homestead on the left.
Bus: Q12, 14, 15, 17, 26, 27, 44, 48, 65, or 66 to Main St.; Q13 or 28 to Parsons Blvd. & Northern Blvd.
Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 2:30pm - 4:30pm, and by appointment.
Students & Seniors $2.
This Museum is not available to rentLess
The Lewis H. Latimer House is a modest Queen Anne-style, wood-frame suburban residence constructed between 1887 and 1889 by the Sexton family. Lewis Howard Latimer, an African-American inventor and electrical pioneer and the son of fugitive slaves, lived in the house from 1903 until his death in 1928. The house remained in the Latimer family... More until 1963. Threatened with demolition, the house was moved from Holly Avenue to its present location in 1988.
Lewis H. Latimer, who was born in 1848, was determined to overcome his lack of formal education and taught himself mechanical drawing while in the Union Navy and became an expert draftsman. He worked with three of the greatest scientific inventors in American history, including Alexander Graham Bell, Hiram S. Maxim, and Thomas Alva Edison. He played a critical role in the development of the telephone and, as Edison's chief draftsman, he invented and patented the carbon filament, a significant improvement in the production of the incandescent light bulb. Over the course of his career, Latimer supervised the installation of street lighting and the construction of electric plants in many American cities, as well as London and Montreal.
Today, the New York City landmark's exhibitions and public programs call attention to Latimer’s and other African Americans’ contributions to science, technology and American life.
The Lewis H. Latimer House is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Lewis H. Latimer Fund, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Lewis H. Latimer House Museum
34-41 137th Street
Flushing, NY 11354
New hours: Tuesday-Thursday & Saturday, 11am-4pm.
Subway: Subway #7 to Main Street Roosevelt. Take Q25 to Linden Place and 35th Ave.Less
In 1820, he delivered two of the most radical speeches heard in the Senate before the Civil War. His opposition to the admission of Missouri as a slave state marked the apogee of his long antislavery career.
In 1805, Rufus King and his wife purchased 90 acres of land and this 18th-century farmhouse. They immediately expanded the House; the... More landscaped estate and working farm grew to 122 acres. After King's death in 1827, his eldest son, John Alsop King, continued to operate the farm and made further improvements to the House. John followed his father's footsteps into politics, serving as a congressman and governor of the State of New York. The House remained in the King family until 1896, and opened as a museum in 1900.
Today, the Museum’s programs focus on the roles of Rufus and John Alsop King in the early antislavery movement, and life and work at King Manor in the 19th-century.
King Manor Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the King Manor Association of L.I., Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
King Manor Museum
150-03 Jamaica Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11432
Subway: E, J, or Z to Jamaica Center (exit Archer Ave. / 153rd St., walk 1 block north), or F to Parsons Blvd. (exit 153rd St., walk two blocks south to King Park)
Bus: Q24, Q42, Q43, Q44, Q54, Q56, or Q83 to downtown Jamaica.
Guided tours of King Manor Museum are offered February - December on Thursdays & Fridays, 12pm - 2pm, and Saturdays & Sundays, 1pm - 5pm.
In January open to school and group tours only.
Adults $5; Seniors & Students $3;
Children (4-13) $2;
Family (up to 2 adults & 3 children) $12.
First established by the Adriance family in the 17th century, the Farm was operated by a succession of family farmers for nearly 300 years. The current farmhouse was built around 1772 by Jacob Adriance; much of the original building remains standing today.
Three centuries of private ownership came to an end in 1927 when the land, including the... More historic farmhouse and 19th-century barn complex, was purchased by the State of New York and incorporated into the adjacent Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. Patients from the Center's hospital maintained the Farm's barns and fields as therapy. As time passed Creedmoor’s formal farming program halted, but resident caretakers continued to work the land for their own love of farming.
In 1973 when the historic buildings were scheduled for demolition, area residents, with the support of State Senator Frank Padavan, encouraged the State to transfer the land and farm buildings to the City as a public park.
Today, in addition to planting, harvesting, and selling the crops, the Farm’s staff cares for cows, sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs. Hayrides and a petting zoo complement educational programs in the restored barns and house, including demonstrations of historic farming techniques, open hearth cooking, and animal care.
Queens County Farm Museum is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose, Inc., and is a member of the Historic House Trust.
Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Floral Park, NY 11004
Subway to Bus: E or F to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike; then Q46 to Little Neck Parkway
Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm (grounds only); Saturday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm (house and grounds). School groups by reservation only: (718) 347-FARM, x14.
Free except on special event days.
Special event prices range from $2 to $8.Less