The Wyckoff House, the oldest building in New York City

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The Wyckoff House, estimated to have been built in 1652, is the oldest surviving example of a Dutch saltbox frame house in America and the oldest surviving building in New York State. Today it is a National Historic Landmark that’s open as a house museum. Here are the details on the history of the home, and what you need to know if you’re going to visit.

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The history: Though the earliest portion of the home — officially known as the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House — was built in 1652, the rest of the house dates to around 1740. Pieter Claesen, a Dutch immigrant, built the original structure as a simple one-room building with a packed earth floor. On the land, he also operated a farm with his wife. They went on to have 11 children here.

The house was reconfigured and expanded over the centuries until it included six rooms, three fireplaces, a walk-up attic and a root cellar. Amazingly, the Wyckoff family occupied the site for eight successive generations. In 1901, the land and house were sold to developers. After falling apart due to disrepair and then suffering from a devastating fire, the Wyckoff House was ultimately restored in 1982 and then opened as a house museum. It remains a prime example of the Dutch Colonial vernacular architecture style.

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Visiting Details: The Wyckoff House Museum can only be visited through a guided tour. Public tours are offered every Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The park and ground remain open on Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students, and is free for members and children 10 years and younger.

How to get there: The home is located at 5816 Clarendon Road in the neighborhood of Canarsie. To get there by public transportation, take the B or Q lines to Newkirk Plaza or the 2 or 5 lines to Newkirk Avenue. From either station, you’ll have to get on the Brownsville-bound B8 Bus to Beverley Rd/Ralph Avenue. Then turn right on Ralph Avenue and walk one block to the museum.

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What to do: Museum tours educate visitors on the history of the site, what Colonial life was like at the time, and the work of Wyckoff’s farm. Afterward, you’ll be able to tour the beautiful surrounding fields, which are the site of workshops for gardeners. During warmer months, there’s also a weekly farmer’s market.

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There are also tons of events held at the museum, many of them kid-friendly. For details on upcoming events, check out the website.

Photos courtesy of Wyckoff House Museum’s Facebook.

 

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