The Oldest Home in New York Metropolis: Meet the Wyckoff Home (1652)


Most Twenty first-century Brooklyn public elementary schoolers have taken or will take a discipline trip to the Wyckoff Home, a modest picket cabin surrounded by tire outlets and quick meals shops.

The oldest constructing in NYC by a longshot, it was additionally the primary construction within the 5 boroughs to attain historic landmark standing.

Main sources place the unique occupants, Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and his spouse, Grietje Van Ness-Wyckoff, within the authentic a part of the home round 1652. A single room with a packed earth flooring, unglazed home windows, a big open fireside, and doorways at both finish, it could have been fairly tight quarters for a household of 13, as host Thijs Roes of the historical past collection New Netherland Now notes, throughout his above tour of the premises.

Two parlors had been added within the 18th-century, and three bedrooms within the early nineteenth. Typical Dutch Colonial options embody an H body construction, shingled partitions, cut up Dutch doorways, and deep, flared “spring” eaves.

Its survival is a miracle in a metropolis identified for its fixed flux.

Within the early Twentieth-century, descendants of Pieter and Grietje partnered with neighborhood activists to save lots of the house from demolition, finally donating it to the New York Metropolis Parks Division.

A late 70s fireplace (probably not the primary) necessitated main renovations. (And final 12 months, flooding from Hurricane Ida clobbered its HVAC and electrical system, placing a brief kibosh on public visits to the inside.)

Again in 2015, Roes’ companion, architectural historian Heleen Westerhuijs, was invited to examine the attic, the place she found spectacular authentic beams alongside Twentieth-century reinforcements.

Whereas the administrators of the homestead actively acknowledge the neighborhood that now surrounds it with occasions like an upcoming celebration of Haitian tradition and Vodou, and palms on actions embody city farming and composting, the unique settlers of New Netherland (aka New Amsterdam, aka New York Metropolis) stay a significant focus.

Any American or Canadian with the surname Wyckoff (or considered one of its greater than 50 variants) can and will take into account it their ancestral dwelling, as they're nearly definitely descended from Pieter and Grietje. Whereas many hundreds now bear the identify, Pieter was the primary. Volunteer genealogist Lynn Wyckoff explains:

After the English assumed management of New Netherland, residents practising patronymics (a naming system that utilized one’s father’s identify instead of a surname) had been required to undertake, or freeze, surnames that might be handed down every era. Pieter Claesen selected the identify Wykhof, which most of his descendants have spelled Wyckoff. Regardless of many unfounded claims through the years relating to each Pieter’s ancestry and selection of surname, there isn't a file of Pieter’s parentage; however there may be substantial proof that he selected the identify Wykhof in recognition of a farm by the identical identify exterior of Marienhafe, Germany the place his household had been doubtless tenants.

A handful of Wyckoff members of the family left feedback on the New Netherland Now video, together with Donald, who wrote of his go to:

It was an odd  feeling to the touch the hand-hewn floor of a supporting beam lower and put in by my ancestor, a whole lot of years in the past.  Since I'm a Wyckoff, I used to be allowed to see a number of the “off tour” bits of the home.  I stay over 3k miles away, so my ft will in all probability by no means contact the bottom there once more.  However I’m glad NY and plenty of fantastic folks have maintained my ancestral dwelling so properly and for therefore a few years.  Hopefully it has many a whole lot of years of life remaining so that individuals can recall a time when Flatbush was extra of a farm than a metropolis.

In case you are a Wyckoff (or considered one of its variants), you’re invited to maintain the Wyckoff Affiliation’s household tree updated by sending phrase of births, deaths, marriages, and any pertinent genealogical particulars equivalent to training, army service, occupation, locations of residence and the like.

Discover a group of instructional actions, classes, and colour pages associated to the Wyckoff Home right here.

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Ayun Halliday is the creator, most lately, of Inventive, Not Well-known: The Small Potato Manifesto.  Her household’s journeys to the Wyckoff Home had been included within the newest, NYC museum-themed concern of her zine, the East Village Inky. Observe her @AyunHalliday.



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