Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

New York City, New York (NY)

Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum: the oldest building in New York City!

Exploring the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, located at 5816 Clarendon Road within Milton Fidler Park in the Canarsie neighbourhood of Brooklyn, is an example of New York’s rich colonial history. The farmhouse sits on 1.5 acres of land acquired from the Lenape people around 1636, by Wouter van Twiller. Wyckoff was then built in 1652, making it the oldest surviving structure in New York City and one of the oldest in the entire United States.

Since 2003, the farm has hosted a farmers' market, providing organic produce to the neighbourhood. Throughout the year, family-friendly events celebrate seasonal traditions, such as the annual Apple Festival in September. Today, amid verdant fields of Swiss chard, eggplant, and garlic the museum, operated by the Wyckoff House & Association and owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, has become a cherished and popular landmark.

The History of the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Wyckoff Farmhouse was initially one of several houses commissioned by Wouter van Twiller, before his return to Holland. Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, an indentured farm labourer turned successful farmer and magistrate, took residence in the house around 1652, with his wife Grietje van Nes. Their legacy lives on through their 50,000 descendants.

Situated in East Flatbush-Flatlands, it served as a working farm, showcasing Dutch Colonial H-frame architecture characterised by shingled walls and split doors. Generations of Wyckoffs expanded and modified the farmhouse, according to their needs, yet still maintaining it as a farm until 1901.

Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum 2
- H.L.I.T.

Opening the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum

Formed in 1937 by the descendants of Pieter Claesen Wyckoff and his wife, the Wyckoff House & Association, Inc. was established with the goal of preserving their ancestral home, which faced potential demolition.

Through decades of community activism, the family eventually secured ownership of the property in 1961, subsequently donating it to the New York City Parks Department for restoration. By 1965 it was the first structure designated as a New York City Landmark and became a proud member of the Historic House Trust, eventually donated to the city in 1969.

After enduring a fire in the late 1970s the farmhouse finally underwent extensive renovations in the early 1980s and was opened to the public in 1982. From this moment onwards it served as a museum and educational centre highlighting the diversity of Brooklyn's colonial farms.

Today the museum operates under the mission of preserving, interpreting, and operating New York's oldest building and its surrounding 1.5 acres of parkland. But it is also committed to showcasing the Wyckoff family history in America. Through archives, collections, and special events, the association connects descendants and disseminates educational materials related to the family and the house, upholding its founding principles nearly a century later.

Visiting the Oldest House in New York City

Guided and self-guided tours delve into the rich history of the Wyckoff family and the successive modifications made to the house throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Visitors can immerse themselves in the past and gain insights into the lifestyle – particularly the challenges and triumphs – of early settlers in Brooklyn. From the kitchen hearth to the sleeping quarters, furnished with period-appropriate artefacts and decor, each space tells a story of resilience and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

For those interested in experiencing a deeper connection to history, special behind-the-scenes tours run by local historians and heritage experts, offer a unique perspective on the 17th-century farmhouse and its urban farm. Additionally, Family Day, held on the third Saturday of every month, provides fun activities for children, including cooking on open hearths and crafting colonial-style lanterns.

Through storytelling, hands-on activities, and special events, the museum fosters a deeper connection to the rich heritage of the region.

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