Seeing photos of Alexander Hamilton’s Grange today got me interested in the finding the oldest houses in each borough. I’ll try to be brief and give you links to official websites.
In Manhattan, the oldest house is the Morris-Jumel House which was briefly the home of Aaron Burr, the man who killed Hamilton. It was built about 1765 as a summer retreat for British colonel Roger Morris. George Washington slept there during the Revolutionary War. In 1810, Stephen Jumel, a rich French merchant and his wife Eliza bought the property. As a widow, Eliza married Aaron Burr in 1833 but the marriage lasted only 6 months.
The Bronx has the Van Cortlandt House. In 1694, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, who became a Mayor of New York, purchased the parcel of land that today contains Van Cortlandt Park. His son Frederick built the house in 1748-49. George Washington stayed at the Van Cortlandt House at least twice during the Revolutionary War.
Bowne House in Queens has the honor of being the oldest house in the borough. It was built in 1661 by John Bowne, who emigrated from England to Boston in 1649 and settled in Flushing, Queens, when New York was under Dutch Rule.
In Staten Island, the Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House usually takes the honors as the oldest house in the borough. The original section was built in 1662 but it was significantly enlarged in 1830.
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
Brooklyn’s Wyckoff Farmhousewas built in about 1652. Peter Claesen Wyckoff, a street kid in Europe, stowed away on a ship and landed at New Netherlands in 1637. (That’s what the Dutch called Manhattan in those days.) He started his new life in New Netherlands as an indentured servant to the van Rensselaer family. Upon emancipation he married and settled in the village of Nieuw Amersfoort, what we call East Flatbush-Flatlands. His house reminds us that all of our ancestors were immigrants who sought the New Netherlander Dream.
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