Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Old Stone House

Back in March, R. and I took advantage of an unseasonably warm day to walk over to the Old Stone House, the closest HHTNY house to our apartment. I'd been there once in 2009, when a friend was thinking about getting married there, and it was exciting to see how things have changed in the park since then. (For one, it's not under construction anymore!)

The house is a reconstructed 1699 farmhouse, which is also known as the Vechte-Cortelyou House. The original house, which was destroyed in 1897, sat on the site adjacent to the reconstruction, closer to what is today 3rd Avenue. The Vechte family, who built the original, farmed the land around the house and harvested oysters from the nearby Gowanus Creek, which at the time, looked nothing like the Gowanus Canal we see today.

During the Revolutionary War, the house played a key role, and is where the Battle of Brooklyn took place on August 27, 1776. The battle was the first major battle to take place after the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the largest battle of the entire war. The house served as an artillery house for the British as they attacked the troops led by General George Washington.

After passing through the family (who last lived in it in 1815), the house served as a clubhouse for the Brooklyn Superbas, the baseball team that would become the Brooklyn Dodgers, before being destroyed in 1897. In 1933, the house was excavated and reconstructed using some of the original materials.

Today, the house includes an exhibit on the Battle of Brooklyn, and offers educational tours for schools. Upstairs is an event space that can be used for children's birthday parties, weddings, or meetings. (There was a birthday party going on when we visited, so I couldn't take any photos, but from what I remember in 2009, it was a nice, large space.)

My only complaint about the Old Stone House is that most of their pedagogical materials are dedicated to the Battle of Brooklyn and the Revolution, without much devoted to the house itself. With such a storied history, it makes sense to focus on the battle, but I would have loved to learn more about the house and the family who lived there while I was visiting. Overall, though, it was a great place to stop in for a bit and learn about a little bit more Revolutionary War history. I hope you'll visit next time you're in Park Slope!

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