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April 2003 - Capital Project of the Month

Wyckoff House Park



Rachel Kramer: Landscape Architect Project Manager

Renata Sokolowski: Model Builder

Reza Mashayekhi: Historic Research Aid

Peter Williams: Structural Engineering

Ruby Wei: Specifications

Paul Schubert, John Krawchuk: Architecture

Dennis Toole: CADD

Ben Mulchandani & Sakkapan Pothiwit: Electrical Engineering

Sobers Bhagroo, Margarita Karpman & Geoffrey Lawrence: Survey

Funding: This project is funded jointly by combination Mayoral, Council and State DOT money with a total budget of $420,000.

Location: Wyckoff House Park is located at Clarendon Road and Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn. It is within Council District #45 and Community Board #45.



PARK HISTORY


This Wyckoff House was built c. 1652 and is the oldest house in New York City. The Wyckoff House has survived over 350 years as its surrounding farmland was slowly swallowed up by the expanding city. The existing property is just a fragment of the original farm that had existed on this site since the mid 17th Century. The Wyckoff House is one of the few Dutch farmhouses to survive the rapid urbanization of the early 20th Century. The house retains its original orientation on the site.



In 1982, after years of neglect, the Wyckoff House was restored to its 1818 charm and converted into a museum. The surrounding 1.13 acres has been designed to be more functional and historic. This proposed park design is based on the historic data, which will help to tell the story of the land and the people who lived and worked there

The house is named for Pieter Claesen Wyckoff, an indentured servant who in 1637 was taken from the Netherlands to America, where he became a successful farmer and magistrate. His descendants lived in the house until 1901. Bought by a family foundation in 1961, the house became the first official landmark in New York City in 1965, was donated to the city in 1970, and underwent restoration in 1982. A modest dwelling with pine floors, shingled walls, and a steeply pitched roof, Wyckoff House contains artifacts and furniture representative of colonial life. Today, the house is owned by the City of New York/Parks & Recreation, maintained by the Historic House Trust of NYC and operated by the Wyckoff House & Association, Inc. Programs at the house explore the heritage of Brooklyn's Dutch farming communities and include demonstrations of household and farm activities.

The barn in this proposed plan of the park will be built in a future phase. The Wyckoff Association has purchased the Durling Barn, built c. 1810 from a Wyckoff relative in Hillsborough, New Jersey. The barn will be located on a portion of the agricultural field.

PARK DESIGN

The purpose of this project is to reconstruct Wyckoff House Park. Research on the history of the Wyckoff Farmstead was done in order to create a design that would uncover the site's rich history. The Museum intends to incorporate the new park design into an interpretive tour of the grounds.

The main entryway will be relocated to bring visitors through a new orchard of heirloom variety apple trees and onto New Canarsie Lane, which was vacated at the end of the 19th Century.

At the bend in the path, there is a split-rail double gate which opens onto the wagon drive, were the Wyckoffs kept their pull-carts. Next to the wagon drive is a new cedar storage shed and work-yard. From the new main entrance, visitors also have the option to take a narrower pathway that follows a new split-rail-fence lined with historic varieties of climbing rose bushes. An opening in the fence leads you through a new agricultural area that will be tended by the community. As one approaches the Museum there is a berry garden located to the east of the house, which includes, chokeberies, raspberries, currants and blackberries.

This project will also include two detention systems to help prevent sewer water from backing up onto the park property. Ground hydrants will be installed in key garden areas to aid in future maintenance of the site. The back of the house has an unusual triangle shape with steep sides of fill that were added in the 1960s. A new Kitchen Garden of raised cedar plant beds, will be located to the back of the house, set a crushed clam shell path. The existing timber steps and HVAC unit will be relocated further from the house. A new structure will be placed over the HVAC unit to camouflage it, resembling of an icehouse. The relocated steps will be aligned with the long abandoned Canarsie Indian Trail that ran to the south of the Wyckoff House

The steep slopes will be reinforced with a stone sitting wall that can used by visiting groups while they listen to lectures within view of the oldest and most historic view of the house. The slopes and the area underneath the trees will be planted with perennials to help prevent soil erosion.