The Old Stone House, J.J. Byrne Park
Third Street between Fourth & Fifth Avenues
Brooklyn, NY 11215
In the Park Slope/Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn stands a replica of a Dutch stone farmhouse with a very rich history. The Old Stone House is now an Historic Interpretive Center in J.J. Byrne Park.
The original house was built by Nicholas Vechte beside the Gowanus Creek in 1699. Its two-foot thick wall of fieldstone and brick and its heavily shuttered windows protected the family. The Vechtes prospered, farming the rich bottomland beneath the Heights of Guam and ferrying produce to market in Manhattan.
During the Battle of Brooklyn,
Long Island, August 27th, 1776, the sturdy house and
its strategic position made it the focus of the most
dramatic event of the day. The Americans had suffered
disastrous losses. The British occupied the house
and turned it into an artillery position to fire on
the defeated American soldiers. The Americans were
fleeing for their lives to the safety of American
forts across the Gowanus Creek.
Washington and his troops, that hardened the resolve of the American Army. That day, close to three quarters of those Marylanders made the ultimate sacrifice.
In 1797, the house was sold to the Cortelyou family. Almost a century later it became the first clubhouse of the Brooklyn team of the National Base Ball League, later known as the Brooklyn Dodgers.
By the 1890s the house had been demolished, but was rebuilt with the original stones in the 1930s to serve as a sports facility in the newly opened J.J. Byrne Park. After two more restorations in the 1970s and 1990s, the house is once again open to the public. Inside this replica of the original house is an educational center offering changing exhibits on the first floor and a community room on the second floor. The Old Stone House Historic Interpretive Center is operated by the First Battle Revival Alliance, named in honor of that "first battle" of the newly formed United States, the 1776 Battle of Brooklyn. The organization conducts public programs, group lessons and tours, afterschool programs, and special events.