GREENSTREET

The Daily Plant : Monday, May 3, 2004

AFTER 350 YEARS, CITY'S OLDEST HOUSE TO GET NEW GARDEN


At M. Fidler Park in Brooklyn, the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like in America over three hundred years ago. Last week, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Assembly Member Helene Weinstein, Council Member Kendall Stewart, Historic House Trust of New York City Executive Director Thérèse Braddick, Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Julius Spiegel, Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum Director Sean Sawyer, Wyckoff descendant James Wyckoff, and others to kick off a $753,000 project that will bring an orchard, garden, paths, and a stone sitting wall to the site. Second-graders from P.S. 172 also attended the festivities and took a tour of the house.

"We’re adding new gardens, trees, and pathways so that visitors can imagine what it might have been like to live here hundreds of years ago, when this house was surrounded by fields and the biggest town around was Nieuw Amersfoort," said Commissioner Benepe. He quizzed the second-graders about the historic house—and the children amazed the crowd by consistently answering his questions correctly.

The commissioner explained how New York City’s oldest surviving home will receive many improvements to recreate the past environment and allow visitors to experience what life was like in the city centuries ago. The project’s scope calls for the conversion of the existing park into an interpretive farmstead. Funding for the project was allocated by the Mayor, the City Council, and the State Department of Transportation, and includes the planting of a new orchard with heirloom variety apples, a kitchen garden and a berry garden, the construction of a clamshell pathway and stone sitting wall, and new park security lighting.

Built circa 1652, the Wyckoff 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.

The Historic House Trust of New York City is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 to help the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation preserve its collection of historic houses located in city parks. The Trust works with Parks & Recreation and the non-profit boards of the individual houses to restore, interpret, and promote these sites, to educate residents and visitors about the social, economic and political history of New York City, and to contribute to the vitality of surrounding communities.

"This is an exciting beginning in the transformation of the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum," remarked Thérèse Braddick. "None of this would be possible without the dedication and vision of the House Director Sean Sawyer, the Wyckoff House & Association, and the surrounding communities."

Learn more about the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum.

Written by Eric Adolfsen

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas."

Groucho Marx

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