When you visit Dyckman Farmhouse on the corner of Broadway and West 204th St you are visiting the oldest farmhouse still remaining on Manhattan Island, a humble but very significant building. Once standing on 250 acres it is now confined to it’s own small park and it is in the midst of a thoroughly towering urban environment. But go inside and you have stepped back almost 3 centuries. It’s an mazing experience.
Built in 1785 by Jan Dyckman, he was at the time replacing his earlier home on the Harlem river which was destroyed during the Revolutionary war. While the house you see today, built of fieldstone, brick and white clapboard is all original, it’s porches were a slightly later addition.
The house went out of the original family’s hands and they then bought it back in 1915. They then transferred ownership to the city of New York city in 1916. And miraculously it has never been modernised because successive renters and owners, before the Dyckman’s reclaimed it, thought it would be demolished and spent no money on it.
The original Dyckman family furnishings, meticulously preserved, are in the farmhouse, plus what original period furniture was needed to give to present day visitors an exact picture of how the house once looked. It deserves all the special treatment as it can get, as it is the not just the only original farmhouse reamining in Manhattan, it is also the only Dutch Colonial sytle farmhouse still standing. It is of course a city and National Historic Landmark building.
As you can tell from the video, the Parks Department is working diligently to try and preserve this wonderful building but it can certaily absorb as much TLC as there is to go around. Buildings of this age and type of construction are incredibly fragile and need a lot of work all the time. It is a precious reminder of a time when this part of Manhattan was mainly rolling farmland dotted with buildings of this sort.
It’s a small building and no more than 10 people are allowed in it at any one time. It is open from 11am-5pm Fri-sun. Go to Dyckman Farmhouse for details or ring 212 304 9422 to arrange a tour.