NYC has very few historic homes from the 18th Century. The Van Cortlandt House Museum in the Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx is the oldest house in the borough and amongst the very oldest in NYC.
Van Cortlandt Park, though not yet known by that name was settled by the Dutch East India company in 1639. The area was originally called Yonkers after the estate of the original owner which was titled Jonkeerslandt. Jacob Van Cortlandt bought the now well developed farming property, complete with a 16 acre lake, in 1694 and his son built the Van Cortlandt House in 1748.
During the American Revolution the then City Clerk Augustus Van Cortlamdt hid the city records in the family burial plot on Vault Hill, near the mansion, to keep them safe from the British Army. During the Revolutionary war Rochambeau, Lafayette and Washington all used the house at various times as quarters.
After 140 years of residence the Van Cortlandts sold the the residence and the land surrounding it to the City in 1889 and it was immedaitely turned into the first house to be opended as a historic home.
It is a very fine house, built in the high Georgian style, of dressed fieldstone. Inside the furniture, clothing and artifacts of the time allow 21st Century visitors to experience life in the 18th Century and to wander the rooms used by Lafayette and Washington. Other houses from this time are just as historic but this is the sole survivor of a very well to do and substantial mansion of the time.
The Park itself in which it is set is as beautiful as the Mansion. It is over 1,000 acres in size, the third largest park in NYC, and has playing fields, playgrounds and a forested by the Tibbets waterway. The aprk also houses the antion’s first public golf course established in the 19th century.