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Stories Fill City’s Oldest Houses

George Washington slept at the Van Cortlandt House in the Bronx, and probably caught a few uneasy winks at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights, which served as his temporary headquarters during some of the darkest days of the Revolutionary War. There’s no indication, though, that he ever made it to the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House in Brooklyn, which was built in 1652 – 80 years before the father of our country was born.

The Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House rose in 1661 on Staten Island’s only road, Kings Highway. The yard near Queens’ Bowne House, an old Quaker meeting house, was the site of Flushing’s first sermon.

The five buildings have defied time, war and the elements to stand as testaments to the city’s history. Each is the oldest house in its borough – and the Pieter Claesen Wyckoff House holds the extra distinction of being the oldest house in the state.

Take a trip through living history, via the slideshow to the right.

  • Bernard Stein

    Van Cortlandt House may be the oldest surviving home in the Bronx, but it may not. Up the street on the old Post Road is the Hadley Farmhouse, a New York City landmark, whose center portion, supported by beams of split trees with the bark still on, was built in the mid 18th century and may predate the Van Cortlandt House by a year or two. The house was saved from destruction by a coverage in The Riverdale Press, which led to it being landmarked. Photos on Forgotten New York here: http://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/bronx.broadway/bronx.bwy2.html