When sisters Mary Alice Dyckman Dean and Fannie Fredericka Dyckman Welch donated their aging family farmhouse to the City of New York they preserved a connection to New York’s early Dutch history that survives to this very day.
When presented to the City in 1915, the farmhouse was already more than a century old. At the time the sagging old homestead sat on a portion of the once massive Dyckman farmlands which were rapidly being divided up into city blocks.
It took some foresight, but the gift ensured the preservation of the only remaining farmhouse on the Island of Manhattan; this as the springs and meadows of the Inwood valley were being razed to prepare for the downtown crowds lured north by the ever expanding subway system.
The house itself, built by William Dyckman in 1784, was the third in a succession of Dyckman homes. The Dyckmans had been in the area since 1666, when Jan Dyckman, and a small band of Dutch neighbors, re-settled northern Manhattan after previous settlers had been killed or driven off by Native Americans.
The current house was actually built out of necessity. The previous home was burned by the British after the Dyckmans made known their support of the American cause.
In fact, William Dyckman finished construction on his farmhouse one year after the British evacuated the City. William would die inside his comfortable new home in 1787.
By the turn of the century, the farmhouse had fallen into the hands of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Judge who had purchased the home at auction. Seeing the historic value of the house, Judge offered to donate the home to the city, provided they picked up the tab to move it to another location. The real estate the farmhouse sat on was simply too valuable to give away.
And while the city wasn’t willing to foot the bill, the descendents of Jan Dyckman were quick to come to the rescue. They bought their former family home back from Judge in 1915 and made a gift of both home and property to the city “upon condition that the said land and dwelling be used in perpetuity as a public park and as a public museum, and called “The Dyckman House Park.‘”
The house and museum opened to the public in 1916.
Today the farmhouse is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City, thus ensuring its survival and enjoyment for future generations.
For Dyckman House Museum visiting hours and other information click here.