Friday, April 15, 2011

Dyckman Farmhouse: Broadway at 204th Street

The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum was built in 1784 by one of the earliest Dutch farmers of New Amsterdam (now New York City), Jan Dyckman.  Jan's grandson, William, inherited the Dyckman land but during the British occupation fled upstate.  After the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), William returned to find the family home destroyed but rebuilt the building that is currently the museum.

During the war, the British housed their hired Hessian (German) soldiers on the Dyckman farmland, and you can get a good sense of what that life was like through the reconstructed Hessian military hut (there were more than 60 on the farmlands) in the garden (see left).  Needless to say, it was a very austere life in cramped quarters (makes you appreciate the small space you may be living in if you live in the City).

The Dyckman Farmhouse itself was also very small.  With a few of rooms redecorated to their 1815-20 state (when the farmhouse was donated to the City as a museum), the nicely but sparsely decorated main and second floors were like some of the other historical homes I've recently toured (see my blog on the Merchant's House).  The parlor on the main floor was multifunctional for dining, sewing, writing, etcetera (see right).  The second floor bedrooms were plain and had to sleep up to 9 household members.

Unfortunately, the house is small and the half acre garden feels even smaller (see left, view from back patio), especially when one considers the 250 acres that once was a part of this farm (one of the largest in northern Manhattan).  If you are going to take the time to visit this museum in this northern part of the City, I would highly recommend walking the few blocks over to visit The Cloister Museum (my blog will continue next with my visit yesterday). The self-guided tour of the Dyckman Farmhouse is offered for mere $1 and if you have any questions, you can ask the volunteer who mans the museum Wed-Sat 11 am to 4 pm and Sun 12-4 pm (check for current details). 

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