I received a few lists of favorite buildings from readers, and will be reporting on the ones that I can, this month. A couple requests are worthy of entire posts, so if I run out of space in December, they will most certainly appear in 2010.
Today’s favorite houses are from Joe from Brooklyn and Lisa the City Planner. They are both important and rare remnants of Brooklyn’s Dutch past, and our borough’s agrarian history.
The Hendrick I. Lott House is in Marine Park, at 1940 E. 36th St. it is hailed as one of the finest examples of Dutch Colonial farmhouse architecture in New York City.
Charles Ditmas, writing in his Historic Homesteads of Kings County at the turn of the 20th century, called the house the finest house in all of Kings County. The white clapboard house was built in 1800 by Hendrick I. Lott, incorporating part of his grandfather’s 1720 house as the kitchen wing.
The Lott family immigrated to Brooklyn from Holland in 1652, and was a prosperous and successful farming family. The house was originally surrounded by landscaped grounds and gardens, and had barns, sheds and other outbuildings on the estate.
Like most farmers in Brooklyn at this time, the Lott’s had slaves and indentured people working on the farm. In 1805, the Lott’s freed their twelve slaves, and hired them back as workers. Historians surmise the family must have been ardent Abolitionists, as evidence of a closet within a closet, large enough for two people, and other evidence of Underground Railroad activity were discovered.
The hidden closet was a family secret passed down through the last Lott to live in the house.
Because of the rural nature of the Marine Park area, the Lott Farm still sold produce in Brooklyn and Manhattan until 1925. Jennie Lott Suydam, the many times great granddaughter of Johannes Lott, who built the original part of the house, lived there until 1952.
The last member of the family, Miss Ella Suydam, lived in the house until the 1980’s. Her estate sold the house to the City of New York in 2002, and the house is now being restored as a museum through the Hendrick I. Lott House Preservation Association, under the Historic House Trust of the NYC Parks and Recreation Department.
The house was landmarked by the LPC in 1989. An architectural dig has been going on, the exterior was repaired, restored and painted, and work is now going on to restore the interior to show life in 18th and 19th century Brooklyn, and to document the history of the Lott family.
On both Joe and Lisa’s lists is the Wyckoff-Bennett-Mont House, located at 1669 East 22nd St, in Midwood. It is the last privately owned 1700’s Dutch Colonial farmhouse in New York City.
The house was built by Henry and Abraham Wyckoff around 1766. It is considered an outstanding example of Colonial Dutch architecture, and is in excellent shape, having been lived in continuously since it was built. During the Revolutionary War, Hessian officers were quartered there.
At least one left proof; names and ranks scratched into a pane of glass, which has been carefully preserved over the years. In 1835, the Wyckoff’s sold the farm, which consisted of over 100 acres, meadows and woodlands, and a pew in the old Gravesend Dutch Reformed Church, to Cornelius Bennett, who farmed there until the turn of the 20th century.
In 1983, Bennett family members sold the house to Annette and Stuart Mont, who still live in the house. The City of New York purchased the house, under the aegis of the Historic House division of the Parks and Recreation Dept, and will allow the Monts to live in it as long as they choose, as caretakers.
The house was made a NYC landmark in 1968 and a National Historic Landmark in 1976. It is important as one of only a handful of surviving Dutch houses in the entire city, for its role in the Revolutionary War, and for over two centuries of continuous habitation as a working farm, then urban home. Here in NYC, that is a long time.
Both houses have been featured in local blogs, in Kevin Walsh’s Forgotten NY and the Lott House has a webpage. Here are some interesting blogspots, websites, and some photos are featured on Flickr. Thanks, Lisa and Joe for the suggestions! To see your favorite buildings here, please let me know what they are in the comment section.