The Birth, Life and Death of Bushwick’s 200-Year-Old Suydam House

Bushwick's Suydam House circa 1700. Image via NYPL

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A walk down Bushwick’s Evergreen Avenue will have you winding through the nabe’s diversely developed streets and past the former location of one of the neighborhood’s oldest homes, a well-kept Dutch farmhouse with thick stone walls and a sloping roof. Built around 1700 or so, the Suydam House stood for about two centuries on the corner of what is now Evergreen and Woodbine streets.

Who exactly built it remains a mystery: Some sources credit Leffert Lefferts, then patriarch of one branch of the wealthy Lefferts family. Others claim it was a man known as Van Nuyse.

Bushwick Brooklyn History

The Suydam House in 1899, shortly before it was demolished. Photo by Daniel Berry Austin via the Brooklyn Public Library

In any case, somehow it came into the Lefferts family, one of whose members sold it to the home’s namesake, Jacob Suydam, in 1768, according to the blog The Weekly Nabe.

The house predated the modern street grid. Originally it stood on a curving street known as Bushwick Lane, a predecessor to Evergreen Avenue.

During the Revolutionary War, the Suydam House was taken over by Hessian soldiers, who damaged the well-kept Dutch home, much to the chagrin of author T.W. Field, who compares the Hessians to “a horde of wild Vandals” in his 1868 book Historic and Antiquarian Scenes in Brooklyn and Its Vicinity.

Bushwick Brooklyn History

The former location of the Suydam House today. Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

Despite the damage they inflicted, the house survived until 1900, when it was sold to a church group, who razed it to make way for their new house of worship.

“A Landmark to Disappear,” read a New York Times headline on December 25, 1899, referring to the home as “the oldest of the few Dutch houses now left in the Williamsburg section.”

The church, now Evergreen Baptist Church, still stands on the site today at 455 Evergreen Avenue.

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