|Should you go?
|Best thing I saw or learned
|Jacob Dyckman was the first in his family to go to college, earning a degree from Columbia in 1806. They have his diploma on display in the parlor. Always nice to meet a fellow Columbia man.
The Dyckman Farmhouse is the least fancy historic home I’ve been to so far on this project. Owned by the Dyckman family, who had a large farm at the northern tip of Manhattan, the house is reckoned to have been built around 1783, so it’s also the oldest historic house I’ve been to yet.
The Dyckmans owned it for over 100 years, though they didn’t always live there; for a while they rented it, and it served as an inn for a bit too. As the subway was rolling north and Inwood was urbanizing, descendants of the Dyckmans decided the house should be preserved as a museum. It opened to the public in 1916.
It’s totally different from the fancy, symmetrical, Federal style of the other historic houses I’ve seen so far. Rather it is very basic, 2 stories plus a cellar, simple, small, cozy, and a little threadbare. And like all old houses, seemingly quite crowded and uncomfortable back in the day.
It’s hard to imagine the original surroundings of the house. They built it deliberately close to what was then the Kingsbridge Road (now Broadway). But mentally erasing the apartment buildings, cars, and buses and putting in rolling fields and outbuildings is hard. There’s a tiny plot of green in back and on the sides of the house, with a reconstructed Hessian hut, but it barely begins to evoke the original agrarian setting.
This would be a great opportunity for some augmented reality, though I get the sense that the Dyckman Farmhouse budget probably wouldn’t allow for anything that high tech.
I didn’t go on a tour, just walked around the house on my own, and I definitely missed the value of a good guide, who I think would’ve conveyed a better sense of the people who lived there than I got from the room descriptions alone.
I asked about Hamilton, of course, and to my surprise the answer was they’re not aware of any connections with the great man. However, George Washington likely visited the farm at some point. That said, it would be easy and instructive to combine a visit to Dyckman Farm with the Hamilton Grange, providing a contrast of styles between a working farm and a stately country retreat.
|4881 Broadway, Manhattan (at 204th St.)