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Historic houses in NYC: eight things you didn’t know

Think New York’s historic houses are boring? Think again—here are eight things you didn’t know about these dwellings.

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Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYC

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

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Photograph: Robert Levine

The Old Stone House

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Photograph: Sarah Mulligan

Van Cortlandt House Museum

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Photograph: Courtesy of the Alice Austen House

Alice Austen House

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Photograph: Daniel Avila

Valentine-Varian House

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Photograph: Courtesy Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

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Historic Richmond Town

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Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYC

Little Red Lighthouse

We know what you’re thinking: Historic houses aren’t that cool. But Time Out has gathered stories about Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Austen and more that prove NYC’s historical attractions are, in fact, much more interesting than you’d ever imagined.

RECOMMENDED: Museums in New York

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

The Bronx dwelling where Poe spent his final years is the birthplace of the author’s freakiest works—“The Bells,” “Annabel Lee” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” among others. And there are even creepier elements: Mysterious artifacts were found in the wall of a room where Poe’s young wife, Virginia, slept, and visitors can view the bed frame that she died on.

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The Bronx

Old Stone House

John Turturro narrates the audio tour at this Park Slope site, where parts of the Battle of Long Island—the largest of the Revolution—took place. The park itself was the location for the original clubhouse of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Downtown

Van Cortlandt House Museum

George Washington famously slept at this manse on at least two occasions during the Revolutionary War, as well as once on his way back into Manhattan to reclaim the city from the British. It was also the first historic house in NYC to open as a museum, in 1896.

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The Bronx

Alice Austen House

This Victorian Gothic cottage was home to photographer and noted badass Alice Austen, who was known for her gritty street photography—and for being the first woman on Staten Island to own a car.

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Staten Island

Valentine-Varian House (at Varian Park)

At 255 years old, this is the second-oldest house in the Bronx, and serves as the current Museum of Bronx History. The building was moved from Boston Post Road in 1965 with two giant cranes.

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The Bronx

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

When you visit the oldest farmhouse in Manhattan, ask to see the still-visible board used for nine men’s morris, a strategic game dating back to the Roman Empire. It’s carved into the giant rock outcropping on which the home was built, and while theories have been floated over the years as to the etching’s provenance, so far it’s a mystery.

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Inwood

Historic Richmond Town

The preserved village plays host to costumed blacksmiths, shoemakers and tinsmiths as well as the Voorlezer’s House, the oldest wooden elementary schoolhouse still standing in America.

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Staten Island

The Little Red Lighthouse

Run by the Urban Park Rangers and originally called Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse, the Fort Washington Park landmark earned its nickname in 1942 with the publication of Hildegarde H. Swift’s The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.

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Washington Heights

Comments

1 comments
Keith Williams
Keith Williams

Sad to see just one in Brooklyn. The Old Stone House, more specifically, was where the Maryland 400 sacrificed themselves to allow General Washington and the rest of the army to escape. ("Good God! What brave fellows I must this day lose," Washington famously said.) Wyckoff Farmhouse, the oldest residential structure in the state, would have been great pick - and is actually a "house", unlike the Little Red Lighthouse.