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.
 (Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYC)
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Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYCEdgar Allan Poe Cottage
 (Photograph: Robert Levine)
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Photograph: Robert LevineThe Old Stone House
 (Photograph: Sarah Mulligan)
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Photograph: Sarah MulliganVan Cortlandt House Museum
 (Photograph: Courtesy of the Alice Austen House)
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Photograph: Courtesy of the Alice Austen HouseAlice Austen House
 (Photograph: Daniel Avila)
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Photograph: Daniel AvilaValentine-Varian House
 (Photograph: Courtesy Dyckman Farmhouse Museum)
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Photograph: Courtesy Dyckman Farmhouse MuseumDyckman Farmhouse Museum
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Historic Richmond Town
 (Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYC)
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Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYCLittle Red Lighthouse
By Caroline Lazar |
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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 Allen Poe Cottage
Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYC
Attractions, Monuments and memorials

Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

icon-location-pin The Bronx

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.

The Old Stone House
Photograph: Robert Levine
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Old Stone House

icon-location-pin Downtown

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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Van Cortlandt House Museum
Photograph: Sarah Mulligan
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Van Cortlandt House Museum

icon-location-pin The Bronx

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.

Alice Austen House
Photograph: Courtesy of the Alice Austen House
Museums, History

Alice Austen House

icon-location-pin Staten Island

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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Valentine-Valerian House
Photograph: Daniel Avila
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Valentine-Varian House (at Varian Park)

icon-location-pin The Bronx

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.

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
Photograph: Courtesy Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
Museums, Special interest

Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

icon-location-pin Inwood

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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Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

Historic Richmond Town

icon-location-pin Staten Island

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.

Little Red Lighthouse
Photograph: Courtesy Historic House Trust of NYC
Attractions, Historic buildings and sites

The Little Red Lighthouse

icon-location-pin Washington Heights

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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