Get our carefully curated newsletter straight to your inbox.
New York City is experiencing a sort of growth spurt — there are new buildings going up every day. Despite its new construction, the city remains home to some of the oldest buildings in New York. You can find the oldest apartment building in NYC among an increasing number of chain stores and towering skyscrapers. The oldest house in NYC dates back to the 1700s. Most of these buildings are historic — some even existed during the American Revolution.
We’ve Compiled Our List of the 20 Oldest Apartment Buildings in NYC
The Wyckoff house was a source of inspiration for many newly constructed houses at the time. The Hendrick I. Lott House was no exception. Johannes Lott acquired a farm in Flatlands in 1719 and built the farmhouse in a manner similar to the Wyckoff house. In the 1790s, Lott’s grandson expanded the farmhouse to span 200 acres. Following his massive rebuilding project, the only thing left of the original house was the kitchen.
Construction of the property continued well into the 20th century. The last owner of the farm died in 1989, and then the NYC Parks Department purchased the house. Now the house is in the process of being restored.
Alice Austen (1886-1952), a photographer, owned this house. She is one of the pioneers in outdoor photography and said to be one of the earliest female photographers who worked outside of the studio. She produced nearly 7,000 pictures of the changing landscape of NYC.
The house, which is also known as Clear Comfort, is a member of the Historic House Trust and is now designated as a museum. A volunteer group called “Friends of Alice Austen” manages the property.
Note: The house continues to host school programs, including photography summer camps.
Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum was built in 1652. Initially, the Flatlands section of Brooklyn lay in the Dutch village of New Amersfoort. In 1652, Claesen Wyckoff, an indentured servant from Rensselaerswyck, and his wife, Grietje, relocated to Brooklyn. They built this one-room farmhouse and raised their family, which consisted of 11 children. The house was converted into a museum; the kitchen of the house remains untouched.
Note: Guided tours are offered between 1 – 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays only.
Blacksmith Isaac Valentine built this two-story farmhouse. At the time, it was close to the Boston Post Road. Which used to be the main avenue of New York City. It allowed Isaac Valentine to do plenty of work in his shop. In 1965, he donated the house to the Bronx Historical Society. Now it is home to the Museum of Bronx History.
Jan Martense Schenck House is one of the oldest houses in NYC. It has stood firm for 275 years in the Mill Basin section of Flatlands. It’s a 45-minute walk from the Wyckoffs’ farm. The house was owned by the Schenck family but was acquired by the Brooklyn Museum in 1952. After stripping away the home’s additions in the 1960s, it was placed in one of the museum’s period rooms as a typical Dutch house. The house underwent additional cosmetic changes in 2005 in which it was repainted red.
In 1664, John Bowne returned to America, and the Quakers of Flushing started meeting on his property. George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, also visited the house in 1676. Bowne donated a portion of his land to use as a Quaker graveyard in 1676; in years that followed, the adjacent land was purchased by the Society of Friends to use as a meeting space. The house remains New York City’s oldest house of worship even now.
Note: You can visit at noon on Sundays after the group’s weekly meeting.
The Van Cortlandt’s were one the earliest and wealthiest colonists of the United States. The house was built for Frederick Van Cortlandt as a farm and brewery. Oloff Stevenson Van Cortlandt ran the colony’s first brewery. His granddaughter, Anne, married one of the most influential figures in English Colonial New York — Stephen Delancey. After the British took over Manhattan during the Revolutionary War. Patriots hid important city documents here. History also tells us George Washington slept here during the war.
Note: Visitors can take self-guided tours of the garden and the house.
The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead is the oldest house in NYC. The homestead, which is located in Queens, is still used as a private dwelling. It was initially built as a one-room farmhouse by Abraham Riker in 1654. The Rikers family later gained fame when they started using the surname “Lent,” named after their hometown in the Netherlands. The house has been owned by Marion Duckworth Smith and Michael Duckworth Smith since 1975.
Note: The house is not open to the public, but group tours are available.
It is known as Queens Farm, and it spans over 47 acres. A Dutch family owned the farm from 1697 to 1808. From 1808 until 1926, the farm moved between many owners. In 1926, a real estate investor named Pauline Reisman purchased the property. He then sold it to Creedmoor State Hospital. In 1975, state legislation proposed converting the property into a museum, which is how it continues to operate to this day. The farm is NYC’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland.
Poe Cottage is the borough’s third oldest building according to the Bronx County Historical Society. It was built in 1816 in a village called Fordham. In May 1846, Edgar Allan Poe built this house. Which housed him, his wife, and his mother-in-law. He was an American poet, writer, editor, and literary critic. Best known for his short stories and poetry. He was one of the earliest practitioners of short stories. Edgar Allan Poe and his wife both lived in the house until their deaths. The cottage was moved to its current location in 1913 to preserve and maintain the legacy of Edgar Allan Poe.
The story of John Bowne is likely familiar to students who’ve studied religious freedom in the U.S. In 1657, the Flushing Remonstrance was a plea from the Society of Friends for religious tolerance in a colony with no tolerance for the sort. When Bowne invited Quakers to worship in his home, he was banished to the Netherlands. He pursued his case with Dutch authorities directly, and the Dutch director-general Peter Stuyvesant endorsed Bowe’s stance and sent him back to the U.S. in 1664. The home is currently being restored to its original design.
Note: The Bowne House is open to the public on Wednesdays from 1 – 4 p.m. by appointment.
Billiou-Stillwell-Perine House is the oldest house on Staten Island. The house was built in 1661 by Pierre Billiou, one of the founders of Oude Dorp. Thomas Stillwell, Billiou’s son-in-law, moved another place to the property from elsewhere and connected it to Billiou’s home in the late 17th or early 18th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries, more additions contributed to how it looks today.
Note: The home is occasionally open to the public.
If you are interested in seeing a great collection of colonial buildings in NYC, you must visit historic Richmond Town. It has splendid examples of 17th, 18th, and 19th-century houses. Among its elegant collection of homes is a wood structure known as Britton Cottage, which dates back to 1670. The house is undergoing restoration.
Note: The house is not open to the public.
St. Paul’s Chapel was built as a “chapel of ease” connected to the more upscale Trinity just a few blocks away. It’s also where George Washington used to worship. St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest church in Manhattan, and the surrounding area of the church is called “Holy Ground.” This is ironic because the site was once used by Manhattan’s prostitutes. The chapel is built in the Georgian ecclesiastical architecture style.
Even the oldest buildings in Manhattan are relatively young in comparison to those in other parts of New York City. The oldest home in Manhattan was built roughly 100 years after the Wyckoff home in Brooklyn. British loyalist Roger Morris built this lavish mansion. It was one of the finest houses in the area at that time. George Washington stayed here in 1776. Later, George Washington purchased this house. And it was in this house that Washington’s widow, Eliza, married former Vice President Aaron Burr in 1833.
Note: The mansion is open to the public and also hosts temporary exhibitions.
The course of the Revolutionary War would not be the same had things gone differently here on September 11, 1776. On that day, Edward Rutledge, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin met with Lord Richard Howe, Admiral of the British Fleet, to discuss peace at a house built by Christopher Billopp, a ship’s captain, in 1680. The talks soon failed, as the first target of the British was the revocation of the Declaration of Independence. In the coming week, George Washington’s troops were driven out of Manhattan. Manhattan remained the British headquarters throughout the war.
Note: Conference House Park is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from April until mid-December.
William Dyckman built this farmhouse in 1784 during a time when northern Manhattan was largely rural farmland. The farmhouse was built after his first home was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. Through the 1870s, the Dyckman family called the farmhouse home. But later moved out and converted it into a rental property. Later, Alice Dyckman Dean purchased the house and restored it to its 1784 appearance.
Note: The museum is open to the public on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Old Stone House was initially built-in 1699. But was later demolished in 1699. The House was built by Dutch immigrant Claes Arentson Vechte. It served as the headquarters of a professional baseball team called The Brooklyn Superbas. In 1933, the house was reconstructed, and it still contains much of the original material from its original construction.
Note: The house is used for various public events including a summer camp.
Lorillard Snuff Mill, which is also called The Stone Mill, is the oldest factory building in New York City. It was built in 1840 on the grounds of the New York Botanical Garden. It is also the oldest tobacco plant in the country.
In 1671, NY Mayor Stephanus Van Cortlandt built his home at the current site. He, later, gave the property to his son-in-law Stephen Delancy. He built the current house in 1719. Since 1904, the building has been owned by a society named “Sons of the Revolution”. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The good thing is that some of the original pieces also remain intact, which makes it one of the oldest houses in NYC.
NYC is a perfect blend of tradition, history, development, and technical advancement. You will find these traits in the real estate sector as well. Sprinkled among the city’s skyscrapers are some real gems. That hold within them some of New York City’s history and mysteries.