• Painting of the Vechte-Cortelyou House known today as the Old Stone House

Home to a 1699 Dutch farmhouse

1699-1852: Dutch Family Farm

The Old Stone House was located in the Gowanus section of the town of Breukelen, one of the six small towns comprising Kings County.  The name, Gowanus, may be derived from the Native American or the Dutch.  Claes Arentsen Vechte and his son Hendrick Claessen Vechte built the Old Stone House in 1699 on land that was taken from the Lenape as early as 1639.

Hendrick Claessen Vechte was a wealthy man.  His will shows that he was a carpenter and a wheelwright, as well as a farmer.  His son, Nicholas Vechte. was born in 1704 and lived at the Old Stone House with his wife, Abigail, through the Revolutionary War.  Their extended family lived nearby. Like many of their neighbors, the Vechtes relied on enslaved Africans for labor.

Nicholas R. Cowenhoven, Nicholas Vechte’s grandson, sold the farm to Jacques Cortelyou in 1790.   The Cortelyous sold the farm to Edwin Litchfield in 1852.

We went upon several plantations [in Gowanus] where…the people…made us very welcome, sharing with us bountifully whatever they had…. It is impossible to tell how many peach trees we passed, all laden with fruit…. We found Gouanes oysters, which are the best in the country…. They are large and full, some of them not less than a foot long….

From the September 1679 entries of the
Journal of Jasper Danckaerts

Image: Brooklyn Historical Society.