Park Slope’s Town Square
1934 to Today: A Hub for the Community
By 1910, the Old Stone House had fallen into disrepair, and was gradually buried under 15’ of landfill as Park Slope developed into the brownstone neighborhood that we know today.
On August 11, 1935, JJ Byrne Playground opened on the site of the “Old Gowanus House” — just one of the 203 playgrounds opened that year as part of Robert Moses’ ambitious playground construction program. Today’s Old Stone House was modeled on the Vechte family farmhouse, using stones retrieved from the original building site close to the corner of 3rd Street and Fifth Avenue, incorporating Dutch elements like the iron numbers on the eaves to mark the year the house was originally built – 1699.
Thanks to the advocacy of community leaders like Charles M. Higgins (1854 – 1929) and the members of the First Battle Revival Alliance in the 1980’s and ‘90’s, a long-term effort began to establish the site as an on-going memorial to the Battle of Brooklyn.
Today, the Old Stone House & Washington Park is part of the Historic House Trust of New York City, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Serving as the conservancy organization for the park, OSH&WP has overseen $9.5 million in park renovations, provides education programming for 7,000 students annually, and fosters a welcoming space for more than 200 individual artists, small and medium sized arts organizations and family events each year.
Photos: Bob Levine; farmers’ market photo courtesy of Down To Earth Markets.