If you happen to be walking along Broadway and 204th Streets, you’ll find it’s one of the busiest commercial intersections in Inwood.
If you look up, you won’t believe your eyes. Perched above that area is a Dutch Colonial farmhouse built in 1784. It was bought by the city in 1916 and turned into a museum.
Naiomy Rodrigues, Director of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, guided us through the house and the history of the Dyckmans. Jan Dyckman came to America in 1660 and bought a tract of farmland which remained in the Dyckman family nearly two hundred and forty years.
His son William built the farmhouse, continuing to amass more farmland, real estate and wealth. A good thing too, since his son, Jacobus and wife Hannah had eleven children to support! Fertility abounded outside as well, with an orchard of apple and cherry trees.
The house reeks of history since 35% of it is original, including the floor. It is undergoing its first renovation in ten years, so only three rooms were open to visitors. The parlor has a fireplace lined in 18th century tiles; a “relic room” presents diverse artifacts. The third room displayed a Dyckman genealogy chart, as well as a lighthearted piece of sculpture: the Dyckman Farmhouse entirely made of Legos.
Naiomy shared personal stories, both interesting and hilarious. Jacob Dyckman, son of Jacobus, was the first Dyckman male to reject farming. He attended Columbia University and became a doctor. He never married and died at 34, but not before making a pact with his nephew, James Fredrick Smith. If James would change his name to Dyckman, Jacob would leave him everything: his house, farmland, real estate, and wealth. Faster than you can say “opportunist,” James officially became Isaac Michael Dyckman.
The Dyckman Farmhouse museum is a vital cultural asset in New York City – a reminder of a rural lifestyle that disappeared in the transformation from farming community to urban neighborhood.