Van Brunt House...
New Utrecht: Van Brunt House, Circa 1752 : 84 Street, south side between 18 Avenue and Bay 16 Street, Rear view. Demolished 1928, New York, New York, 1922.
1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano names the island of Manhattan, New Angoulême, in commemoration of his patron, King Francis I of France
1609 Henry Hudson explores New York Bay on behalf of the Dutch East India Company
1624 The first Dutch settlers arrive and establish themselves on the Noten Eylant (now Governor’s Island)
1625 The Dutch begin settlement of the island of Manhattan and name it the New Amsterdam
1647 Peter Stuyvesant arrives in New Amsterdam as the new Director General of the colony
1653 Rutger Joesten Van Brunt arrives in New Amsterdam
1657 The village of New Utrecht is settled by nineteen Dutch families
1658 The Rutger Joesten Van Brunt House is built
Colonel Robert Magaw and Marritje Van Brunt Magaw’s son Van Brunt.
1714 The Van Brunt-Robert Homestead is built
1836 Jane Cowenhoven Robert and her family move into the homestead
1893 Dr. John C. Robert, the last resident of the homestead, dies
1916 The Van Brunt-Robert Homestead is demolished
2016 Bank of America is built on the site of the homestead
THE DUTCH COLONISTS
Rutger Joesten Van Brunt emigrated from The Netherlands in 1653, when the Dutch were still in control of New Amsterdam. The British would take over the city and rename it New York in another eleven years. In the meantime, when Van Brunt arrived, the city, which was settled in 1625, was already crowded and busy with commercial life.
In May 1657, Rutger married Tryntje Claesen, but the newlyweds did not stay in New Amsterdam too long. When on August 27, 1657, Director General Peter Stuyvesant, granted a petition to establish a settlement on the western end of Long Island, the Van Brunts took the opportunity and left the busy city. They joined eighteen other Dutch families as colonists of a new village of New Utrecht. One year after their settlement, the Van Brunts built a house close to what would later become a town center.
In February 1660, Stuyvesant visited the village, “on which occasion he admonished the residents each to erect a suitable dwelling, to keep a man-servant able to bear arms, and also to [e]nclose the village with good heavy palisades.” By the end of the year, there “were then eleven houses in the settlement,” but to build the palisades, the villagers asked the Director General to send some slaves.
New Utrecht grew slowly and with it, the Van Brunt family. Rutger and Tryntje had three sons, namely Nicholas, Cornelis and Joost. While his wife was taking care of the children, Rutger was busy as an officer of the court of justice of the peace. When the English took over the colonies from the Dutch in 1664, they established an office of magistrate; Van Brunt was appointed to this office several times between late 1670s and 1680s. Such was the reputation of Rutger Joesten Van Brunt that he was able to hold office both during the Dutch and the English rule, so that the venerable historian Teunis G. Bergen considered him “one of the most influential citizens of the newly begun village of New Utrecht.”
THE HOUSE THAT JOOST BUILT
Like their father, all the Van Brunt children were involved in the progress of New Utrecht as a peaceful village. Their youngest son, Joost Rutgersz Van Brunt, who married Aeltie Van Voorhees on April 16, 1687, held various offices in the village: a deacon and an elder of the church; ensign, captain, lieutenant colonel and colonel of militia; and supervisor of the town.
Joost also owned a considerable amount of property in New Utrecht. One of those tracts of land was a farmland on which Joost built a house that is the subject of this work. He modeled it after the one built by his parents in 1658. Charles Andrew Ditmas, the only historian to mention its existence in his writings, called it the Van Brunt-Robarts Homestead. He wrote:
Compared with the Colonel Jeromus Lott House erected previous to the Revolution, and to other landmarks of the pre-Revolution period, it was erected in the first part of the 18th century, as after 1750 the houses were given a higher foundation.