As one of his final acts as the 109th mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio came to the Old Stone House Museum in Park Slope’s Washington Park on Fifth Avenue and Third Street on Dec. 23. He joined former City Councilman and NYC Comptroller-elect Brad Lander and Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher to announce a $10.9 million allocation for the historic site.
The funding will be used to increase accessibility and upgrade the building. While not a city landmark, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In his remarks, de Blasio cited Kim Maier for the outstanding work she has been doing as the museum’s executive director and curator for so many years.
The house was reconstructed in 1934, using many of the stones that were buried and then excavated from parts of the original building, which was built by Claes Vechte in 1699. An item in the May 19, 1935 Brooklyn Daily Eagle said, “1,500 Attend Colorful Ceremony Sponsored by Old Brooklynites, Which Perpetuates Heroic Battle of Revolution at 3rd St. and 4th Ave. South Brooklyn.”
On the spot where “the Declaration of Independence was sealed in blood on the fields of South Brooklyn,” the reconstructed Old Stone House was dedicated under the sponsorship of the Society of Old Brooklynites and the Department of Parks. Representatives of civic, historical and veterans’ groups heard speakers describe the gallant defense of less than 500 American troops who threw back 20,000 British Redcoats, preventing the utter defeat of the colonies at the outset of the war – which allowed Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army to retreat across the bay to Manhattan and eventually on to victory.
Borough Building Commissioner Edwin H. Thatcher accepted the house and playground for Borough President Raymond Ingersoll and the borough. Frederick Gross, borough director of parks, made the presentation.
The ceremony included color guards from the New York Police Department and the Old Guards of New York, and the NYC Parks Department Band. Henry L. Redfield, president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, said, “We honor ourselves in rededicating the Old Stone House. Let us remember with religious awe that as citizens we should rededicate ourselves to the sentiments of Washington and the Declaration of Independence.”
“Our better natures respond to the deeds of great men who made America what it is today,” said former Brooklyn Magistrate Leo Healy.
In the interest of full disclosure, and as the current first vice president of the Society of Old Brooklynites, we are very pleased that the city government has responded with appropriate funding for the enhanced development of the Old Stone House.