2. The Old Stone House played a crucial role during the Battle of Brooklyn
Since the late 17th century, the Old Stone House has played many important roles within the Park Slope community. Listed as part of the Historic House Trust of New York City and the National Register of Historic Places. the Old Stone House currently serves as the conservancy organization for Washington Park. The organization has overseen more than $9.5 million in park renovations and works to produce educational programming for 7,000 students. In addition, the Old Stone House serves as a space for over 200 individual artist and family events each year. Located within the J.J. Byrne Playground at Washington Park on Third Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, the Old Stone House of today is a 1993 reconstruction of the Vechte-Cortelyou House which was destroyed in 1897. The original Dutch colonial farmhouse was built in 1699 on land taken from the Lenape people as early as 1639 by Claes Arentsen Vechte, a wealthy carpenter, farmer, and wheelwright. Owning the surrounding lands, the Vechte family often harvested oysters in the Gowanus Canal, ferrying them for sale in Lower Manhattan.
In 1776, the house would serve as the culminating location in the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) — the first major military engagement after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the largest battle of the American Revolution. On the morning of August 27th, as British troops approached the main American camp in Brooklyn Heights, American General William Alexander Lord Stirling realized the precarious predicament his army was in. To push the British back, Stirling led a regiment of 400 Maryland soldiers against 2,000 British troops under the command of General Charles Cornwallis stationed at the Old Stone House. Though two separate attempts were made, Stirling’s army surrendered in the end. With this loss, the British went on to occupy Brooklyn and Manhattan for the next seven years — though they failed to stop General George Washington and, which would be decisive in leading to the colonists’ ultimate victory. Today, the Old Stone House has been converted into an ongoing memorial to the Battle of Brooklyn.