The Van Sicklen House is among the oldest surviving Dutch-American houses in Brooklyn and the only known extant 18th century house largely of stone construction in the borough. Located in the northwest quadrant of the historic town center of Gravesend, the house is linked to the earliest colonial history of Brooklyn in that it occupies part of the house lot of Lady Deborah Moody who founded Gravesend in the 1640s. It appears to be one of the earliest surviving houses in Brooklyn and New York City.
In 1702, farmer and property owner, Ferdinandus Van Sicklen, Jr., acquired this land. Members of the Van Sicklen family were probably responsible for constructing the house, which was built in sections, beginning in the early 18th century, or perhaps earlier, and for expanding it in the mid-18th century. During the 18th century, the Van Sicklens who occupied this house were farmers and prominent members of the Gravesend community serving in a variety of municipal and institutional posts. In the mid-18th century when the rear additions were added, the roof was recentered with a gently sloping pitch and wide overhanging spring eaves creating a profile typical for mid-to-late-18th century Dutch American houses in Long Island, Staten Island and Central New Jersey. Other 18th century features which make the Van Sicklen House an excellent example of the Long Island-Central New Jersey Dutch American house type include its one-and-a-half-story form achieved through the use of Dutch anchor beam construction, its low proportions, rectangular plan, and the location of its door and window openings, on the western half of the façade and gabled end walls.
The house was occupied by the Van Sicklens and later by the family of Cornelia Van Sicklen Hicks and her husband, Thomas Hicks, until the early 1900s. In 1904, the house was acquired by realtor William E. Platt, who with his wife Isabelle, made extensive alterations, including the addition of dormer windows, incorporating decorative elements inspired by the Colonial Revival Style and the prevalent Arts and Crafts aesthetic. The Platts were responsible for popularizing the longstanding idea that this had been the ancient home of Lady Deborah.
The house remains on its original site and is located across the street from the designated Gravesend-Van Sicklen Cemetery. The structure is one of the few remaining buildings that represent the early history of Gravesend, a significant New York colonial community.
STATUS Designated Historic District
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Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
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Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
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Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
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Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society