Right next door to the Stone Park Café is a historical remnant of The Revolutionary War, specifically The Battle of Brooklyn (a.k.a The Battle of Long Island). It is situated at the far end of Washington Park and if you aren’t looking for it or walking right by it, you can miss it. It is very unassuming waiting for those who walk in to share its tale. This house played quite the role in the foundation of America.
When it comes to history there are many areas of study I am interested in. When it comes to wars though I only have two favorites, The Civil War and right in front of that in the number one spot goes to: The Revolutionary War. A while back I read David McCullough’s riveting book, 1776, and it made my attraction to this historic period grow by leaps and bounds. To realize the day-to-day, scratch that, hour-by-hour struggle of the soldier’s and those who led them are real. You know the real places they were, how awful the weather was, how inappropriately prepared they were in terms of clothing and weapons. To me, it’s a wonder that it happened at all.
I know when talking about wars it is unconventional to have a “favorite”. I realize the enormous sacrifice war brings and do not mean to trivialize it. Actually I think it’s quite the opposite. I am wowed that this happened and visiting the locations I can takes my breath away. These historic sites sit right the in heart of our current days, many going unnoticed as we scurry about our day. But it is these types of sights that need our attention and respect. We need to take time, if only for a moment, to imagine what it took from those we never knew to have the society we have today. Many of those who did the fighting never saw the end result. They never truly knew what they were fighting for. But they were fighting for us, to have freedoms to which we enjoy on such a deep level we can then live our lives worrying about superficial things. It is in a similar vein to the message I tried to convey after I went on a walking tour in New York City to learn where the historic spots are here where the fight to end slavery took place (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2014/05/for-tracing-footsteps-of-new-york-citys.html).
The more I learn about The Battle of Brooklyn and thus The Revolutionary War the more I am intrigued. I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in anyone’s shoes. I first became interested in this battle probably around the first time I went to Greenwood Cemetery. Over the last year or two I have become fond of Greenwood Cemetery and learned so much about its role in my city’s history. On The Battle of Brooklyn tour there I walked in my hero’s shoes and got a feel for how far they had come. It was let by Barnet Schecter a leading expert in the field. If you get a chance this is definitely something to take part in. This August will mark the 239th anniversary if my math is correct.
It was then around 2012 when all of the stars aligned and I realized the next place I had to go to see the Old Stone House. It makes sense that it then appeared for the first time on one of my to do lists in 2012 (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/09/for-re-enacting-revolutionary-times.html). That even surprised me. I can’t believe I had waited so long.
But this brunch on this beautiful spring day made my trip to the park all the more enjoyable. I was in the process of doing what I love, what I am meant to do and that is the best feeling in the world.
Washington Park was booming with sounds of the many children who were out with their families taking advantage of the weather. This park has so many play sets to climb on, swings, and sprinklers there was something for everybody.
I walked down to the house and when I approached there were a pair of boys who informed me that they were attending a birthday party, right there on the second floor of the Old Stone House. This gave me a good suggestion for when my birthday rolls around again in December.
The House had a few semi-impressive exhibits that explained the confusing events of that battle. There were mostly storyboards on the wall and one very miniature detailed version of the battle encased in clear display case. I liked the soldiers uniform the best and it looked good in my photograph. Overall I was in and out in a matter of minutes, fifteen tops. That includes learning about the birthday party upstairs. Here it is more about the quality of the space than the quantity. I was just so happy to be on the ground where American troops battled the British led by General George Washington. As the British gained ground-surrounding Brooklyn on all sides it was ordered that they retreat to Manhattan by boat. But first they would have to march to Brooklyn Heights (where Greenwood Cemetery lays) to save themselves. Approximately four hundred British soldiers died compared to the one thousand lost Americans. That distance is so incredible to me now. I can’t imagine what it was like to do that dealing with the heat and rain. It’s simply remarkable that one little stone house came to mean so much.
SPOILER ALERT- we lost the battle by thankfully not the war or we’d all have British accents today.
Sadly this Old Stone House is not the original, which dates back to 1897. This current version is a replica constructed in 1933. At that time half of the house was underground. Original materials were used when available and there were restoration projects both in the 1970’s and 1990’s.
For me this Spring/Summer season has been all about Park Slope and the treasure I didn’t know where there. It is one thing to have a name of a restaurant or historic site on your 2015 to do list (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/03/for-year-5-2015-2016-to-do-list.html) but it’s not real until you experience it for yourself. Whether the results are good or not it’s important you get out there and find out for yourself. It makes me feel alive when I do. I live for days like this when I am removed from my daily life and can absorb myself into the day’s experiences. That is what happens to me. It is a spiritual transcendence and I never had to leave my borough. I am aware how few people know what makes them happy so I am grateful when I participate in the things that do it for me. Sometimes it really just is the little things in life.
For a final factoid about the Old Stone House, as I was researching the subject I found out that the history here is famous for another outstanding contribution to the world. I am talking about the Brooklyn Dodgers people! Prior to that name and moving to Ebbets Field they were called the Brooklyn Superbas. My UF is going to be thrilled to know that.
It is for all of these reasons that the Old Stone House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, sound familiar? That was also the year I found out about its existence and importance. Talk about meant to be.
It makes me even prouder to be an American especially from Brooklyn, New York.
For more information on the Old Stone House:
For more information on The Battle of Brooklyn:
For more information on Greenwood Cemetery: