Van Cortlandt House

Van Cortlandt House Museum


About East Parlor

East and Dutch Chambers

The Little Yonkers

The Herb Garden

Frederick Van Cortlandt's Family Tree

Frederick Van Cortlandt on Geni

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Referred to as East Parlor, this is by far the most formal room of the Van Cortlandt House. It’s the room that used to buzz with plenty of activity during the holidays. All the family related entertainment and festivities would happen here. The heavily carved mantelpiece in the room was created in the year 1760 and was designed and executed by a couple of anonymous carvers of New York City who are believed to have worked and apprenticed as skilled journeymen in London, UK. It is believed that this decoration was added to the room by James Van Cortlandt, the eldest son of Mr. Frederick Van Cortlandt when he got married. Regardless of the importance of occasion or the motivation behind it, its remodeling was carried out in the best possible manner and adhering to the fashion of the times.

As mentioned earlier, the room would become the hub of all the entertainment during the festivals and thus was adorned with versatile and beautiful furniture. When not being used, that tea tables and card tables in it can be folded up and easily placed against the walls, thus creating a lot of space in the center of the room, allowing for large gatherings and activities like dance.

The portrait put up on the left side of the fireplace is that of the third owner of Van Cortlandt House – Augustus Van Cortlandt who lived from year 1728 to 1823. The painting is the work of John Wesley Jarvis and it was finished in the year 1810. Augustus Van Cortland was a well-known person and had held the very important position of Common Clerk of the New York City between the years 1751 in 1783, an impressive 32 years’ tenure.

It was in his capacity as the Common Clerk that Augustus received a special request from the Provincial Congress of New York in the year 1775 to safeguard the New York City’s public records. It was by no means an easy order for him to comply as it meant working directly under the English government of the time. Augustus initially hid the records inside a cellar located under his residence’s garden, nearby 11 Broadway, but later shifted all the records to his family’s plantation, and thereafter all of them were owned by his brother James Van Cortlandt.

In order to make all these moves less suspicious, he would take a trip to the Lower Yonkers Plantation (Van Cortlandt House) of his brother, making an excuse that he needed to visit his infirm and elderly mother. He hid all the records inside the burial vault created as per the will of his late father Frederick Van Cortlandt. All the New York City’s records stayed secure at the Plantation until the year 1784 when Augustus Van Cortland was asked to produce them to the New York City and County’s newly appointed clerk.