Onderdonk House

The neighborhood where I live is a hotly contested spot.  Sometimes it belongs to Queens, sometimes it belongs to Brooklyn.  As of right now, the border forms a zig-zag pattern down one street.  So when you walk down the street you can say "I'm in Brooklyn.  Now I'm in Queens!  Now I'm back in Brooklyn!" without leaving that same street.  But there's one building in Ridgewood, Queens that Brooklyn can't lay its hands on, and that's the Onderdonk House.

The land was acquired by Hendrick Barents Smidt as a grant from Peter Stuyvesant in 1661.  At that time, Stuyvesant was the Director-General of the Dutch Colony New Amsterdam.  Which, of course, was renamed New York in 1667 after a trade with the English. 

In 1709 Paulus Vander Ende purchased the land from Hendrick Barents Smidt and built the stone house that currently sits on the land, just next to the foundation of Smidt's house.  "Onderdonk House" is the shortened version of the full name, which is Vander Ende-Onderdonk House.  Smidt's name is not included because techincally, the house that currently stands, isn't the one that Smidt built.  The Onderdonk family adds their name later.  

1769 is when the border disputes between Newtown, Queens and Bushwick, Kings (Brooklyn) which resulted in the zig-zag pattern we have today.  Although the zig-zag has changed a few times over the years as the dispute rages on.  Some buildings even begin in Brooklyn and end in Queens. 

1820 saw renovations under new ownership.  Adrian Onderdonk extended the house to include the foundation of the Smidt's original structure.  The house has seen little changes since then, despite a fire in 1975 which destroyed large portions of the house.  After years of pulling together funds and getting crews to work, the house opened again to the public in 1982.

You can visit the house on Saturdays between 1 and 5pm with a suggested donation of $3.00.  A small price to pay to see New York's oldest Dutch Colonial house.  A piece of history few get to see, or even know exists.  I'm sure there are people in this neighborhood where I live who have no idea the rich history that is just down the road.  Along with tours there are all kinds of events that take place.  From live music to various holiday specials, it's a place of rich history that every New Yorker should experience.