Manhattan’s Oldest Single-Family House Feels Surprisingly Modern

The historic East Village home was built in 1795 by the great-great-grandson of Peter Stuyvesant, who oversaw the transformation of New Netherland to New York.

Boasting soaring ceilings and surprisingly spacious proportions, this historic gem at 44 Stuyvesant Street is indeed the oldest building in Manhattan to be used continuously as a single-family residence. The early Federal-style home was built in 1795 by Nicholas William Stuyvesant — the great-great-grandson of Peter Stuyvesant, the 17th-century Dutch colonial officer and governor of the New Amsterdam settlement that became New York City. Along with the Morris-Jumel Mansion and the Dyckman Farmhouse in Upper Manhattan, it is the only surviving residential building in Manhattan from the 18th century.

Nicholas built the home for his wife Catherine Livingston Reade, and the couple spent 23 years in the home, raising six sons and three daughters. In 1818, they moved to the nearby Bowery House, which Nicholas inherited from his father. When it was built, No. 44 was a freestanding structure at the corner of Stuyvesant and Judith streets.

Today, the five-story, 5,550-square-foot home offers five bedrooms, four full bathrooms, and one partial bath. Its 24-foot width makes it bigger than most Manhattan townhomes. Amenities include a stylish parlor floor, an enclosed back garden with stone flooring and fruit trees, eight fireplaces (non-working, but still), a modern galley-style kitchen, and a top-floor artist studio with 12.5-foot ceilings. Except for the kitchen, which would have been the hearth in what is now the formal dining room, the layout is all original.

The home also reflects early building traditions in the area, including original Flemish-bond brickwork, splayed lintels, and a brownstone basement. Other architectural details include generously sized rooms, detailed moldings, wide and tall doorways, beautiful floors, a central staircase, bathrooms with deep claw-foot tubs, and big windows that flood the rooms with bright natural light.

The East Village home was designated as part of the St. Marks Historic District on January 14, 1969. At the time, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission noted: “It is impossible to over emphasize the importance of this building — historically and architecturally. It is one of only two remaining houses of the early generations of the Stuyvesant family, and it is that family name, above all others, that represents Dutch New York.”

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