Built of fieldstone by enslaved labor, the Van Cortlandt house stands on property that was once a plantation where a thriving wheat growing and processing business ran. Frederick Van Cortlandt, son of the original plantation owner, started building the house for his family in 1748, but on his death it was passed to and completed by his son James Van Cortlandt. James served as a Colonel in the Westchester County Militia and represented Westchester County at the first Provincial Congress in 1775.
Van Cortlandt House was also temporary home to General George Washington on several occasions during the Revolutionary War. Washington first occupied Van Cortlandt House as temporary headquarters in October of 1776 and then again in late November 1783. The house was also used during the Revolutionary War by the Comte de Rochambeau and Marquis de Lafayette.
More than 100 years later, renovations and restoration revealed remnants of original 18th century chimney wall paneling and wallpapers buried beneath later circa 1840 walls. Careful analysis of the newly discovered features inspired restoration of the dining room to circa 1820 and its appearance during the ownership and occupancy of Augustus Van Cortlandt, the third owner and second son of Frederick Van Cortlandt. The decision to choose this period for the room was based on the outermost or latest layer of wall and border papers discovered in the room.
Visitors to Van Cortlandt House can experience the ambiance, stories, and collections that bring history to life.