Valentine House – The Second Oldest House in the Bronx

46

Isaac Valentine, a blacksmith and farmer from Westchester County, constructed one of the Bronx’s oldest houses – now one of its most distinctive homes – in 1758. Its symmetrical layout distinguishes it.

This home appears on both the Walling Map (1859) and Beers-Comstock Map (1873) as belonging to William Valentine or William M. Valentine, who operated a general merchandise business.

Built-in 1758

It was built in 1758 by a blacksmith and farmer, Isaac Valentine, using native stone from his 260-acre farm in Long Island City. It provided access to nearby crop markets in New York City as well as blacksmithing work when carts and carriages rolled past on their way toward King’s Bridge and Manhattan. Later, during the Revolutionary War, it even served as a battleground, and British and Hessian soldiers even temporarily occupied it!

Isaac Valentine fell into financial hardship following the Revolutionary War when wheat crops failed in Southeastern New York. To avoid bankruptcy, he sold his house and 260 acres to wealthy merchant Isaac Varian for just PS90 in 1792. It remained with Varian family ownership until 1905, when an attorney recognized its historical value and purchased it.

Now a historic site and museum, Valentine House stands as an exquisite example of colonial Pennsylvania German architecture. Furnished with period-specific items that depict what life would have been like for this family in their period home. Additionally, its beautiful garden welcomes visitors who wish to stroll through and appreciate its view.

The Valentine House is an exceptional example of an 18th-century house and one of America’s best-preserved structures from that era. Comprised of two stories connected by a large front porch and covered with decorative moldings and latticework, its roof boasts five fireplaces in total: two in its kitchen, another in its living room, and yet another one located within its dining room.

The Valentine House, constructed in 1758, has been a museum and has been an active part of the New York community since 1758. An excellent place for visitors to experience some of New York’s history through original fireplaces still in use and antique furnishings from that era – this museum provides an engaging introduction to New York City history while being an educational experience for kids of all ages! It’s an excellent spot for visitors of all ages looking for fun places that teach about its rich past!

During the Revolutionary War

Isaac Valentine built this two-story Georgian vernacular house from native stone sourced on his property near King’s Bridge to Manhattan, giving him access to crops and markets as well as making travel convenient. Additionally, its location made the house popular among both local families and traveling travelers alike.

Once war erupted, however, the house would become a different kind of traffic hub. The farm became the scene of frequent skirmishes between British and Hessian troops as well as American militia fighting over control of bridges and roads – often right outside their front door! – with cannon fire being exchanged. However, the Valentine family stayed behind to defend their lands from plunder and destruction since leaving would mean financial ruin for both sides.

Once the war had concluded, Isaac Valentine found himself unable to pay his debts and put the house up for sale. Mr. Varian eventually purchased it and is now considered one of the oldest houses in the Bronx; today, it serves as a home for the Bronx County Historical Society’s Museum of Bronx History.

The Valentine-Varian house is an essential component of the Museum of Bronx History, serving as an archive to record a slice of Bronx history. Here, visitors can learn about it through exhibitions, programs, guided tours, and events. Sadly, however, its current state of disrepair makes restoration impossible, though plans exist within the Historical Society to restore it in future years.

After the Revolutionary War, Jeremiah Robbins added the grand early Federal wing to his house around 1800. It is possible he inherited or purchased it; its ownership before Jeremiah’s death is unclear, but on February 14, 1814, a deed of partition was recorded that divided Valentine-Robbins lands into northern and southern halves; respectively, the north half was distributed among John and Daniel Robbins while Daniel Valentine received half.

After the Revolutionary War

Isaac Valentine, a blacksmith and farmer from Yonkers, constructed this two-story fieldstone structure using local natural resources such as pine trees for interior decorations and stone for exterior walls – it remains today as one of the two oldest residences in the Bronx.

During the Revolutionary War, Valentine-Varian House was occupied by both British and Hessian troops. Yet despite this occupation by both armies, its family refused to flee their property, which became a frequent site of military skirmishes; instead, they fought bravely to defend it, ultimately surviving both sieges by Hessian troops as well.

Once the war was over, Valentine-Varian House remained in the hands of the Varian family until 1905, when its location had become highly urbanized, and farming the land was no longer economically profitable.

The Georgian vernacular style house features a two-story house with a symmetrical design that is often called Georgian vernacular. This design allows light into each room while keeping out cold drafts; additionally, this structure boasts a central hall that leads directly into each room.

According to historian Jeremiah Robbins, Richard Valentine remarried following the death of his wife and continued living at their house until he passed away there in 1805; his grave can be found nearby.

Richard Valentine’s death remains unclear; it could have been caused by Hessian soldiers or by some other accident, such as falling trees, yet given that he was still living when he passed, it seems likely that his family was financially secure at his time of passing.

No matter the cause of his death, Valentine House played an essential part in Sevier’s family history during early American history. Members of the Sevier family participated in Watauga Compact negotiations by colonists seeking an alternative government to British control; furthermore, members participated in both Revolutionary War battles as well as fighting to establish the State of Franklin, encompassing several East Tennessee counties.

After the Civil War

Isaac Valentine had owned this house as part of his 260-acre homestead during the American Revolutionary War; its land became the site of six skirmishes between Colonial and British soldiers during this time. Unfortunately, after the war, he fell on hard times, which led creditors to seize his property; eventually, the Varian family acquired it in 1905 before finally giving it over to the Society as a museum in 1965.

In 2019, the museum started an initiative to modernize the studio where Jefferson Davis had his face measured for the Monument Avenue statue. They conducted surveys, hosted focus groups, and partnered with community partners in order to gain insight into how it should be showcased – with plans to unveil it again by 2021.

One issue being explored by museum staff and researchers is how to address the racial narratives present within both space and house. Josh Epperson, culture writer for the museum, says it’s time to move past these narratives; focus groups are being organized as part of this effort in order to help determine how best the house should communicate its history.

That includes remembering and honoring the Valentine and Jackson families who worked there; this reimagined studio will feature excerpts from letters they sent home to family in Virginia and demonstrate that enslaved people should not be seen as objects of charity; rather they were human beings with the same dignity as anyone else.

Epperson emphasizes how the newly imagined studio will address violent anti-Black sentiments prevalent after the Civil War in America. She points to Henry Page’s statue from the Valentine family. Sculpted during 1861 when slavery was still legal in America.

Frederick Douglass wrote to Virginia Governor Mark Warner pleading with him to protect his family, which included those enslaved as slaves. Additionally, he requested to receive copies of both the Declaration and the Constitution so he could study them and become an informed citizen.