An Education Field Trip through Brooklyn’s Rich History: Part 1

Despite being New York’s most populous borough, Brooklyn’s rich history and fascinating historical landmarks are often overlooked when compared to those associated with Brooklyn’s more famous neighbor, Manhattan. However, Brooklyn boasts a range of historical sites and experiences that rival that of any major East Coast city. Educational field trips through Brooklyn are a great way for history-loving students to dive deeper into the rich history within their communities and provide a wonderful opportunity for all who are curious to uncover more about our shared past. 

The Old Stone House, Park Slope

On busy 5th Avenue in Park Slope, diners, cafe-goers, and shoppers may be surprised to find an important piece of American history in the J.J. Byrne Playground at Washington Park. The Old Stone House is a replica of the original structure, built by the Dutch Vechte family in 1699, about 35 years after the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam was transferred to the British and became New York. The Vechtes farmed on the land surrounding the house and harvested oysters from the nearby Gowanus Creek (which now famously polluted). During the American Revolutionary War, the house was an important site during the Battle of Brooklyn, which would be the largest battle in the entire struggle for American independence. The legendary Maryland 400 made their final stand in a series of attacks on the British-held Old Stone House in a maneuver designed to cover General George Washington and the retreating American army. The battle earned the state of Maryland the nickname the “Old Line State” and the 256 fallen Maryland soldiers were buried in a mass grave in the vicinity of the house. In the following century, the Old Stone House became the clubhouse for the Brooklyn Superbas baseball team, who would later be named the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

You can visit the Old Stone House in Park Slope and learn more about its unique history on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Noon-4 pm. 

Weeksville Heritage Center, Crown Heights

Weeksville was one of the first free Black communities in the entire United States. It is also one of last surviving examples of a pre-Civil War African American settlement. Founded in 1838 by James Weeks, a free African American, Weeksville was a self-sustaining community that thrived during a tumultuous period of American history. At a time when slavery still cast its dark shadow, Weeksville emerged as a refuge for those seeking freedom and equality. The community grew and prospered, eventually becoming a safe haven for African Americans who had escaped enslavement. The Weeksville Heritage Center stands on the very grounds where the historic community once flourished. Today, it serves as a cultural institution dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of Weeksville. Visitors can explore the Hunterfly Road Houses, a cluster of historic homes that have been meticulously restored to reflect the architecture and lifestyle of 19th-century Weeksville.

You can visit the Weeksville Heritage Center in Crown Heights on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10am-5pm and Saturdays from 11am to 5pm. 

Stay tuned for a forthcoming post on more educational field trip opportunities in Brooklyn. For help in students in history courses and for students who always want to dive deeper, Gooroo can help match students with tutors who can push them to reach new heights.

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