[Architect Noel Ditmars' article in Early American Architecture, From the First Colonial Settlements to the National Period by Hugh Morrison, New York: Oxford University Press, 1952, p. 114-15.]
The Ditmars House
The Jan Ditmars House, formerly in Flatlands, was built at some time before 1700, though the exact date is not certainly known. If the gambrel roof shown (Fig. 96) is original it may be the earliest example in this region, but one should notice that already it has the characteristic Flemish shape. This house is deep enough to accommodate a full second story and garret under the roof, and in other respectsówide shingles, boxed overhangs, and end chimneysóit is almost a twin to the Bergen House. The Dutch never built exterior chimneys, like those in Virginia, but kept the chimneystack within the wall, covering it up, in wooden houses, with clapboards or shingles. But there was almost always a bake-oven at the back of the kitchen fireplace, protruding outside the house as a round-topped brick or stone vault. In later years most of these were demolished; undoubtedly all that remained of the bake-oven of the Ditmars House when the photograph was taken was the blanked-up opening visible on the end wall.
The earliest Dutch barns had clay floors and thatched roofs, but as time went on floors were planked in oak or hickory, and roots shingled. Until the late 1920's a huge old Dutch barn (Fig. 97) stood on the Ditmars property. It had very low sidewalls, but its tremendous width carried the gabled roof to a goodly height, as was typical of Dutch barns throughout southern New Netherlands. Peter Kalm, Swedish naturalist, made a trip through the colonies in 1748-49 and described the barns in the New Brunswick region: The barns had a peculiar kind of construction hereabouts, I will give a concise description of. The whole building was very great, so as almost to equal a small church. The roof was pretty high, covered with wooden shingles, declining on both sides, but not steep. The walls which support it were not much higher that a full-grown man; but on the other hand the breadth of the building was the more considerable. In the middle was the threshing floor, and above it, or in the loft or garret, they put the corn which was not yet threshed, the straw, or anything else, according to season. On one side were stables for the horses, and on the other side for the cows, and the smaller cattle had likewise their particular stables and sties. On both ends of the buildings were great gates, so that one could come in with a cart and horses through one of them and go out at the other. Here was therefore under one roof the threshing floor, the barn, the stables, the hayloft, the coach house, etc. This kind of building is chiefly used by the Dutch and Germans.
At one end of the Ditmars barn was a 'hovel', a shed with an open front for pigs and for storing farm implements. Wertenbaker has traced this Dutch type of barn to the combined house and barn of the peasants of Lower Saxony; it is found in modified form all over central and southern Holland. Even the Flemish farmers seem to have preferred it to their native type, for they brought it with them from Holland to the banks of the Hudson and Raritan.
[The Encyclopedia of New York City, p. 335]
Ditmarsen, Jan Jansen van (b. Ditmarsen, Scheswig-Holstein, fl ca 1647). Farmer. In 1647 he settled at Dutch Kills in what is now Long Island City. His descendants included Johannes Ditmarse, town supervisor in Flatbush; Henry Suydam Ditmas, president of Erasmus Hall High School and a resident in what is now Ditmas Park; John Ditmas, a founder of the Flatbush Trust Company; and the genealogist and historian Charles A. Ditmas, founder of the Kings County Historical Society and president of the Brooklyn Sunday School Union.
Ditmars. Neighborhood in northwestern Queens (1990 pop. 188,549), lying within Astoria and bounded to the north by Bowery Bay, to the east by La Guardia Airport, to the south by 23rd Avenue, and to the west by the East River. Older residents refer to the neighborhood as Steinway, after the piano maker Steinway and Sons, which bought a track of four hundred acres along the northwestern shore of Queens between 1870 and 1873 and during the next decade built a spacious factory and a town with a church, a library, a kindergarten, and a public trolley line. Unlike other factory towns Steinway was not exclusively for workers: the firm treated it as a real-estate investment, selling land and houses to the highest bidder, and eventually employees counted for fewer than one third of the inhabitants. Nevertheless the town set its clocks by the factory whistle. After the Interborough Rapid Transit line was extended to Ditmars Avenue in 1917 the area attracted many people who worked in Manhattan, as well as newlyweds (mostly Italians and Greeks) seeking their own apartments. Much of the main street, Astoria Boulevard, was destroyed to make way for the Grand Central Parkway, which provided an approach to the Triborough Bridge (1936).
Many Greeks moved to the area after the Second World War, and by the 1980s they made up th4e largest Greek community outside Athens. As automobile travel became more common the Steinway factory lost its connection to the surrounding community: most of the workers moved farther out on Long Island.
Ditmas Park. Neighborhood in west central Brooklyn (1990 pop. 12,179) , bounded to the north by Dorchester Road, to the east by Ocean Avenue, to the south by Newkirk Avenue, and to the west by East 16th Street. It was modeled after the adjacent neighborhood of Prospect Park South by Lewis Pounds, who developed it in the early twentieth century. The Ditmas Park Association was formed in 1908 and enacted special zoning provisions to preserve the character of the neighborhood, which in 1987 was designated a Historic District. Ditmas Park is a middle-class neighborhood of about 175 large, detached frame houses on tree-lined streets. Among its notable buildings are the parish house of the Flatbush Tomkins Congregational Church, the former Brown house (1000 Ocean Drive), and the Community Temple Beth Ohr (1010 Ocean Avenue).
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