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New look for Old Stone: Historic house opens permanent Battle of Brooklyn display • Brooklyn Paper

New look for Old Stone: Historic house opens permanent Battle of Brooklyn display

Blast from the past: Old Stone House’s new Battle of Brooklyn permanent exhibit is aimed at history geeks of all ages — including this tot trying out an ancient cannon.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It’s a revolutionary exhibit!

Park Slope’s Old Stone House is taking a 21st-century look at an 18th-century battle with its brand new exhibit, “Witness to War,” opening on Aug. 26. The interactive exhibit, now a permanent part of the historical home, uses animated wall maps and digital displays to examine the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776 and life in the borough during the British occupation. The new mini-museum is perfect for guests of all knowledge levels, according to its organizer.

“We wanted to create something that is family-friendly, but also sophisticated and engaging enough for people who are real battle aficionados,’’ said Kim Maier, executive director of the Old Stone House.

The exhibit — which took five years and $350,000 to create — features 10 areas where guests can explore Brooklyn’s place in the Revolutionary War through games, digital displays, and artwork.

Three historians helped to transform the House — a reconstruction of the 1699 Vechte-Cortelyou abode — into an interactive walk-through of family life during the British occupation. It boasts a mural of the Gowanus Marsh, which the family would have seen outside their front door, and a discussion of their life during the war. Other sections feature an interactive display of the big battle and a strategy game called “Take the Hill,” in which players can try to one-up George Washington and gain control of the land.

The exhibit is full of surprising tidbits, including Brooklyn’s history as an agriculture hub and a slave settlement. Few people know that one in three Brooklynites was in chains during the Revolutionary War, said Maier.

Survey of the past: Guests can use this animated map to read up on the Revolutionary Era and the British occupation of New York.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“I think that people will definitely be surprised to learn about the idea of Brooklyn as a farming community and how prominent slavery was,” she said.

There are no actual artifacts from the Revolutionary era in the house, but its animated wall map, oral histories, and digital displays will give guests a real taste of the 1700s — as will the House’s old-school diorama, which remains on display.

Maier said she cannot wait for guests to finally take in the new display and its old history.

“We’ve been working on this for a number of years, it’s very exciting to finally open it,” she said.

Witness to War at Old Stone House [336 Third St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, www.theoldstonehouse.org, (718) 768–3195]. Open Fri, 3–6 pm; Sat–Sun, 11 am–4 pm, starting Aug. 26.

Making history: Old Stone House’s executive director Kim Maier hopes that the exhibit will help open people’s eyes to Revolutionary-era Brooklyn.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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