Queens, New York – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Queens & Manhattan) and Joseph Crowley (D-Queens & the Bronx) announced today [Oct. 31, 2006] that the National Parks Service will be conducting a reconnaissance study to determine whether the Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead in Queens, New York City’s oldest house still being used as a home, may be eligible for favorable consideration as part of the National Park System. This preliminary reconnaissance study is the first of three steps in the process to include a new unit in the National Park System.
If the results from the Park Service’s preliminary study are positive, Reps. Maloney and Crowley will initiate the second step by introducing federal legislation to authorize a detailed study of the 350-year-old farm house and property. Once that detailed study is completed, Maloney and Crowley will then begin the third and final step by introducing an Act of Congress that would include the Homestead in the Park System.
Rep. Crowley said, “The Lent Riker Smith Homestead is a great historical treasure that helps trace back the multi-ethnic foundation of Queens and the United States. It was built before the birth of our nation, when so many people who had migrated to these shores in search of a new life were settling in this area. Almost four centuries later, this home remains emblematic of the founding of our nation by immigrants, whose legacy is still celebrated in Queens’ rich cultural and ethnic diversity. This house also has a great significance for Irish Americans, who remain an important part of the borough’s ethnic fabric, as a few early prominent Irish settlers are buried in the property’s cemetery. Preserving the Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead would ensure that this magnificent historic link to our remarkable past will remain for future generations.”
The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead was built around 1655 by Dutch immigrant Abraham Riker, a member of the prominent family that owned property throughout the New York region and for whom Rikers Island is named. The one-acre property includes a cemetery with 132 marked graves.
Among the individuals buried on the cemetery property are Ann Tone, wife of Wolfe Tone, the leader of the 1848 Irish revolt, and exiled Irish Catholic patriot, Dr. William J. MacNeven, who married into the Riker family. Also interred on the site is another Abraham Riker, who was killed at Valley Forge in 1778. Current owners of the house and property are husband and wife Michael and Marion Smith, who have worked to restore the site over the last 25 years.
For more information on the study process and criteria applied by the National Park Service in evaluating new park proposals, see http://www.nps.gov/legacy/criteria.html
The above is from a press release on Congressman Joseph Crowley’s web site at http://crowley.house.gov/news/record.asp?id=906 with the following headline, contact, and date information:Reps. Crowley, Maloney Champion Preservation of Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead 10/31/2006 press release Contact: (202) 225-3965
For a virtual tour of the homestead via NYCHS images, visit our presentation of excerpts from The Rikers: Their Island, Homes, Cemetery and Early Genealogy in Queens County, NY by an 11th generation Abraham Rijcken vanLent descendant, Edgar Alan Nutt.
To The Rikers: Their Island, Homes, Cemetery and Early Genealogy in Queens County, NY
To NY Correction History Society home page