info 09.5.07

The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead

On one side was Gysbert Ryken's place, Hans Hansen's land was on the other. Nearby was Rinnegaconck, a creek named for the native American tribe. Governor Stuyvesant made a patent of land to Abraham Ryken and he built on it in the 1650s. It was a one-room, timber and fieldstone home. And now the Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead, located in Jackson Heights, is the oldest dwelling in New York City—and it has a claim on being the old private home in the country.

Amazingly, it has had only three owners: the Riker-Lent family (Riker and Ryken were both used), William Gooth, and the Smiths, who bought this historical gem in 1975. Michael and Marion Duckworth Smith began restoring the property in 1980.

Unless you're friends with the Smiths, you can't normally visit. But on Sunday, September 16, from 3-5pm, the Queens Historical Society is sponsoring a tour. You'll get to see the house, the Riker Family graveyard in the rear, which contains 132 marked graves, as well as the gardens. Reservation info is here.
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On Bubbly
I thought your criticism of Eric's champagne article was on point, for the everyday (at home) consumer. But, as a professional restaurant server in New York for 30 years, I have to say it was a breath of fresh air. Guests came in with a little knowledge and enthusiasm about sparkling wines. In the U.S., we're not in the habit of starting a meal with champagne or sparkling wine, although they are the perfect aperitif, and a common starter in Europe. Eric Asimov's article got people thinking about a glass of champagne, cremant, or prosecco to begin their dinner, and enjoyed the match-up with their appetizers. Just thought I'd let you know there was an upside to the article.

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I love it because it led me to this. Awesome!

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