Eye On Real Estate
By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hessian officers scratched their names on his window panes.
During the Revolutionary War, officers from the invading army and their servants lived in the house that belongs now to Stuart Mont. Soldiers pitched their tents outside in the fields.
Back then, his white-shingle home at 1669 E. 22nd St., in what is now the Madison section of Brooklyn, was a farmhouse.
The window glass on which Captain Toepfer's and Lieutenant M. Bach's names are etched has been preserved and framed, evidence that ties the Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead to early American history.
What does it feel like being a steward of this extraordinary city landmark, which was built around 1766?
“It's like owning the Brooklyn Bridge,” Mont told Eye on Real Estate.
The house is full of intriguing artifacts and antiques he and his late wife, Annette, who passed away last summer, purchased along with the house. They run the gamut from Revolutionary War swords and a drum used in the War of 1812 to a fainting couch and very, very old andirons.
The couple bought the home for $160,000 in 1983 from the estate of Gertrude Ryder Bennett, city Finance Department records indicate.
By the way, Mont is the only homeowner in Brooklyn with a barn on his lawn. An actual barn, where horses were stabled until the 1930s.
The Bennett family, who lived in the house in the early 20th Century, wasn't big on modernization — there was no running water or electricity in the house until the 1930s, Mont said.
Prior to purchasing the Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead, the Monts lived in rented homes — including Dutch Colonial landmark Stoothoff-Baxter-Kouwenhoven House, which now belongs to Ken Friedlander. See related story.
“I had never wanted to own a house. I didn't want any responsibilities,” Mont explained.
But Annette had been in love with the Wyckoff-Bennett Homestead since she attended nearby James Madison High School as a teenager. When a close friend told her the house was for sale after Ryder Bennett died, it was Annette's idea to make the buy.
Her husband gave up his opposition to home ownership after reading of Ryder Bennett's concerns about what would become of the landmark that had belonged to her family for so long.
Now, three decades later, Mont has an unusual home-ownership situation on his hands.
A deal to sell the house to the city and have him and his late wife be the property's live-in caretakers fell through in 2009.
To prepare for the sale, the house was rezoned into a park. There was no transaction — but even so, the property remains a park on zoning maps, he said. And the city can't change it back, his lawyer informed him.
Mont plans, eventually, to approach the new mayor about having the city buy the historic home after all.
“I'm waiting for de Blasio to settle in,” said Mont. “I will bring up the topic again.”