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Decker Farm

decker3Decker FarmhouseDecker Farm is located at 435 Richmond Hill Road in New Springville. It comprises approximately 11 structures on 11 acres of land. Major structures include the farmhouse, large barn, small barn, and drive shed. Smaller outbuildings include a privy, chicken coop, smokehouse, and others. Most are on their original sites, but the smokehouse was moved to this property from another location in the 1960s.

Decker Farm (ca. 1810) remains New York City's oldest continuously working family style farm. The first known residents on the property were Japhet Alston (1774-1842) and his wife Sara Decker Alston. Among their 12 children was Sarah who continued to reside in the house with her husband John M. Decker, from about 1832. In 1841, Japhet sold the farm to Lorenzo Dow Decker for $1250. Tax assessments suggest that L.D. Decker made substantial improvements to the farm in the decade of his occupation. It passed to his widow, Mahala Ann Decker, who continued to keep the farm active.

Census records show that in 1855, she had 2 acres of meadow, 2 acres of winter wheat, 3 acres of corn, 1 acre of potatoes, 6,000 heads of cabbage, and a small number of livestock. After Mahala remarried, her son, Caleb Van Name Decker, was owner of the farm from 1858 to 1873. Sylvanus Decker (1825-1909), a cousin of Caleb, purchased the farm in 1873, and it was during his ownership that most of the structures on the property were built. The last Decker family residents at the farm were Sylvanus' children, Richard, Robert, and Alberta. Alberta Decker bequeathed the farm to the Staten Island Historical Society in 1955 for use as a museum farm. 

The entire farm property was designated an official New York City landmark in 1967. In 2003, the Staten Island Historical Society guaranteed the farm’s continued preservation through the sale of a conservation and preservation easement to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The Society has collaborated with new American farmers and supporting agencies to keep the land cultivated in recent years, as well as offering educational and public programming to the farm’s many annual visitors.

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