During the Revolutionary War, Augustus Van Cortlandt, city clerk, hid the most valuable of the city’s records in the family burial vault northeast of the house, where they remained for the duration. The Cortlandt family were prominent members of society and resided in the Bronx. Augustus father, Frederick, built the Van Cortlandt mansion which housed George Washington in October of 1776 as he pulled his forces back from the lost city of Manhattan. Washington spent a few nights at Van Cortlandt House on his way to fight the hopeless Battle of White Plains. Lafayette and Rochambeau also stayed in the house during the Revolutionary War. Seven years later, in November 1783, Washington again slept there on the eve of his triumphal return to New York as victor. The records remained hidden from the British and were restored to the city after independence was won.
Augustus’ descendants lived in the house until the 1880s when the house, along with some Bison, were willed to the city of New York. The home is now a museum and an important part of Revolutionary War and Bronx history. It is also the oldest standing house in The Bronx.