According to Schenck family tradition, Jan Martense Schenck, the man who built this house, arrived in New Netherland in 1650. He is first documented in Flatlands in 1660. On December 29, 1675, he purchased the land on which he built the house, along with a half interest in a nearby gristmill. The house was probably in place by 1675.
The Schenck family owned the house for three generations, finally selling it in 1784. Beginning in the 1920s, as real-estate development increased, a number of preservation plans that might have maintained the house on site were put forward but were never realized. Finally in 1952, the Brooklyn Museum made a commitment to save the house, dismantled it, and stored it for about ten years until plans to install it in the Museum were finalized. The house was opened to the public in 1964.