Rufus King (1755-1827) was a lawyer, statesman and gentleman farmer who served as a member both of the Confederation Congress in 1784 and the subsequent Constitutional Convention in 1787. He later served in a U.S. Senator from New York and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1816 (losing to James Monroe). Throughout his career, King was an outspoken opponent of slavery.
King purchased this farmhouse and the surrounding 90-acre farm in 1805 (the exact origins of the house are uncertain). In addition to planting fields and orchards, King made significant additions to the house and gradually accumulated surrounding parcels of land. Following King's death, his descendants continued to live in the house until 1896, gradually selling off the estate until only eleven acres remained. The house was purchased by the Village of Jamaica and came under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department in 1898 when the village became part of the City of New York. The house became a museum in 1900 with the surrounding land becoming a model neighborhood park.