This old house is featured in the NY Times and stands in the mid-Hudson region of New York
The old house is built like a barn. A spacious, practical and robust early Colonial house built on ax hewn oak posts and beams then turned Federal and lastly Victorian after several generations of additions and reconstructions.
The posts and beams of this old house have held together a famed farmhouse through several eras for three centuries and has gained its deserved national recognition by the New York Times and the the National Register of Historic Places. It is an old house with real value like a well cared for antique, a house built on field stone, ax hewn hardwood timbers and one inch thick hand sawed wide-plank floor boards. Originally, the house was built by Palatine (German) immigrants c. 1709 who were granted free homesteads in the Colony of New York to populate and settle the land. “ The Palatines”, we learned, “were subjected to the winter of 1708 and 1709, the harshest in 100 years. The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7 000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America.” This is a homestead one of these brave Palatine families. Today the house is fully restored in all its historical and architectural transformations and is an easy 70 minute commute by car or metro train to New York City where the original home owners first set foot in our country more than 300 years ago.
“The house was built in the mid-1750s as a one or two room dwelling,” the Times article reported, “expanded over the years and last renovated in 2008. In 2001, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Original features include one inch-thick wide-plank oak and white pine floor boards and three brick fireplaces. The oldest part of the house, which functions as a dining room, has hand-hewn oak ceiling beams, a Dutch door and a wide stone fireplace with a pot hook and a bread oven.”
In the tradition of the first pioneers who first built this farm house and the succeeding generations who expanded it — a large new modern kitchen and three bathrooms have recently been added to this old house.
“The kitchen”, the Times article continued, “has Jenn-Air appliances, granite countertops and light wood cabinets. The center hall — part of a 19th-century expansion — has patterned Victorian wallpaper and a cloth floor covering hand-painted to mimic granite. There are parlors on either side.” The patterned wallpaper in the center hall is a copy of the wall hanging (perhaps the only copy) from the estate of George Mason’s “Gunston Hall”. (George Mason was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence whose “bill of rights” of the Virginia Legislature was adopted in principle as the United States Constitution’s “Bill of Rights.” The wallpaper in this house’s center hall was printed on a field of light stone grey. The Gunston Hall wallpaper was printed on a field of pale yellow. ) Some of the wall sconces and brass add iron door hardware are original or fine reproductions as are the three chandeliers, one in the center hall, another in the Victorian living and the third at the top of second floor landing. Essentially, the house is a collection of many generations of improvements to the present day. Many of the older assets of the house are irreplaceable — the original large stone fireplace and stone baking oven in the keeping room, many of the doors, door locks, wall sconces, molding and wallpaper. No other house allows you to step in and out of different periods of American history and taste than this house. The contrast of centuries is no more evident than pairing of the house’s two kitchens side by side, old and new, the first kitchen from the 1700s (now a dining room) and the modern kitchen alongside it.
All the bedrooms in the house are upstairs although a fifth bedroom is possible on the first floor where an office is now located.
The master bedroom upstairs, the latest addition, is the largest room in the house which measures twenty feet by eighteen and includes three walk-in closets one of which may be turned into a small office or computer room. The vaulted ceiling rises eleven feet and is visibly supported by two twenty-two feet long oak ceiling beams connected to posts within the house’s walls. Throughout, this old house are many other “sightings” of its past history and various architectural influences. The This Old House article, “American House Styles” describes many kinds of American homes from the early Colonial times to today many elements of which can be identified in this house. The center bedroom upstairs has an original built-in child’s cabinet for the storage of children’s toys where the grandparents slept and cared for their children’s children when they left for work on the farm early in the morning. The arrangement of rooms would suit well a family with children or a bed and breakfast business. Two of the upstairs bathrooms have cast-iron claw-foot enameled tubs, another throwback to an earlier period before bathroom showers. All three of the house’s bathrooms do have showers besides the tubs. It should also be noted that the enameled cast iron claw foot tubs are not plastic look-a-likes found in today’s home improvement stores. The neo-classical symmetry of the house floor plan has all the rooms connected to a center hall, downstairs and upstairs. It is possible to stand in either hall with all doors open and see into nearly every part of the house from one place. Unlike some contemporary homes no one in this house will be lost finding their way from one room to another. Another practical convenience especially for guests is the full bathroom on the first floor just off the kitchen. The New York Times provided a great slideshow of both the old and new additions in the house over its history. ( Note, too, since the Times’ article the sale price of the home is now $499,000). This once old farmhouse has undergone many transformations and today is more akin to a cottage of various architectural designs. The last and most dominant Victorian design element of this house is seen in the design of the front porch, one of the two living rooms and second floor bedrooms and bathrooms. The overall floor plan of the house remains neo-classical in design. There are more photographs of the house below, the house and property, the kitchen and dining room, the living rooms and the bedrooms and bathrooms.
Finally, no home exists in a vacuum. Only a house visit will give you a sense of place not only of the house but its local environment.
Down the street (literally) from the house is Soon’s Orchard and country store where once a month dinner is served farm style at the store. The nearby arts and crafts village of Sugarloaf, or a few miles further away the West Point Academy, for example, are just three of many local places of interest near “this old house”.