NEWSLETTER, January 2005
FROM THE JOURNAL, Part Two
We drove west to the town of LaGrange and near the bank of Jackson Creek, stopped to take pictures of the _/_(Dut-LG-3) Dutch barn with low side-walls and painted white. Its white post and plank fencing is typical of the large horse farms of Dutchess and Columbia Counties. These wooden fences are being replaced with ones of plastic. Driving southeast we re-joined the Sprout Creek and visited the Sprout Creek Farm On Route 21. We sampled their prize winning cheeses and took home samples. We saw a number of 4-room center hall houses in these rich flat lands that had been expanded to 6-room center-hall houses. We came to East Fishkill and a complex house of decorative brick and stone with a gambrel roof, the 1768 Verplank/Van Wyck house (Dut-EF-10), that Reynolds called "one of the most delightful survivals of the 18th century now left in Dutchess." It is on a mill site established by the Verplank family in 1722 and occupied by descendants when Reynolds knew it in the 1920's.
Saturday, January 8. Despite fog and freezing rain, seven members of HVVA (*) met at the Graham/Brush House (Dut-PP-5) in the Town of Pine Plaines, in northeastern Dutchess County, close to the Connecticut line. It is an area that was first surveyed and settled in the 1740's. We would visit two sites associated with its early history. We would drive a few miles north onto the Town of Gallatin, Columbia County, and visit a site, the Ding/Silvernail barn (Col-Gal-2), important in the early history of the Livingston Manor.
The Graham house is a log cabin built in two sections, the earliest, one room 5 bay house, without a cellar, is thought to have been built by Loes Graham when he inherited his share of the Little Nine Partners land in 1774, but there is a question as to the original one-room house being built perhaps earlier. It will eventually be dendro dated.
The second section raised the side walls three new logs, added a cellar, a narrow hall and another log room on the right with 5-bays, making it a classic 2-room center hall house but in the Graham case there was evidently no fireplace in this room to the east until the early 19th century. Perhaps it was used for storage. It is more certain that the alterations and enlargements were made when Loes Graham fled his home in Morisania, Queens, in 1776, when the British invaded Long Island. Loes Graham was active with the military in what was then called "a civil war." Graham, like Livingston, was from Scotland.
The Loes Graham house is undergoing restoration by Bob Hedges and John Coppell who are uncovering interesting information about this rare frontier building so remarkably well preserved despite a fire five years ago that destroyed some loft flooring and roofing. It is a restoration project that has a flexible independent plan. As the building is explored and documented and recent surfaces removed, the priorities and plans for its preservation become clearer to Bob and John and to the Little Nine Partners Historical Society.
We next drove a few miles to the 1772 Morris Graham stone house with gambrel roof (Dut-PP-7). Helen Reynolds wrote about this building in her little known and never republished book of 1931, Dutchess County Doorways, and other Examples of period work in wood 1730-1830. She tells the history of the Graham family, who came up from Westchester County. She dated the house by a date stone in the chimney. She said that the house had been, "long unoccupied." Her observation about gambrel roofs was that they are seldom placed on stone houses; they were originally placed on brick houses; and later on framed houses.
The Morris Brush House is thought by some to be the first built in Pine Plains. The house has been abandoned for many years but recently was given a metal roof. The present owner would not allow us to enter the building as much of the interior wood structure and flooring is badly water damaged and weak. From examining it about five years ago, it is known to have a corner fireplace, a feature not often associated with Dutch houses. The gambrel roof form was probably introduced into the Hudson Valley from New England and became very stylish here in the 1760's and 1770's. It made the lofts more usable but the motivation for the gambrel was probably more one of style. The Dutch framing of the gambrel is more practical, allowing for a loft floor free of posts. It would be interesting to know the roof structure in the Morris Brush house.
We next drove north, a short way, to the Town of Gallatin in Columbia County to the Ding/Silvernail farm (Col-Gal-2) on the Roll of Janson Kill. This was at the southeast corner of the large Livingston Patent granted in 1683 that included most of Columbia County above, what is known today as, the Rojan Kill. One of the problems in these early years, and especially on lands where the owners like Livingston wished to have tenant farmers rather than sell the farms, was to get the land occupied and especially the eastern boundaries where there was danger of the Hudson Valley Land Lords loosing their unoccupied land to the land hungry New England Yankees.
Ding was a 1710 Palatine German immigrant who was lured to this frontier wilderness when Livingston offered to sell him a farm and by 1730 Ding was here farming. It is said he got along well with the Indians, but when surrounding farms were being leased, the surveyors found discrepancies in the Ding claims, particularly to the mill site, so the Dings sold their farm back to Livingston and moved to Pennsylvania. In 1825 Livingston deeded the farm to Silvernail.
Minutes of the January 15, 2005 HVVA Meeting at the Marbletown Firehouse.
Eleven members were present, Jim Decker, Conrad Fingado, Robert Hedges, Maggie MacDowell, Karen & Ron Markisenis, Alvin Sheffer, Peter Sinclair, John Stevens, Dennis Tierney, and George Van Sickle.
Total membership is now at about 240.
Topics discussed included important out of print books that might be republished, the need for more contributions and assistance to the newsletter, the possibility of creating membership categories and the need for long term goals.
These will be further discussed at the February 28th meeting at the firehouse.
Meetings are open to all members and friends.
John Stevens' coming book, Dutch Vernacular Architecture in North America. 1640-1830, being published by HVVA, is being assembled for printing and it is hoped will be out by April.
Plans for the Spring Barn Repair Workshop at the Palatine Farmstead in Rhinebeck are still being worked out. HVVA pledged $1000.00 toward the present budget of $4300.00 and contributions will be solicited soon. The workshop will be limited to ten interns, two have already expressed interest.
The HVVA Website, and our work with The Dutch Barn Preservation Society has been very successful. Joint plans are underway for an ambitious coordinated 4-year program to register and document the rural vernacular architecture within the New World Dutch cultural area. More later.
Treasurer's report for 2004
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