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HVVA NEWSLETTER, October 2002
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THE JOURNAL

Saturday, August 24,2002

About ten people met at the Arsenal in Huntington, Suffolk County, Long Island for a tour of seven colonial buildings arranged by John Stevens. Reginald H. Metcalf Jr. conducted the tour of the three buildings in Huntington. The Arsenal, a small frame structure was built originally in about 1740 and added to in 1748 and again in circa 1760. It presently serves as the headquarters for the Huntington Militia an active group of re-enactors who represent the military and daily life of the Revolutionary period. The Huntington Militia was first formed in 1653 by the town to provide an effective defense against the Indians and the hostile Dutch settlement of New Netherland to the west. It served in all the conflicts up until the Civil War.

The original section of the Arsenal is a small frame building that began as a one room outbuilding to store grain and was soon after enlarged with a fireplace . to serve as a very simple dwelling. It is interpreted as having a corner fireplace. During the Revolution the building was used to store munitions. Bought by the Town of Huntington in the early 1970 it was carefully studied and restored by John Stevens to its 18th century condition. Despite its location in an English settlement its original frame has a typical Dutch H-bent construction with closely spaced anchorbeams as was typical for granaries where heavy loads were to be kept in the loft. Its later additions show a more English construction with the internal beams resting on girts. It is clad with shingles as was common on Long Island.

We next visited Latting's Hundred across the street from the Arsenal. This 18th century two story Georgian frame house with a small 17th century frame addition is the home of Reginald Metcalf Jr. and his father, now in his mid 90's, who have spent many years restoring the building and doing extensive historic research on the community. Both sections of the house have corner fireplaces. The large two-story high-style 18th century house has a typical 5-room New England plan with a center chimney small entrance hall and a later gambrel roof, Richard Latting, for whom the house was originally built, came from England to Boston in 1638. In 1643 he was living in Concord Massachusetts and in 1646 moved to Fairfield in the New Haven Colony. In 1652 he came to Hempstead in search of property and became acquainted with Richard Ogden, a carpenter.

Richard Ogden and his brother John migrated from New England to New Netherland in the early 1640 s and worked as builders on Manhattan and western Long Island. They built a meeting house for Governor Kieft at New Amsterdam in 1646. Latting and Ogden acquired adjoining properties in Huntington in 1653 and it is theorized that Ogden built the first one-room section of the house for Latting soon after. Its Dutch style framing attests to Ogden's adoption of Dutch building techniques.

In 1660 Latting was forcibly banished from Huntington for political trouble making. His son Josiah remained in the house while the rest of the family moved to Oyster Bay. Richard still owned the property and attempted to make prolonged visits on the pretext of taking in the harvest but the town eventually forbade anyone from giving Richard Latting room and board for more than one week. Richard finally sold the house to his son in 1667. It is theorized that Richard Ogden is one of the builders responsible for the presence of Dutch building techniques in this English settlement in the 17th century where Dutch and English framing continued to coexist and blend for almost two centuries.

The last building visited in Huntington was Rogers Barn moved here as a museum from Lloyd Harbour a few miles away. It was built in about 1800. This large 3-bay barn, 40-foot wide, has an familiar "American" frame with drop tie beams and a side entrance. Of special interest is an original built-in horse manger, a feature that has seldom survived.

The tour group next drove a few miles west to Rosalyn in Nassau County where we visited the Van Nostrand/Starkins House that was begun in about 1680 as a one-room frame dwelling 20-feet long by 16-feet wide with a stone end, a jambed fireplace and a cellar. Prior to the end of the 18th century the history of ownership of the house is conjecture. In 1795 the Van Norstrands sold it to Joseph Starkins a blacksmith. As early as 1714 the Van Norstrand family is recorded as living in Hempstead Harbour and North Hempstead. They were blacksmiths and turners. The house had a series of owners until 1966 when it was acquired by the Village of Roslyn. Between 1973 and 1977 the house was carefully studied and restored to its late 18th century condition. Today it is a Museum which contains period furnishings of the area and its many structural features and changes clearly interpreted for the public by color coding.

The original Van Nostrand/Starkins house had an English style frame that consisted of two bents with seven joists running longitudinally and supported by the end-wall and chimney girts. There is no evidence for wall studs in this frame except for those supporting door and window frames and it is assumed that the walls were originally built with vertical boards nailed to the sills and plates. These boards were white-washed on the interior and served as the interior finished surface. The exterior was shingled or covered with riven clapboard. The original rafters were notched for 1 by 3-inch lathe spaced on 16" centers and may have supported a thatch. There may also have been a simple lean-to off the north wall. Sometime in the mid-18th century the house underwent a major renovation. A new lean-to was constructed giving the house a salt-box roof line. The vertical boards were removed and studs installed with gains for weather-board and shingles. The stone end was removed and a new jam bed fireplace built similar but slightly smaller than the original. It may have been at this time that a 2-anda-half foot overhang with raked eve, a common feature in the area, was added on the front side. The interior walls were finished with riven lath and plaster.

In 1800 or 1810 a wing with a sawn oak frame was added to the east end of the house. Its fireplace was built against the back of the fireplace in the main room and the flue joined with it but at some later time this main room fireplace was removed and a stairs built to the loft A corner fireplace replaced it. In about 1840 the facade was remodeled in the Greek Revival style and the ceiling of the main unit was plastered hiding the beams.

Part Two


From the Editor

The November Festival at the Trumpbour Corners Farm Museum in Saugerties, Ulster County, New York has been canceled for 2002. We hope the situation will have changed and the festival will be revived in the Fall of 2003 The Museum was granted a provisional charter by the NY State Department of Education in December 2001 and granted not-for-profit status soon after but has run into problems on the local level in being accepted as a museum and in dealing with Town of Saugerties property taxes, a critical issue in establishing . this public site. (*) The issue is presently in the hands of the Town's lawyer, John J. Greco of Kingston, who refers to Trumpbour's Corners as "the alleged museum," and wrote in a letter dated July, 2002.

"As a final matter, we have been advised by the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Service that the development of the land for a museum would result in tax liability because agricultural assessment would be converted to a non-agricultural use. Trumpbour's Comer Farm Museum would be liable for payments even if it is ultimately determined that the land is eligible to receive the nonprofit organization exemption."

Greco makes the case seem impossible and perhaps dangerous with a threat. of higher taxes for the Trumpbours if they dare to open a museum on the land that the family has been farming since 1734. The inch-and-a-half thick file of papers that Eliner Trumpbour has acquired in her year long correspondence and meetings with officials to resolve the issue makes it seem more a political than a legal matter. Local governments automatically resist lowering or elimination land taxes for whatever reasons, fearing a flood of claims. The land tax laws are contradictory and unclear but this jungle must be explored along with convincing the community that Trumpbour's Corners Farm Museum should be supported because of what this 67 acre site with its 18th century stone house and 20th century barn offers.

One idea of the museum is that the land help support its activities. This summer Bill Trumpbour and his tractor cut and bailed hay on 130 acres, many of the fields rented from his neighbor David Smith. Bill was helped on the ground by another neighbor, Jeannine Rieketson, who took hay for pay to feed and bed her flock of free range chickens and herds of goats and pigs. She is a spinner and a farmer who was sorry to hear the festival was cancelled.

From this summer's hay harvest, Bill Trumpbour took out 2,000 square bales and left 100 large round bales in the fields, each round bale weighs the equivalent of 25 square ones. The Trumpbour farm is presently taxed as a working farm, a category that is legally defined as anything above 10-acres with more than $ 10,000 a year income.

Peter Sinclair, Editor

Note (*) see HVVA Newsletters:
July 2002, Vol. 4, No.5, June 2001. Vol. 3, No.4 and October 2000, Vol. 2, No. 6

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