NEWSLETTER, November 2005, Part 2
Saturday, October 15 HVVA held a brief meeting at the Mabee Farm Museum in Roterdam Junction, Schenectady County. The Holland Society was also holding their annual meeting, there was a good attendance and John Stevens was able to present his newly published book. Shirley Dunn, author and first president of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society, gave a slide talk on early Dutch house/barns in the reconstructed Dutch barn at the Mabee Farm, a building that lends itself well to large public events held on the threshing floor with the side aisles containing interpretive displays of the history, agriculture, crafts and early architecture of this Lower Mohawk Valley region. In her slide talk, Shirley suggested that many of the 16th and 17th century rural house/barns in Holland are end entrance and that this, as well as the gable fronted urban house, may have influenced the gable-entrance of many early rural Dutch houses in The Hudson Valley.
Sunday, October 16 According to secretary Amelia Anderson, 23 people attended the Annual noon meeting of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS) at the Foxenkill Tavern on the Helderberg Trail, West Bern, Albany County, NY.
Walley Wheeler submitted the final forms for The Dutch Cultural Resource Survey, and it was announced that Don Rittner will be The Survey Coordinator for Schenectady County. Each county will have a coordinator who will gather the information and enter it on the Survey's web site. President Keith Cramer explained that the farm museum group at Arnheim, The Netherlands (SHBO) want eventually to select up to 50 characteristic examples of American Dutch farms to document and publish.
In the morning the group visited four Dutch barns, one in Albany County and three in Schoharie. Two that were new to us, were the Stolzenburg Barn and the Sockol Dutch barn both in the Town of York, Schoharie County. Also some unknown scenic landscape in the Helderberg Mountains.
The Sockol Dutch Barn, Town of York, Schoharie County, NY
The 2006 New World Dutch Barn Calendar is available; twelve color photographs by Geoffrey Gross published by the Dutch Barn Preservation Society available from: HVVA, Box 202, West Hurley, NY 12491 for $12.00, postage included; a good Christmas gift.
The Nilsen Barn, Mabee Farm Museum Rotterdam Junction, Schenectady County, NY photograph by Geoffrey Gross
Thursday, October 20 I met with Margaret Gaertner and the architect Stephen Tilly at the Odell Inn in Irvington, Westchester County (*).This small stone house, believed to have been built as early as 1693, has a 1746 stone addition. It has been preserved as a gate house on a large 19th century estate.
The house is difficult to interpret because the exterior stone work is hidden behind a flat stucco and in the interior the beams are hidden behind plaster. The design of the cellar is new to me. The large, 10'3" x 6' mass of stone that appears to be a hearth support does not conform to the size of the present circa 7-foot wide fireplace above and what are they doing on a side wall. Some doors and frames for doors and windows show careful restoration and repair. A small relocated corner cupboard whose glazed doors form a shape some call a tombstone, has foliated H-hinges, and is early or mid 18 th century. Woodwork is hard to judge because of the many layers of paint.
This stone house was documented in 1975 by John Zukowsky from The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. 16 excellent measured drawings, photographs and history are available on-line from The Library of Congress, Historic American Building Survey (HABS)
We next drove to Hartsdale, Town of Greenberg, Westchester County, to see the Odell/Rochambeau House. Where Margaret and Stephen are planning a new shingle roof for the house. We were given a tour of the building by Robert Stackpole who has taken an interest in the preservation of this house since the 1950's. In 1965 it was acquired with a few acres by The Sons of The American Revolution, of which Robert is the president, to preserve as a museum. Despite the fact that Odell and his predecessors were English, it should be noted that the Odells were members of the local Dutch Reformed church where sermons were given in the mother tongue until 1800.
The original one room frame house is thought to have been built by a Tompkins in 1732, a wood frame addition was made and the house sold by a Bates in about 1765 to Odell who added to and changed the roof line in about 1785-1790 and eventually made it into a two-room center hall house. A stone extension was added in about 1854. Neither addition has a cellar.
The original 1732 house has a Dutch H-bent frame and an English jambed fireplace. The three internal beams are of the same dimension. They were originally exposed with rough-hewn surfaces. The addition is also a wood frame construction. The walls are in-filled with riven lath held between the posts with nailed strips. The wood is hacked to hold the mud and straw on which a finished coat of plaster was applied.
Cellar of The Odell Inn Irvington, Westchester County, NY
The six internal cellar beams of this very small house are circa 6-inch diameter logs flattened on one side and spaced 2.5 — feet on center. Are they original? If so, they would be easy to date with Dendrochronology.
Odell/Rochambeau House Greenberg, Westchester County,
The ceiling beams in the addition were also originally exposed and unpainted but the surfaces of the beams are finished smooth and the corners chamfered. The house is in an open condition that is ideal for study. All later fabric removed, structure and construction details exposed. It is filled with artifacts, tools, boxes of fragments of bottles and jugs, piles of horse shoes and jumbles of wrought iron, but its best artifact is Robert Stackpole and his knowledge of its history both in the written record and in the memories of the elderly Odells he knew.
During the American Revolution, French troops under General Rochambeau were stationed at the Odell/Rochambeau farm and some are buried there, close to the house. The late architectural historian, Dan Hopping took an interest in the building but was unable to document it while the Odells were living there. HWA plans to return.
At 7PM I gave a slide talk on Dutch architecture with John Stevens at Millbrook, Dutchess County, for the Town of Washington Historical Society. It was well attended and there was interest in the Barn Restoration Workshop being planned for May 2006 at the Palatine Farmstead Museum in Rhinebeck.
There is a new book out that covers rural life in this area of the Hudson Valley, 1880-1920. It is a well produced book using the early glass negative photographs of Sidney S. Benham (1870-1944) and written by his son, Stanley H Benham, Sr. (1902-1991), everything from planting potatoes to hunting coon. 8" x 11", 254 pages, soft cover, $25.00. For information contact Stanley Benham, Jr. at 147 Oak Summit Road, Millbrook, NY 12545; or visit your local Meritt Book Store,
(*) Stephan Tilly has an office in Dobbs Ferry.
Copyright © 2006. Hudson Valley Vernacular Architecture. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.