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HVVA Newsletters

From the Journal:

Sunday, February 10, 2001 Went to see a barn complex on Granite Road, Town of Rochester _/_(Uls-Roc-12).

The original mid-19th century barn had an "English" plan, a 3-bay side entrance barn with a center-bay threshing floor. It had a partial cellar. Its square-rule timber frame is !ate New World Dutch in a number of ways. The posts have raising holes and have a rectangular section (12"x1 0"). The mortises are cut through the timbers and the bents have light (6" x 6") dropped tie-beams. The siding is horizontal weather-boarding.

Tuesday, February, 12 went with Roger, Todd and Alvin to meet with Sally light to see two excavated sites in Albany. The digs are funded by mandated provisions in the landowner's contract with the city. One of the sites is a 1630 house 16-foot long by 18 foot wide, wood frame with a brick facade and a pan-tile roof facing the river, no cellar bellow it, no roads leading to it, a trading post on the river.

Nearby in the same parking lot is a 1690 brewery, a circa 25 by 50-foot building with about 15 tall vats with drains at the bottoms. Excavations are nearing completion by Hartgen Archaeological Associates, Inc., Matthew J. Kirk M.A., project director hartgen@hartgen.com. Lastly we went to a circa 1800 two room frame house on Wire Road in Livingston with an 1840 frame addition. Hover/VanDyke/Monro (Col-liv-1). John Monro his wife and son are restoring the house to use as a rental. The interior is open and the framing exposed. They are completing the structural work on the frame using replacement and sistered beams of hemlock. The interior of the cellar of the original house measures 18' x 27.5' long. There is evidence in some surviving flush beaded exterior siding, and mortises in posts that there were additions or porches on one or both sides. The frame of the original house is a scribe-rule Dutch H-bent frame and the rafters are pinned. The addition has a later type of frame with fewer bents and many joists resting on girts and the rafters butt.

Saturday, February 24, About 10 people attended a meeting in the Marbletown firehouse. We were joined by Jim Kricker, two English timber frame carpenters, their wives and children and we all went on a tour of Marbletown sites; the Bogart and Oliver Dutch barns and then to the Rest Plaus Mill and met with Harry Hansen, architect and second generation miller at this restored 1740s Dutch framed grist. mill with an overshot wheel and two stones, the last surviving New World Dutch mill in the Hudson Valley.

Harry is at present preparing a publication on the historic houses of the adjoining Town of Rochester. Farms were established in Rochester in 1670. Over the past 10 or 15 years the town has put together the most complete inventory and documentation of its architecture of any town in Ulster County.

March 9, 2001 Attended the Conference, Understanding the Farmstead: 150 Years of Agricultural Building in the Great lakes Region. Organized by Steve Stier and held at the Kellogg Center at Michigan State University, East Lansing. The conference was held in the memory of H. Wayne Price (1922-2000), a lay scholar, author and student of the American barn, especially those of Illinois, his home state.

Floyd Mansberger spoke about the current work of organizing and preserving the boxes of papers and photographs in the large collection of documentation left by H. Wayne Price. During the day about ten speakers covered a number of topics on regional and ethnic barn types. Tom Visser from the University of Vermont spoke of early developments in New England timber framing and Alan Noble spoke of the ethnic diversity of Great Lake farmsteads. The conference was well organized and attended by about 100 people.

March 10, 2001 attended the 6th annual conference and meeting of the Michigan Barn Preservation Network held at the Kellogg Center. About 150 people attended. There were a number of tables selling and distributing written material and displays explaining barn related groups and current projects. Three sessions each had four concurrent talks and discussions focusing on barn repairs and adaptive reuses. The conference was well organized and the MBPN Process Report by president Jack Worthington shows how effective this group has been in raising public awareness and organizing and aiding projects to preserve Michigan barns.

The MBPN has 300 members and a newsletter mailing list of 1,900. The newsletter is mailed free for the first year to those requesting it. After that it is $12 for a non-members. If interested write: MBPN, PO Box 614, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858. Since 1997, MBPN has organized many public workshops on the repair of barns. A June 9-10,2001 workshop will be held at Port Oneida, Upper Peninsula, Michigan. If interested in attending contact Kimberly Mann (231) 326-5135, ext. 501. Campsites are available.

March 16-18, 2001 with Bob Hedghes attended the annual conference of the Traditional Timberframers Research and Advisory Group (TTRAG) held at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. On the way down we stopped to see two early houses in Frederick, Maryland, owned and used by the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation, Inc., a group with 250 members founded in 1972. The first house, the Beatty/Cramer house contains many Dutch features in its original construction that are mixed with some Germanic and perhaps English ideas. It has interesting Ulster County roots having been built by Susan Ashfordby Beatty who together with several other Ulster County families were the first to settle the Frederick County, Maryland, area in the 1730s. The original house was a two room frame house with a later one-room log addition and a roof raised to create a two story house from the original story and a half. It has an interesting stone spring house/summer kitchen with a Dutch jambless fireplace.

The second house visited was the Schifferstast two story stone house of about 1765 in Frederick built by Joseph Brunner, a Swiss German immigrant who came to America in the 1730s. This "Architectural Museum" is a remarkably well preserved and unique German/American house with perhaps the only in situ cast-iron 5-plate stove. Originally the 2nd story of the house had four rooms heated by two iron stoves. These were fired from a center hall and were set into the masonry in such a way as to function almost as a Kachelofen rather than jamb-stoves.

Normally the 5-plate jamb-stove is set in the back wall of a fireplace and projects into the next room. It has only a small smoke hole through the wall it is attached to and does not burn wood but is filled with hot coals. It is known as a non-ventilating stove. The 5-plate cast-iron stove in the Schifferstast house has a circa 4-inch square opening cut through the top plate and this ventilates into a masonry flue that rests on the stove top.

The next day at the Frontier Culture Museum in Virginia, in the restored 1688 farm house from the village of Hordt in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, we would see a full masonry kachelofen. Often this type of German stove was tiled and benches set against it It is a ventilating stove which, like the 5-plate, is fed from an adjoining room. Its tall masonry flue contains a series of baffels and chambers that hold the heat and the kachelofen is usually fired only twice a day in cold weather.

The TTRAG Conference was attended by about 100 people. It was well organized as usual. It brings together a wide diversity of people and interests.

The 1750 Journal of Christian Daniel Claus

Alvin Sheffer of Columbia County, vice president of HVVA and student of the large 1710 Palatine German immigration into the Hudson Valley, has brought to our attention the 1750 journal of Christian Daniel Claus, a 22-year old man from Wurtemburg, Germany. Christian visited Kingston and Rhinebeck on his way from Pennsylvania to the Mohawk Valley to meet with the Iroquois Indians. He was traveling with a party led by Conrad Weiser who was inviting the Iroquois to a conference in Pennsylvania to make peace with their southern advisory. The party was not successful in convincing the Iroquois to attend the meeting but Christian arid his friends made some interesting stops along the way that give us a picture of the inhabitants of the frontier at that time. Like the contemporary student of American culture, Christian is constantly aware of the ethnic diversity he encounters. Some observations in the Kingston area need interpretation.

Traveling north on the Old Kings Highway, present route 209, the party entered the New World Dutch zone when they stopped first in Pennsylvania at Shawnee on the Upper Delaware River at the farm of Peter DuBois and his son Samuel. (1.) The DuBois were one of the twelve French Huguenot families who had founded New Paltz in the 1680s, they were old friends of the Weiser family, Palatine Germans who had come to East Camp in 1710 and moved to the Schoharie Valley soon after. The party ate and stayed the night with the DuBois family. The next day they reached an inn in New Jersey for their mid-day meal. It was run by a "North-German innkeeper by the name of Rozencranz." They lodged that night "with Heinrich Cortrecht (Cortwright), another North-German."

The next day they arrived at the home of Stewart DePuy, a Huguenot descendant. He played them some music on his flute and invited them to a noon meal. "...when after much preparation," Christian wrote, "it appeared on the table, we saw quite strange dishes, which had been prepared in out honor. The meal consisted of bear meat and as they call it squash a kind of pumpkin of subtle consistency. We had to eat of it with hearty but forced appetite. At the end we were even urged to take in several spoonfuls of bear fat, which without dOing you any harm were supposed to be good for your health."

They continued on for about 10 miles and after an encounter with a live bear it began to get dark and they saw a fire in the woods where they found an Indian hut. Weiser smoked a bowl of tobacco with the Indians, and using their language, inquired of the way to the next house. They reached it soon after. It was the home of Emanuel Basalesh, "...whose father had been a Spaniard." Christian noted. Emanuel's mother was Dutch and Christian felt that the man combined Spanish pomposity with Dutch rudeness. "He pretended to be a tavern keeper and be so rated by the North-German appraisers but according to the service we received from him, his business should be closed for life by an act of Parliament. Sitting on his chair with that arrogant Spanish mien he could not serve us anything but dram and water. After we had taken a little of it, he showed us to our resting place on the floor where he had spread a couple of hard skins; and with all his harsh treatment we had to feed his fleas."

They left early in the morning looking for the next house to get breakfast. "Soon thereafter we came upon another so called inn keeper," he wrote, "who ordered a raccoon or a badger readied for us in a hurry, which tasted quite good. In the meantime it must have at least astonished my stomach to digest the meat of 2 animals so antipathetic to each other."

By noon they were at "Mombaccus" (Rochester) in Ulster County where they stopped and took a meal at Gerhard de Witt's place. "Taking the road to Esopus from there, we came one mile (1.) before Esopus through a place called Murmel (Marbletown) and very close to Esopus through the small settlement of Hurley, This entire day we found many houses as close as a quarter of a mile from each other, and traveling there was very pleasant." Traveling through the wilderness was evidently less so.

At "Esopus alias Kingston" Christian and his party took lodging "with a North-German by the name of Cornelius Elmendorph." The next day it rained so they took the opportunity to look around and pay a visit to "the clergyman" of the settlement, the Reverend George Wilhelmus Mancius, associate Dominie of the Dutch Reformed Church of Kingston, whose name Mancius, Christian wrote, "must have originated from the North-German region of Hesse-Nassau. But since he was not at home but in Rhinebeck on church business, we did not stop there for long but looked around a little further in the place where in short we saw and heard the following:"

"First of all to explain its name, which in English is Kingstown, in German Konigstdt and has been so called when New York came to England; Esopus, however is an Indian name and was given to the place when it became settled. (2.) It was built by the Dutch and being located on a pleasant plain was still being expanded and restored. The streets were rather evenly laid out so that the air should be healthy around there. Passing by the cemetery, I was therefore strengthened in my supposition, as I could not find a single fresh grave. I have also been told and seen for myself that most people there live to a ripe old age.

The place was not at an lacking in fertility and everything planted there grew in abundance, most of all Indian corn. About one mire from there a river called (Rondout Creek) was flowing by and two miles further the North or Hudson River was following its course. No particular edifices were in sight, and the houses were built in North-German style. As to the inhabitants. they were all Low-German, the region was Dutch-Reformed and the clergy depended on the synod in Amsterdam. The form of Government was English and so were the laws and regulations. Otherwise the habits, mores and life style were Dutch and who-ever was not willing to eat roast corn, should not expect too much."

Why does Christian write that the houses of Kingston were "built in North-German style?" We still have a lot to learn about the origins and evolution of Hudson Valley Vernacular architecture but other than their simple low form, the houses of Kingston are not that different in plan from other Hudson valley Dutch houses built before 1750. They are normally one or more rooms with end wall fireplaces or, two-rooms with a center chimney, and are extended longitudinal while the German houses of Pennsylvania have 3 to 4 rooms and center chimneys. They seem very different in plan.

Perhaps it was the use of the North-German cast iron 5-plate or jamb-stove that was popular in the mid-Hudson Valley at that time which led Christian to his conclusion, or perhaps he saw some masonry kachelofen stoves as descried in this newsletter.

The 5-plate stove was evidently not used in Albany or in the Netherlands. They may originally have been brought to the Mid-Hudson Valley with the French Huguenots who came to settle in the Esopus in the 1680s. The French refugees came by way of a short stay in North-Germany. Jamb-stoves were going out of favor by 1770 when English Jambed fireplaces were replacing the Dutch Jambless type.

1. For an account of this route with some history and observations along the way see: C.G.Hine, The Old Mine Road, Rutgers University Press, and first published 1909.
2. He does not seem aware of the Dutch name, Wiltwick (wildplace or place of the wild ones) nor the second Dutch name given in 1673 when the Dutch reclaimed it for a short time.

From the Editor:

Recent trips to conferences in Michigan and Virginia, plus a short visit to Frederick, Maryland, to see a frame house of the 1730s with some distinct Hudson Valley Dutch in its blend of ideas, have given me a better sense of the regional diversity of colonial architecture and the complexity of the mixtures and changes leading to the American vernacular buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries. Meeting some of the people who helped save two buildings in Frederick as architectural museums and hearing the many informed speakers at the conferences has made me aware also that there is a wide spread interest in the study of regional heritage and there is a lot to be gained from sharing ideas and comparing the artifacts.

On Saturday, March 3 about 22 people attended a tour of three houses arranged by Sally Light. The fIrst, the 1777 David Pratt house in Spencertown, Columbia County, New York is a large two-story Connecticut Valley Georgian house with five fireplaces, lots of paneling and a number of original features well preserved. It has a classic Connecticut plan with center chimney and a double front door opening into a narrow entrance hallway with a twister stairway opposite the doorway. From the hallway interior doors lead to the hall and parlor rooms. The parlor has an exterior "coffin door" on the end-wall that is often found on 18th century Connecticut houses We next drove to South Egremoht, Massachusetts, and visited the Tuller brick-house, signed and dated "1761" in the brick end-wall. The Tuller family came to Massachusetts from Connecticut yet their house has a Hudson Valley look. The triangular tumbling, the Vlechtigen pattern, of bricks on the eves of the end-walls is a technique that once served a purpose on Dutch houses with parapet gables. It is retained here as a mark of identity.

While the Tuller house has a Dutch appearance it had adopted New England style jambed fireplaces and had hidden its ceiling beams behind plaster. The Tuller house had also adopted Connecticut style double-doors as we had previously seen on the Pratt house in Spencertown. Frederick Kelly, in his 1924 book Early Domestic Architecture of Connecticut writes of Dutch influenced doors on Connecticut houses and in one case of a doorway with pentice hood, Page 106, "It is strongly suggestive of Dutch influence, traces of which occasionally occur, and which probably found its way into Connecticut via Long Island or up the Sound."

The last house visited was the Van Deusen stone house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts built in 1771. This was an early Dutch family to settle in the area. The present house is a 7-bay two-room. From the size of the three internal beams and the use of a 15" hood-beam with trimmers it would seem constructed for a jambless fIreplace but 1771 is late for a jambless fireplace and the present New England style jambed fireplace appears original and well preserved.

The house is filled with original paneling. The small fireplace in the three-bay parlor room is paneled and flanked by small. open comer cupboards that have a simplified Connecticut valley look.

These (left) are memory sketches of what might have been original floor plans of the three houses visited. The Pratt house with two stories, five-fireplaces and a center chimney, mark it as a Connecticut house. The Tuller and the Van Deusen house are story and a half, typical of the Hudson Valley Dutch. The Tuller house is a three room center hall, a plan common in the late 18th century Hudson Valley. It is a stylish house, with two parlors with corner fireplaces. Its gambrel roof, common in New York and New Jersey at that time, was thought to have been introduced from New England.

At the TTRAG Conference in Staunton, Virginia, Garlands Wood, of Colonial Williamsburg, gave an excellent talk on the evolution of Tidewater Virginia architecture. It is a unique history and style of building. It seems that the gambrel roof also became popular in Virginia in the1750 and 1760s and in Virginia it is known as a "Dutch roof." It seems that there is still a lot to be learned about the origins of the gambrel roof.

The Van Deusen house has the most typical Hudson Valley form with exposed beams that maintain an identity with the classic four bay room. The massive hood-beam and trimmer beams that once functioned to support a brick smoke hood have been retained in memory of earlier Dutch houses.

Peter Sinclair, editor

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