HVVA NEWSLETTER, September 2004


Saturday, August 21 Ten HVVA members met in the Town of Ulster, Ulster County at the Felton/Ten Broeck/Chmura/Sweeney House (Uls-Uls-2) for a tour of three stone farm houses in that town, all are story-and-a-half and have evidence of granary doors into their lofts.

The first two houses we would visit, The Felton/Ten Broeck and the Ousterhoudt/Verdi (Uls-Uls-3) represent modified mid 18th century examples of Dutch houses. Both have whitewashed exteriors, a finish that is rarely seen on local stone houses today but was common 100-years ago, and can be seen on early photographs and in the 1870 paintings of Ulster County by the artist Winslow Homer.

Hank Zigler of West Camp, who works on the Huguenot stone houses in New Paltz says that in addition to the clean decorative effect it gives, the whitewashed exterior also protects and adds lime to the lime mortar flashing set between the stones. The flashing protects the vulnerable interior mortar of mud and clay, used to stabilize the circa 2-foot thick stone wall.

The Felton/Ten Broock house on Flatbush Road, has had an interesting modern history. In the 1920’s it was noted and photographed by Helen Reynolds (Reynolds plate 89) who admired the simple, authentic condition of the house. She described the Chmura family and their setting as like a Renaissance painting and writes quite poetically about it and, the impoverished European Slavic peasants of recent arrival, who are farming the land, maintaining the whitewashed stone exterior of the house, and have not modernized the windows.

“Unconsciously, ”Reynolds writes, ”these European peasants imparted to their home something impossible to define but which never lingers about the habitations of Rural Democracy.”

In May 1936,Thomas T. Waterman documented the house for the Historic American Building Survey (HABS). He took 2 pictures, one of the front of the house and one of an interior door. He wrote the following description:

Story and half stone house with weatherboarded gable(s) above (rafter) tie beams. 2 late dormers on roof. House built in three sections. Earliest said to be eastern, the others dated 1761, 1765. The principal features of interest are 3 original casements, 2 with original glazing and shutters. Glass size 7x9; muntins about 1 1/4 “ wide. “ He made a sketch of its floor plan, fireplaces and beams.

In 1939 the house was visited by Mr. Johnson, an antique dealer from Kingston, who was gathering artifacts for Mr. Du Pont’s museum of historic architecture and material culture at Wintithur, in the state of Delaware. He was able to procure an early casement window and had it replaced with a somewhat historically accurate sash with modern hardware and 1” wide muntins. The present owner is anxious to visit Wintithur and examine the original sash for his restoration of the house. Johnston offered $100 for the interior door that HABS had photographed but Steve Chmura declined knowing the door would add more to the value of the house when it was eventually sold.

Over the years since then one exterior door was eliminated, the opening filled with stone, windows were added and others replaced, some with vinyl sash. Nothing remains of the original casements, but the cruelest blow was the theft of the fabled interior door and the last pair of original 18th century exterior shutters. Like recent robberies at the West Camp stone house in Saugerties, they were stolen during a period between owners when the house was vacant.

Date Stone “JF 1751 MF”
The Felton/Ten Broeck/Chmura/Sweeney Stone House
Flat Bush, Town of Ulster, Ulster County, NY

Known as the Benjamin Ten Broeck house it was built by him as a tenant house on his family land for the Felton (Velton, many spellings) family. According to Reynolds, the Ten Broeck family of Kingston originally owned one-mile of frontage on the west bank of the Hudson River, a property that extended 2-miles inland.

The Feltons came with the 1710 Palatine German immigration and this may account for the west room dated 1756, that very likely was built as a stube, or room with a German five-plate stove projecting off the back of the fireplace.

The Ten Broeck family House built in 1748 (Reynolds Plate 88) was located on the Hudson River, it was burned by the British in 1777 and the family is said to have lived temporarily in the Felton house while their River home was being rebuilt. As the brick industry began to invade the area it was sold by the family and torn down in 1906.

The present owner of the Felton/Ten Broeck house, Robert Sweeney, has come up with a new interpretation of the development of the house that seems more in tune with what is being found. He believes the 1751 center section was built first, the 1756 stube added next and the south room added soon after as a kitchen. Like the center room it originally had a jambless fireplace but it has no cellar and its beams.are smaller.

The next house visited in Lake Katrine was the Osterhoudt House (Reynolds plate 81) said to be where the family began farming in the late 1600’s. Jan Jansen Van Oosterhoudt (Eastwood) a village in Brabant, The Netherlands, was born in 1628 or 30, and was living in Kingston by 1661. He acquired the140-acre property in 1669 and the present stone house was lived in by the Osterhoudt family into the early 20th century.

The 1740 date stone lists Willem Osterhoudt (1703-1772) and his wife Sarah Hasbrouck, from a prominent French Huguenot family. Helen Reynolds writes, “The author of the History of Saugerties. the late Benjamin Myer Brink, a careful investigator, believed that the first (west) end was built in 1691.” The current owner told Reynolds that there was a date stone in the east end. We discovered what may be a date stone with its inscription hidden under whitewash. It may hold some answers to the dating of the sequence of construction. Measured drawings of the house need to be done.

What is impressive is the relatively low ceiling and the very heavy anchorbeams that give the three room interior an early feel. By chance, in a modern side room, a recent plumbing leak had necessitated removing some plaster board ceiling that revealed the original condition of the hearth beam and where the original jambless fireplace had been located. The 1740 end now begins to look like a one or two room gable entrance house with its date stone next to the front door.

The last house The Felton/Markisenis (Uls-Uls-4) has its “1798” date stone in the back wall and the basement ceiling is framed as if for a center chimney. There is evidence in the stone end-walls of a roof raise. It caused John Stevens to ask, “Do you think this building might have started out as something other than a house?”

The Felton/Markisenis Stone House and Date Stone
Town of Ulster, Ulster County, NY

Friday, August 20 with John Stevens and Jim Decker we visited the 1750 Matthew Ten Eyck stone house (Uls-Hur-14) in the Town of Hurley, Ulster County. The late Helen Reynolds, author of the classic 1929, Dutch Houses of the Hudson Valley, visited the house in the late 1920’s (see plate 90, page 223 of her book) and had concluded that the original four room plan was the result of additions and roof rotations. This is now being questioned. John Stevens first visited the house in 1967 and did some measured drawings of details. He had just come here from Canada after studying the vernacular architecture of the eastern provinces and was not yet familiar with the Dutch houses of the Hudson Valley.

The setting of the Ten Eyck stone house, overlooking broad fertile fields and set against a forested mountain side is a memorable landmark in the Esopus Valley, a reminder of the large grain farms that were the agricultural base of the area until the early 19th century. Today the fields grow sweet corn. The Paul family, who operate the farm, acquired the house in 1963. In the 1970’s there was a fire that destroyed most of the roof.

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