NEWSLETTER, October 2005, Part Three
In the afternoon we drove about 10-miles to the Windfall Dutch barn in Cherry Valley. This is a barn, like the Canajoharie barn, that is on its original site. Along with the Dutch barn moved from near here to the Phillipsburg Manor at Tarrytown, they share many regional characteristics. John Wigen says that the present 2-story Italianate Victorian house contains a pre-Revolutionary story-and-a-half Palatine frame house.
John worked on the restoration of the Windfall barn in the 1970's. It remains an active, privately funded site that serves the community for music, dance and cultural events. It has survived over the years with loving care but is presently in need of a new shingle roof. Donations are needed and can be sent to Keith MacGregor, 964 Salt Sprinville Road, Cherry Valley, NY 13320; (518) 993-2239.
Some believe the Windfall Dutch barn predates the Revolution but from our observations, it contains many features that are later than those in the Canajoharie barn.
Friday, September 9, In order to continue the Survey of Dutch architecture in the Town of Red Hook, Dutchess County, I went with Craig Vogel and Bob Hedges to meet Todd Scheff at an early wood frame house on Pitcher Lane that is about to undergo restoration by its present owner, Amy Dubin. On the 1850's map it is listed as Elmendorf. We registered it:
We were unable to get into the house but Todd was recently for a short time. He believes the back wing was moved to its present location. He found a corbel stone in the cellar wall under the hallway of the main house indicating it originally had a Dutch jambless fireplace and no center-hall. The late 19 th century 3-bay side entrance barn has a square-rule sawn timber frame designed for a hay track. We will try to get into the house on Sunday.
Saturday, September 10 Drove to Feura Bush, Albany County, to meet with Keith Cramer, president of The Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS) and Ev Rau, one of its founders, to move a small, 10 by 20-foot, horse shed for Carl Touhey's pair of horses. The ground is too wet where he was stabling them and they were getting hoof rot. He wanted to move it to a drier spot.
In the 1980's Touhey had Richard Babcock move The Larger Wemp Barn to go with the 1750 stone house on his farm in Feura Bush. The house was constructed as part of the American defenses at the start of the French and Indian War. In the 1990's Ev Rau, fulfilling the wish of the late Vince Scheffer, and began construction of a 6-pole hay barrack to go with the barn, like the ones in the 1733 Van Bergen overmantle painting. Ev was helped over the years by members and friends of DBPS and Carl Touhey. Ev gathered the wood and grew the rye straw to thatch the barrack. John Kaufman from Hurley, Ulster County, was a key person in thatching the roof.
Last year, with the old roof repaired but looking rough and the poles leaning badly, Ev grew another field of rye on his farm in Altamont, and an English thatcher from Plimouth Plantation used the straw to replace the old cover with a smoother look. Ev is planning another crop of rye next year and has some advice; don't plant clover with it, as he did this year. It makes a mess cleaning it from the straw.
Ev ordered two 24-foot logs from a local sawmill, with a minimum diameter of 12-inches on the small end, cut on two adjacent sides, some 2 and 3-inch planks for structure and some 1- inch boards for temporary bracing of the shed. The building was jacked up and set on blocks. The beams were pushed under the building by a neighbor farmer using his tractor. Two 2-inch planks were nailed crosswise to the beams as braces. A 3-inch plank was used as a compression piece in the front, and 3-inch planks were laid sideways on the beams to support the side walls of the shed.
A sturdy structure was needed to move the building because it had little of its own. Made a few years ago of 2x4-inch studs and these laminated for plates the building was made with as much economy of materials as was possible. The sills were 6x6 pressure treated but were not complete in the front and there was no floor. The building was twistable.
When the skid was complete the horse shed was let down to rest on the frame and it was attached with two chains to the tractor. The shed was dragged across the turf, rotated 180-degrees and positioned on its new site of crushed stone, facing the morning sun.
Finally the building was raised and the skid disassembled, nails pulled and parts put to the side. The building was lowered and it was planned to later drill holes in the sill plates and re-attach the building to the ground with vertical iron re-bars. Horses have a tendency to push walls out of plumb.
The sawyer had told Carl he would pick up the two hemlock beams if he had no further used for them but Carl said he would use them to build a bridge.
HVVA MEETING .................................................................... Maggie MacOowell, Secretary
Saturday, September 17, 2005, Vice President, Jim Decker, Treasurer, Peter Sinclair, Bob Eurich, Dennis Tierney and Maggie MacDowell, were greeted by Don Van Leuvan of the Edmonston House Museum in Vales Gate, New Windsor, Orange County, NY. We were joined by Mike Clark of the New Windsor Cantonment site nearby (*).
The Edmonston house is located on Route 207. James Edmonston and his wife Margaret Smith, emigrated from Enniskillen, Tyrone County, Ireland, in 1720 to Plymouth, Massachusetts. They arrived in New Windsor in 1727 and bought land to build a home. The family probably lived in a log cabin until 1755 when the first 2-story stone house was built, followed soon after with a 2-story stone addition. The family owned at least one slave at that time and by 1790 owned eight slaves.
In 1782-1783, during the last winter of The Revolution, The Edmonston House was headquarters to the Generals St, Clair and Gates. It remained in the family until the early 20 th century when it eventually became a used car-parts junkyard. In the 1940's it suffered a serious fire in the east wing. It was eventually acquired by a private group, The National Temple Hill Association, who, with private funds and help from the architect, Ray Ruge, restored the house to the condition we see it in today. It still contains questions about its development and early arrangements.
Don Van Leuvan gave the group a tour of the side by side stone house, each side with its separate stairs and lofts. A natural gas heating system has just been installed called "vernical" and manufactured by Unico. It seems to be a good design for a stone house as it makes little visual impact, and does not diminish the sense of an early home.
Jim Decker and Peter Sinclair have opened a second HVVA checking account that will handle the finances of John Stevens' new book. John has offered HVVA 40% of sales and HVVA has offered John to cover distribution over-run costs. HVVA Members are encouraged to sell and distribute the books through HVVA as this gives us better income than selling them wholesale to book stores and distributors. John has signed an agreement with North Country Books, Inc. of Utica, NY, who will advertise and distribute the book to major outlets.
The book has been selling well. John Stevens and Nancy Ginsberg attended the 28th Rensselaerswyck Seminar in Albany and sold ten soft cover copies there plus eight to the Albany Museum book store.
To maintain our regular third-Saturday meeting date, the next scheduled meeting of HVVA will be held at the Mabee Farm Museum in Rotterdam Junction, The Holland Society is also holding a meeting there that day and we hope to sell them some books.
(*) For a still-available, short well-told history of the area, especially its role in The Revolution as the last winter encampment (cantonment) of Washington, his Generals and the American Army before the surrender of Manhattan, see 18th Century Homes in New Windsor and its Vicinity, by Marion M. Mailler & Janet Dempsey, published by The National Temple Hill Association, in 1969. It is a description and history of 19 homes within four miles of The Cantonment and depicted on The Simon DeWitt Map of 1783.
For a report on an earlier visit to the area see HVVA Newsletter July 2004, Vol 6 No 7.
Friday, September 23, I met with Maggie Mac Dowell and Jim Decker at a stone house in Hurley, Ulster County, to examine and document it. Known as the Bevier House, it is for sale, ($469,900.00), and advertised as the Hyman Roosa House. The Roosa and Elmendorf families were its original builders. The real estate agent, Mary Collins opened the house for us. We were joined later by Dave Baker, the Town of Hurley Historian who has done extensive research of the town records and of probable dates the houses in the old village were constructed A report will appear in the next HVVA Newsletter.
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