Category: Decorated Homes at Christmas in the Hudson River Valley

Montgomery Place-Bard College                          26 Gardener Way & River Road                          Red Hook, NY 12571

Montgomery Place-Bard College 26 Gardener Way & River Road Red Hook, NY 12571

Montgomery Place-Bard College

26 Gardener Way & River Road

Red Hook, NY 12571

https://www.bard.edu/montgomeryplace/

Open: Sunday-Saturday From Dawn to Dusk/Mansion is closed

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29820-d209648-Reviews-Montgomery_Place-Annandale_on_Hudson_New_York.html

On a recent trip to the Hudson River Valley for Fall events I took a tour of Bard Campus to visit their campus and tour Montgomery Place which the college bought from the Hudson River Historical Society in 2016. It is now part of the campus and you can tour the grounds but not the inside of the house.

Montgomery Place on the Bard College Campus

Before 2016 when the house was owned by the Hudson River Historical Society who used to have tours of the mansion. When the family sold the mansion and all its contents to the Society, they left the house untouched when they moved out you got to see how the Livingston family lived not just in current times but with all the historical furniture that came with the house. The former tour used to take you through each room that had antique furniture and decorations but much of the house had been modernized over the years. Older furnishings had either been conserved or slipcovered because of age. Since the house has been sold to Bard College, you can only tour the house by appointment only through the college.

The grounds are still impressive. During the Spring, the formal gardens next to the house are in full bloom and the last time I had taken a tour there, the gardens were being maintained by a local garden club. There were flower beds, herb gardens and cutting gardens on top of the flowing lawns from the house to the river.

The Montgomery Place Gardens are changing from Summer to Fall

In the Fall on a recent visit, most of the gardens had been cut back with a few seasonal flowering bushes still showing color. The trees surrounding the house were turning a gold hue while the lawn that had been freshly cut was still emerald green. The house while a little worn from the outside still looked like it was ready to receive guests for the Fall season in the Hudson River Valley. The views from the back of the house are breathtaking from the window views of the Hudson River and the paths leading to it.

There are all sorts of hiking trails to the Sawkill River and through the forests, a trail down to the Hudson River and tours of the property. The grounds are open from dawn to dusk and there is plenty of parking by the Visitor’s Center along with a history of the estate.

The History of the Estate:

(Taken from Wiki)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montgomery_Place

The property had been home Native Americans for at least 5,000 years as a seasonal hunting ground. The Dutch settled in the area in the late 18th century using the Saw Kill River for various mills.

In the late 1770’s, Janet Livingston Montgomery purchased from Abraham Van Benthuysen 242 acres of land on the Hudson River after the death of her husband General Richard Montgomery at the Battle of Quebec. She moved into the home they built after the Revolutionary War. She later had plans made for a Federal style mansion on the riverfront property she bough and moved into her new home, Chateau de Montgomery, in 1805. She established a working farm with the help of friends who gave her tree samples (Wiki).

Upon her death in 1828, the mansion was inherited by her brother, Edward Livingston. He had spent his summers vacationing here with his wife, Louise. They renamed the estate ‘Montgomery Place’. He died the next year and his wife, Louise hired Alexander Jackson Davis to convert the mansion into a more ornate villa. Two wings and exterior decoration were added at this time of the renovation. With the help of Andrew Jackson Downing, a friend of Louise’s and mentor to Davis, she developing the landscapes. Her daughter, Cora Barton worked with the architect on designing garden and conservatory (Wiki).

Upon Louise’s death in 1860, Cora and her husband hired Davis again to build some the earlier outbuildings including Coach House, Swiss Cottage and farmhouse and then extended the landscaping to turn the estate into more ‘pleasure grounds’ and have a separation from the farming operations. The house then passed on to another relative in 1921, John Ross Delafield who added heating and modern plumbing to the house. He and his wife also extended the gardens on the estate as well (Wiki).

Upon his death, his son John White Delafield inherited the house and they opened two corporations to own and operate the property. In 1981, the estate was sold to the Historic Hudson Valley, the historical society. After an extensive renovation, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992 and it was bought by Bard College in 2016 who is its current owner (Wiki).

Philipsburg Manor House                                    381 North Broadway                                       Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

Philipsburg Manor House 381 North Broadway Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

Philipsburg Manor House

381 North Broadway

Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

(914) 336-6900

Open: Please check the website for COVID updates

Fee: Please check the website for the COVID updates

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48622-d299069-Reviews-Philipsburg_Manor-Sleepy_Hollow_New_York.html

I have visited the Philipsburg Manor House and Estate many times over the years. During the “Headless Horseman” Halloween activities, the house is open for tours. You are able to tour the rooms and see the home in a spooky environment. The house was lit by candles and the tour guides lead you through the house.

During a special event at the holidays, the house had seasonal decorations, lit by a combination candles and open hearth fires in the fireplace and tour guides explained a Colonial holiday season.

The Manor House as it was explained to me was a place where the Philipse family stayed when they were away from the main family mansion and was doing business on the estate. So the home was comfortable and workable and functional but not luxurious as the main manor house where the family lived. The kitchen, common room and bedrooms were nicely furnished at the time for the owners visits but was not elegant in the form of the main manor house. This was full working estate at all times. The Mill is located near the manor house and their are walking paths around the house.

During the Halloween season, both Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are busy with activities with readings, cemetery tours, ‘haunted events’ and other activities. Please check out the Historic Hudson Valley website for the roster of events. Things have changed since the era of COVID.

The History of the Philipsburg Manor House:

(WIKI/Historic Hudson River Valley Society)

The Philipsburg Manor House is an historic house in the Upper Mills Section of the former sprawling Colonial-era estate known as Philipsburg Manor. Together with the water mill and the trading site the house is operated bas a non-profit museum by the Historical Hudson River Valley. It is located on US 9 in the Village of Sleepy Hollow, NY. (Wiki)

the Philipsburg Manor House

The Philipsburg Manor House and Mill area of the estate

The Manor House dates from 1693 when wealthy Province of New York merchant Frederick Philipse was granted a charter for 52,00 acres along the Hudson River by the British Crown. He built this facility at the meeting of the Pocantico and Hudson Rivers as a provisioning depot for the family Atlantic sea trade and as headquarters for a worldwide shipping operation. For more than thirty years, Frederick and his wife, Margaret and later his son Adolph shipped hundreds of African men, women and children as slaves across the Atlantic. The manor was tenanted by farmers of various European backgrounds and operated by enslaved Africans (Wiki).

The Working Kitchen

The working kitchen at the Philipsburg Manor house

At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Philipses supported the British Crown and their landholdings were seized and auctioned off. The manor house was used during the war, most notably by British General Sir Henry Clinton during the militaries in 1779. It was there that he wrote what is know as the Philipsburg Proclamation, which declared all Patriot-owned slaves to be freed and that blacks taken prisoner while serving in Patriot forces would be sold in slavery (Wiki/Hudson River Valley History).

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The reproduction of the bedroom in Philipsburg Manor when the family stayed in house

A National Historic Landmark in 1961, the farm features a stone manor house filled with a collection of 17th and 18th Century period furnishings, a working water-powered grist mill and millpond, an 18 century barn, a slave garden and reconstructed tenant farm house (Wiki/Hudson River Valley History).

During the season when the estate is open for visitors, there are costumed interpreters who reenact life in pre-Revolutionary War times doing various chores around the estate. During the Halloween season, the home is open for haunted tours of the manor during the “Headless Horseman” event. During the Christmas holiday season, the home is open for seasonal activities. Please check the website during COVID for activities (Historic Hudson River Valley).

Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society                                                     2 Spring Street                                      Wappinger’s Falls, NY 12590

Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society 2 Spring Street Wappinger’s Falls, NY 12590

The Mesier Homestead & Museum-Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society

2 Spring Street

Wappinger’s Falls, NY  12590

(845) 632-1281

Open: Sunday 1:00pm-4:00pm/Check website for special events

Fee: Adult $10.00/Seniors $7.00/Children 7-18 $5.00/Members Free

https://www.wappingershistoricalsociety.org/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g48799-d16919924-Reviews-Mesier_Homestead_and_Museum-Wappingers_Falls_New_York.html?m=19905

I visited the Mesier Homestead recently and toured the home with a local docent. Home to four generations of the Mesier family, the house has been added onto since it was built in the mid-1700’s. The rooms are decorated with furnishings from the Victorian era and shows life as it may have been in the late 1880’s at the height of the Victorian era.

The tour of the rooms shows how the home was added onto to meet the growing demands of a growing family and one of growing affluence. The original home was added onto from the back to add service areas and work areas for the growing household.

When you enter the foyer from the front door, there are reproductions of family portraits hallway that had served as the parlor of the original house. As the house expanded, this area became the formal entrance to the home. To the right of the foyer, there is the Living Room, where the Historical Society has under covered one of the two fireplaces from the original home that once heated the rooms.

During the late 1800’s, the son of the owner heightened the ceilings to get rid of the railroad ties that once decorated the ceiling. This gave the room a more modern look and showed the affluence of the family that could heat a home with heigh ceilings. The room furnishings included family paintings, a then modern Victrola, ornated furniture and diagram of the family tree. The small steps led to a small office off the Living Room that was added onto with more family objects

When you entered the room from the kitchen and the Butler’s Pantry where food was finished and readied to be served, a formally set Dining Room for dinner showed the family’s status in the community. An ornate china set from England enhanced the table with fine linens that the family would have owned. A newly opened fireplace that had once heated the dining room was shown by a heating unit that would have been used in the Victorian age. All sorts of fine decorative objects lined the tables and shelves. By the amount of space available for living and entertaining with the separate rooms for use in the home it showed how times were changing with the affluence of that time.

The second-floor tour is a view of the slave/then servants’ quarters and the two-family bedrooms. What I thought was interesting on the tour is how the family had to co-mingle in the bedrooms because of the number of children in the family and how mom and dad were not always alone. The rooms had to be expanded so that there was plenty of room for the growing family.

There were many family items in the house like clothing, children’s toys and playthings and items for recreation like bikes, ice skates and musical instruments of a time before TV, movies and radio. There were also items for spinning and making clothes. One of the rooms was also set up like a small school with original children’s desks and blackboards. There is even a Civil War era flag that was found in one of the local homes hanging in the room.

The tour guide also noted the drafts in the house before insulation was put in and the conditions of the time with weather effecting living conditions inside with drafts in the winter and heat in the summer through the roof plyboards. This was modern living at the time. The heat would radiate from the lower level of the house and the Dutch doors would let fresh air in the warmer months. These were modern in comparison to our modern homes. This was the interesting part of the home.

When I asked why the back rooms had not been renovated like the front of the house, our tour guide explained that the Meiser’s were a very devout family and even though they were affluent for the times, they were retrained and not showy like you would see in places like the Vanderbilt mansion. They would not have entertained like that on a grand scale. It was an interesting perspective that those things did not mean that much to these older families.

The tour takes about an hour and is a fascinating step back in history of the way these families lived.

Recently the house was decorated for the Christmas holidays with garland, holly and fragrant oranges that once masked the household smells. They also gave the house a festive fragrance. These popular tours last through the holiday season.

Please check their website for a list of their activities.

The History of the Mesier Homestead:

The Mesier Homestead and surrounding property was sold to the Village of Wappinger’s Falls in 1891 with the understanding that it forever be known as Mesier Homestead and Mesier Park. The Wappinger’s Historical Society acquired full custodianship of the Homestead in 2007 and through ongoing fundraising efforts has been able to restore the Homestead to its present appearance.

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The Mesier Homestead at Christmastime

The History of the house:

The house itself is part of the ‘Rombout Patent’ of land that had been bought by the Dutch from the local Indian tribes by three prominent Dutch families. This section of the property was bought by Nicholas and Adolphus Brewer and contained 750 acres of land around the Falls area, and they built the first stone house in the village near present Mill Street. In 1742, the Brewers built a mill on the east side of Wappinger Creek.

Nicholas Brewer built the Mesier Homestead in 1741, which he sold in 1777 to Matthew Van Benschoten who in turn sold it to Peter Mesier, a merchant from New York City. In May 1777, soldiers and local residents attacked Peter Meiser’s house in Wappinger’s Falls, disputing the price of tea for sale in a small store inside the home. Mesier was a merchant from New York City and a Loyalist. The angry mob struck Mesier, beat his slaves and drank wine stored in the cellar. They also took the tea and left a small amount of money behind. The house was in the possession of the family for the next four generations (Wiki).

The organization’s goal for 2020 and beyond is to restore the original 1741 building so it can be a showcase of our Colonial history. Your membership, gifts and in-kind donations will help us maintain and restore this jewel of Wappinger’s Falls.

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The Mesier Homestead at Christmastime

The Wappingers Historical Society Native American Collection:

The Wappingers Historical Society is the curator of an extensive collection of Native American artifacts, many of which stem from the Stoneco/Clinton Point and Bowdoin Park area in the vicinity of the Town of Wappinger. This collection of artifacts was once considered to be the largest private collection in New York State.

It consists of over 2000 objects, many of which are projectile points (arrowheads and spear points). Some of these have been found to date back 8,500 years. Also included are tools such as scrapers, knives, axes and hatchets. A small portion of approximately 100 pieces of the collection is on display at the Mesier Homestead and can be seen as part of our guided tours.

The Mission of the Wappinger’s Falls Historical Society:

The Wappinger’s Historical is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the Town of Wappinger, the Village of Wappinger’s Falls and neighboring communities and to maintain the custodianship of the Mesier Homestead.

When you are a member of the Wappinger’s Historical Society, you help:

*Preserve and expand our archives, collections and library to actively chronicle the life of our hamlets, village and town for future generations.

*Develop and implement programs and exhibits so that people of all ages can better understand their connection to history.

*Safeguard our architectural heritage of the 1741 Mesier Homestead.

(This information was taken from the Wappinger’s Falls pamphlet, and I give them full credit for it)

Wappinger's Falls Historical Society

The Mesier Homestead

Mount Gulian Historic Site                                   145 Sterling Street                                         Beacon, NY 12508

Mount Gulian Historic Site 145 Sterling Street Beacon, NY 12508

Mount Gulian Historic Site

145 Sterling Street

Beacon, NY  12508

(845) 831-8172

Home

Open: May 5th-October 27th Tours are every hour 1:00pm-5:00pm on Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Special Wedding tours are by appointment.

Fee: Adults $8.00/Seniors $6.00/Children (6-18) $4.00/Members are free

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g47291-d10701912-Reviews-Mount_Gulian_Society-Beacon_New_York.html?m=19905

On my last trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the great houses of the Hudson, I came across Mount Gulian, a Dutch manor that I never heard of in all my visits. This smaller Dutch manor house is actually a reconstruction of an 18th century home that burned to the ground by arson in 1931. The original house had been built between 1730 and 1740 and added onto over the next two centuries.

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Mount Gulian at Christmas in 2021

The house officially had closed for the season at the end of October and was decorated for the holidays for the weekend between December 14-16th to represent the Dutch celebrations. There had been a Children’s tea the Monday before the New Year, so the house was closing down for the season. As the ladies that worked there were taking down the garlands, mistletoe and trees, the curator Amy, let me wonder the rooms as long as I did not get in their way.

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The beautiful garland and lights adorn the house

The house is very unique. You would have never known it was a reconstruction. The house really looked its age. The funny part of the house is that is at the very back of an old estate that had been developed with townhouses from the main road to almost the border of the house’s property, so it was strange to drive through to find the house. Once in the semicircular driveway, you plunge back into time.

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Mount Gulian Homestead in the summer months

The large porch in the front of the house looks over what’s left of the lawn and the housing developments. Once inside you enter the foyer and long hallway with rooms on each side. Each room was or had been decorated for the holidays with garland, mistletoe, fruits and a Christmas tree in one room, a kind of mixture of old Dutch meets Victorian Christmas. Still the effects were nice and it was very festive.

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Mount Gulian’s Dining area decorated for the holidays in 2019

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The Dining Room decorated for Christmas in 2021

What I enjoyed is that in each room, there were stories of the Verplanck family and the role that they played in the formation of the community and in the nation as well.

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The Dining Room set for Christmas dinner in 2021

All of the rooms had artifacts that the family keeps donating the house as most of the original furnishings were destroyed in the 1931 fire. Still the furnishings are vintage to the time period.

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The entrance hall to Mount Gulian at Christmas in 2021

Here and there are stories of the house, the people that lived here and about the family in their daily lives. There were also stories of the Revolutionary War and its headquarters of Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. There was also a display on the founding of the Society of the Cincinnati, a Veterans group.

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The Order of Cincinnati at Mount Gulian

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The history of Mount Gulian and the surrounding area

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The history of Mount Gulian and the surrounding area

The downstairs was the kitchen area and was still set up for a Dutch Christmas. There was also an interactive game that the room was set for and the gift shop for the site is there as well.

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The Mount Gulian kitchen in 2019

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The kitchen decorated for Christmas in 2021

When I left the house, I visited the grounds over-looking the Hudson River. On the property behind the house was a ‘A frame’ Dutch barn. The barn was closed for the season but fit very well into the landscape of the estate. The view of the Hudson River was beautiful.

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The Dutch Barn at Mount Gulian

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The view to the Hudson River from the house in the Summer

I will have to visit again in the Spring when it opens in April. Because of COVID, I never returned to the house again until December 2021 where my aunt and I took a tour of the Christmas decorations.

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The grounds of Mount Gulian with a view of the Hudson River at Christmas 2021

What an interesting tour of the house, we started the talk on the porch where you would have received guests for the holidays. The house was so beautifully decorated for Christmas.

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My aunt waiting by the front door to be greeted on our tour

We went into the dining

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The foyer between the rooms and the back door were decorated to the hilt

We toured the Dining Room first and discussed what would have been served on a proper Victorian table for dinner on Christmas. Until the Victorian Age, things had been kept very simple. You would have decorated the house before Christmas Eve and then on Christmas Day, there would have been an afternoon church service and a nice lunch. Gift giving did not come into play until after the Civil War.

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The Victorian Age made things more elaborate

The Sitting Room was off to the side of the Dining Room and that was decorated as well with family heirlooms and a small library. There were also lots of family portraits of relatives.

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The Sitting Room was decorated with all sorts of garlands and wreathes

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The Sitting Room decorated for Christmas in 2021

The main room was decorated with the family’s coat of arms as well as the history of the house. Since this was a recreation of the original house that burned down in 1931, you got to see pictures of the house at all stages.

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The family portraits in the main room

We also toured the kitchen again where all the magic of the holidays was performed. There was an open hearth for cooking and a bake oven. This is where all the family meals would be produced and the weekly baking done for the family.

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The Colonial kitchen decorated for Christmas in 2021

Unlike most of the homes that line the Hudson River Valley, Mount Guilian looks more like a home than a country estate or a seasonal mansion. This was once a working farm with goods that would be sold down in New York City.

What was nice was at the end of the tour the tour guide had refreshments for us with cookies, small cakes and hot cider. It was a nice way to end the tour of the house. The tour guide and the three of us on the tour had visited so many homes in the past we ended up conversing about our experiences at other decorated houses and our time visiting them. It was a great way to start the Christmas holidays.

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We were served refreshments in the foyer after the tour.

Please check the website for times that the home will be open for touring.

Don’t miss visiting the downtowns of Beacon and Wappinger Falls while visiting the area. Taking Route 9D is an interesting and scenic way to tour the area.

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Downtown Beacon, NY at Christmas in 2021

History of Mount Gulian:

The land where the house stands was purchased by two fur traders Francis Rombout and Gulian Verplanck on August 8, 1683. In exchange for 85,000 acres of land, they paid about $1,250 in goods. The Rombout Patent which formally granted the land to Francis Rombout and Gulian Verplanck was issued by King James II of England on October 17, 1685. After Gulian Verplanck’s death, his estate was eventually divided among divided among his heirs. Julian Verplanck II, a merchant from New York City, received 2880 acres, 400 of which were on a slope overlooking the Hudson River.

He named his estate Mount Gulian, in honor of his grandfather and had the first house on the site built between 1730 and 1740. The building was a small structure with an a-roof. Archaeological evidence suggests it was probably enlarged around 1767 and the characteristic gambrel roof as well as two porches were added between this year and the American Revolutionary War.

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Mount Gulian in an early picture

The Revolutionary War years:

During the war, Gulian Verplanck’s son Samuel stayed at the house, while his wife, Judith Commerlin remained at the family mansion at 3 Wall Street in Manhattan. In early 1783, Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben made Mount Gulian his headquarters. At the same time, George Washington had his headquarters in Hasbrouck House, Newburgh on the opposite side of the Hudson River.

On the morning of May 13, 1783, a group of officers of the Continental Army met at Mount Gulian to found the Society of the Cincinnati. Mount Gulian is headquarters of the Society’s New York State branch. The building was extended by in 1804 by Daniel Crommelin Verplanck, the grandson of Gulian Verplanck II, who also laid out the garden. When Marquis de Lafayette visited the house on his return to America in 1824, he stayed in the new addition.

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The Gardens of Mount Gulian at Christmas in 2021

In 1803, upon the death of Judith Commerlin Verplanck, the family mansion at 3 Wall Street was closed and much of its furnishings moved to Mount Gulian. In 1849, construction of the Hudson River Railroad cut off access to the Verplanck boat and bathhouse at the end of the property at the shoreline.

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The view to Hudson River from Mount Gulian

The Restoration of the House:

The original mansion was destroyed in a fire laid by an arsonist in 1931. After this, the house laid in ruin and was left unattended until 1966, when Bache Bleecker, a descendant of the Verplanck family and his wife, Connie, founded the Mount Gulian Society, as a nonprofit private organization. The goal reconstructed the house to the state it was when it served as von Steuben’s headquarters. The interior contains artifacts related to the Verplanck family. The 18 century Dutch barn was moved here as well.

(This information came from Wiki and I give them full credit for the information)

History of the Verplanck Family:

Mount Gulian is the Hudson Valley colonial homestead of the Verplanck family. Between 1633 and 1638, a Dutch entrepreneur named Abraham Isaac Verplanck arrived in New Netherlands Colony (now New York and New Jersey) from Holland. He originally came to purchase land for a farming settlement and trading post.

The trading post would enable him to trade Dutch goods with the local Native Americans in exchange for beaver and other furs, Indian tobacco and trade goods that were rare in Europe. New Amsterdam was a thriving port and frontier town, filled with Dutch settlers, Indians and traders from all over Europe, Africans, both freemen and slaves, as well as French Huguenots seeking to escape from religious persecution in Europe and Jews fleeing the Inquisition in South American came to a relatively tolerant and busy New Amsterdam.

Abraham Issac Verplanck settled in the growing city and became a prosperous businessman. he married Maria Vigne Roos by 1635, they had Abigail and Gulian (Gulyn is Old Dutch for William), Catalyna, Isaak, Sussanna, Jacomyntje, Ariaentje, Hillegond and Isaak II Issak II moved to Albany and established the Verplanck line in that city, which exists today.

In 1664, an English nave appeared off the coast of New Amsterdam and demanded the city’s surrender. The Dutch surrendered their colony, swore loyalty to the British Crown and saw the city renamed New York. The Verplanck’s spoke Dutch but were now English citizens. By the 1680’s, Gulian Verplanck was sailing up the Hudson River looking for land to increase his wealth.

In 1683, with partners Francis Rombout and Stephanus Van Cortlandt, Gulian Verplanck bought 85,000 acres of land from the local Wappinger Indians for approximately $1200 worth of goods. About 75 miles north of Manhattan, overlooking the Hudson River for miles and going inland into rich meadows and forests, encompassing nearly one-seventh of modern Dutchess County, NY in today’s Fishkill-Beacon area, the purchase was quite a bargain. In 1685, the Deed of Sale was approved by King James II of England and is known as the Rombout Patent.

For the next forty-five years, Verplanck, Rombout and various partners and heirs sub-divided, sold off and rented portions of this huge tract of land, while logging, hunting and planting crops on the land.

During the English colonial period, the Verplanck’s became quite prosperous and built a fine home on Wall Street in Manhattan. The Verplanck’s were civic minded and participated in the development of the business and banking industry in New York City and were among the Trustees of Kings College, now known as Columbia University. Around 1730, a colonial-style fieldstone house was built in Fishkill Landing on the Rombout Patent land.

This rough frontier home was gradually surrounded by a working plantation, a dock on the Hudson that facilitated the New York-Kingston-Albany trade and many service buildings for servants and crop production. This homestead was called “Mount Gulian”, and it was used as a summer retreat for the family and a working plantation but it is not believed that any family member lived at the site year-round until the early 1800’s. Other Verplancks at this time lived in Albany and Verplanck Point in Westchester County, NY.

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The hallway and Dining Room decorating for Christmas 2021

The Verplancks were prominent citizens in colonial New York while maintaining correspondence with their Dutch relatives in Holland. Young Samuel Verplanck was fortunate enough to take “the grande tour” of Europe in 1761. As businessmen of that era, it must be noted that the Verplancks of Manhattan and Mount Gulian owned slaves during the mid-1700’s and into the early 1800’s, most likely house servants and skilled laborers.

Before the Revolutionary War, Samuel Verplanck became involved with anti-British groups and joined “the Committee of Safety of One -Hundred” in Manhattan. This patriot group was poised to take over the city in the event of rebellion, which occurred on April 19, 1775 at Lexington & Concord.

Later during the War for Independence, Verplanck turned over Mount Gulian to the Continental Army because of its strategic location on the Hudson near the Fishkill Barracks and across from Washington’s Headquarters at Newburgh. In late 1782, through the summer of 1783, Mount Gulian was the Continental Army headquarters of patriot General Fredrich Von Steuben. After the American victory at Yorktown, upon learning of the Treaty of Paris, General Von Steuben and other Chief American officers created at Mount Gulian on May 13, 1783, the Society of the Cincinnati, America’s first veterans’ fraternal organization.

In 1804, Daniel Crommelin Verplanck, a member of Congress moved from Manhattan to permanently occupy the home at Mount Gulian, which underwent extensive expansion with the addition of a large frame house attached to the original homestead. An ornamental “English Garden”, all the rage in Europe at the time, was laid out by him and his daughter, Mary Anna to supplement the 6 acres “kitchen garden” and the fields filled with salable crops. More permanent structures were built on the property, still thousands of acres, including barns, smokehouses, storage buildings and structures to facilitate brick making from clay taken from the Hudson.

The Verplanck family grew and eventually married into many prominent families in New York such as the Schuyler’s, the Johnsons, the Delancey’s and the Bleecker’s. Daniel’s son, Gulian C. Verplanck, also a member of Congress, ran for Mayor of New York in 1834, losing what many believe was a fixed election. Other Verplancks were judges, businessmen and wealthy farmers.

With slavery abolished in New York in 1827, the conservative Verplancks, along with many upper-class Northerners, gradually sided with the abolitionists, even hiring and assisting James Brown, an escaped slave who worked for the family for forty years. Brown’s diaries, written at Mount Gulian, provide a detailed record of daily life there.

During the Civil War, Robert Newlin Verplanck volunteered in the Union Army’s United States Colored Troops, training and fighting alongside black troops until the victory at Appomattox. His battlefield letters to his mother and sister have been preserved by Mount Gulian.

The Victorian era at Mount Gulian was a grand time, as the family associated with the local Livingstons, Roosevelts and Vanderbilts. Many Verplancks achieved fame in the professions, in arts and letters and as sportsmen. Verplanck Colvin was a topographical engineer who extensively surveyed the Adirondacks. Virginia E. Verplanck was a celebrated gardener and hostess. John Bayard Verplanck was an early seaplane flyer, racing World War I era veteran and banker.

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The history of the area around Mount Gulian

Mount Gulian was occupied by the Verplancks until 1931, when the house was destroyed by fire. Many of the furnishings and valuable were saved by family members, neighbors and firemen who cleared the house before it was fully engulfed. Prior to the American Bicentennial of 1976, Mount Gulian was beautifully restored with the assistance of Verplanck descendants, local history lovers and members of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1998, Mount Gulian sponsored a well-attended family reunion, which included an updated version of the family genealogy book originally from 1892. Today Ms. Charlotte Verplanck Willman is one of the Mount Gulian Historic Site’s Board of Trustees.

Mount Guilian 2021 XVII

The Order of Cincinnati

(This information was taken from the Mount Gulian Society website and I give them full credit for the information.)