The Senate House
296 Fair Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Open: Sunday 1:00pm-5:00pm/Wednesday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm (April 15-October 31). Open by Appointment only (November 1-April 14)
Fee: Adults $4.00/Seniors (62+) $3.00/Children under 12 and under Free
My review on TripAdvisor:
I recently spent my afternoon at the Senate House and Museum in Kingston, NY taking a tour of the museum and the House next door. The Senate House itself is being renovated and repaired and will not be open until next year. It was a quiet afternoon, and I was the only patron for most of the afternoon. The grounds were full of beautiful foliage and fall flowers, so it was nice to walk around the grounds.
The Senate House plaque
The Senate House itself was closed for the renovation but you could see in the windows and there was not much going on inside the house. There was furniture here and there and the roof really needed work. There is not much to see at the house itself but the grounds are very pretty and well-landscaped. The house was built for merchant Abraham Van Gaasbeek and his family. It stayed in the family for generations.
The Senate House at 296 Fair Street
The Senate House decked out for the Christmas holidays at the “Kingston Snowflake Festival” in 2022
The Senate House property decorated for the Kingston Snowflake Festival in 2022
Santa’s visit at the Senate House property in 2022
The Senate House Museum is broken into three sections. The right side of the museum is is the history of the City of Kingston and the matching artifacts. There is a description of manufacturing, merchant class and its military prominence. The left side of the museum is dedicated to the locally born artist, John Vanderlyn. His paintings line the walls of the museum of the artist at different stages of his career. His work was ahead of its time for the area, and it was noted in the collection that he forced himself to commission portraits to survive. His works advanced for the time because of his studying abroad now line the walls of the best museums in the country.
The second floor holds the furniture that is not historically correct with the Senate House and comes from different time periods. There is furniture, beds and chairs, spinning wheels, chamber pots and all sorts of accessories for the home.
Artifacts from the past are displayed here
The Loughran House next door houses more of the furniture of the house and has a new exhibition “Back to the Future: The Evolution of Senate House”. This houses artifacts from the house.
The Senate House property during the “Kingston Snowflake Festival” in 2022
History of the Senate House:
(From Wiki/Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation pamphlet)
Amidst the turmoil of a British military invasion in the fall of 1777, the elected representations of rebellious New Yorkers met in Kingston to form a new state government. While convened in Kingston in September and October, New York’s first Senate met in the simple stone house of merchant Abraham Van Gaasbeek.
Here they adopted a system comprising of a senate, assembly, governor and judiciary that still exists today. Every one of the assembled delegates risked his life and property by being so openly disloyal to the Crown. Indeed, all were forced to flee for their lives when the British attacked and burned Kingston on October 16th.
While convened in Kingston in September and October, New York’s first Senate met in the simple stone house of Abraham Van Gaasbeek, a prosperous merchant trader who had suffered financial losses as a result of the war and personal losses in the recent deaths of his wife, Sara, his daughter and infant granddaughter. It was Sara’s grandfather, Wessel Ten Broeck, who built the original section of the house in 1676.
At first called Wiltwyck, Kingston was the third “city” established in the Dutch Colony of New Netherland. Planned and developed by the Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant in 1656, the town was renamed Kingston after the colony was seized by the English in 1664.
Wessel Ten Broeck’s one room Dutch style house was enlarged by succeeding owners in the 18th century. Each change reflected the increasing fortunes of the Ten Broeck/Van Gaasbeek family and demonstrated a gradual acceptance of English styles and customs over the persistent influence of the early Dutch. Kingston at the time of the American Revolution was still a noticeably “Dutch” town and most of its citizens supported the American cause. British Major General John Vaughan justified his destruction of the city because it was a “nursery for almost every villain in the country.”
In 1887, to recognize Senate House’s role in the formation of New York State, New York State acquired the property, which quickly became a vital community museum. A two-story Museum Building was constructed in 1927 to house and display the site’s burgeoning collection. Among its treasures are: major works by John Vanderlyn and other members of the Vanderlyn family of Kingston. The museum also includes the site’s popular new exhibit: “Kingston Stockage: New Netherlands’ Third City,” discussing Kingston’s early history.
(New York State Park History)
The Kingston Stockade: The City’s formation from the beginning