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HVVA Newsletters


Thursday, December 30
I took the afternoon off to do a whirlwind tour of an area of southern Dutchess County, with Dennis Tierney, a native of Staten Island with only a few years experience of the Fishkill area that he has come to call home. He feels there is a distinct and common late 18th century farm house type in the area east of Poughkeepsie and that they all face south. It is a center hall house with a gable-roof and is story-and-a-half two-rooms deep.

We would pass more than a dozen of these houses having very similar proportions. There were also some story-and-a-half single room deep houses that are a more common type in Ulster and northern Dutchess Counties. Frame houses predominate in this area of Dutchess County we would explore, but a few early ones are of stone and later brick. One showpiece, The Verplanck/Van Wyck House (Dut-EF-10) with a gambrel roof in the Town of East Fishkill is a stone house but maintains a spectacular facade of red brick laid in Flemish bond with the end bricks glazed. Reynolds writes that it is dated with black brick, 1768, in the end wall facing the Sprout Creek. Driving the twisted back roads, passing through a landscape that is in many places still rural and scenic, we discovered three new Dutch aisle barns and passed by two old Dutch barn friends. Dennis described to me the mountains and how the old roads ran, how they followed the creeks and valleys we explored. We began in the Town of Wappingers on All Angels Hill Road following the Sprout Creek north to Swartwoutville.

No one was at home at the first frame house we came to, a four room center hall house known as The 2nd House of Jacobus Swartwout, and built in about 1789. Jacobus was born in Dutchess County in 1734 and married Aeltje Brinkerhoff in 1760, when he built his first frame house near here, now gone. Jacobus's great grandfather Roeloff Swartwout came from a place called het Zwarte Woud (the Black Wood) in the northern province of Friesland in The Netherlands and was one of the early settlers of the Esopus colony in Ulster County. Jacobus Swartwout served as a Captain in the French and Indian War and became General of the local militia during the Revolution. He served in the State House and Senate.

At the second house we met the Rigbey family who moved here from, Staten Island six months ago. They told us what they knew of their new home and welcomed us into their large cellar and attic with reused rafters from the original house. Known as the House of Peter DuBoise (1674-1738), a nephew of Louis, one of the 12 French Huguenot families that settled New Paltz in Ulster County in the 1680's. Peter was probably born in Kingston. The house is dated (1732 and 1902) on two stones set beside the entrance into the stone section of the house. Its carved numbers and letters are covered by layers of white paint and traced with black.

The 2-story frame house built in 1909, incorporates the circa 1760 1 1/2-story 2-room stone house. Helen Reynolds writes in her 1929 book Dutch Houses of the Hudson Valley Before The Revolution, that the meaning and family associations of the letters, HHxM32+IM, engraved on the 1732 stone, were unknown. As date stones are collected in Ulster County, there has arisen the question whether there is a different meaning for "x" and "+."

Reynolds was told that the stone was found in the first section of the stone house that was torn down by the White family, descendants of the DuBoise family living in the house at that time. When the house was enlarged, presumably in 1909, the stone was moved from the original outer south wall and placed in the west wall beside the new front entrance facing the road. It indicates that the house began as a classic gable entrance, one room Dutch house facing south. When the two-room addition was made in circa 1760, the center room was likely heated by a five plate stove built off the back of the original jambless fireplace.


Peter came to Dutchess County before 1713 when he is listed as in possession of a piece of Madam Brett's land. He also held a lifetime lease on 109 acres of an island at the mouth of the Vis Kill (Fish Kill), what is today Beacon. Peter may have farmed open fields on the island where the Indians had grown corn. He probably grew wheat there. Peter farmed the island until 1729, at which time he received a deed from Gullian Verplanck for 456 acres lying on the Sprout Creek.

From what we could see of the cellar beams, and one trimmer beam on the north end, it looked to us like a classic Dutch two room stone house, each room of four-bays. The beam at the south end lies close against the wall, rather than in it, and there are the remains of an earlier window frame, facing into the cellar, with maybe 30-years of weathering. This is evidence of the original 1732 house and its circa 1760 two room addition. Hudson Valley Dutch styles of construction, and fireplaces had changed little in those years.

We drove to the nearby Westphalia Farm (Dut-Wap-5) on Brown Road that has an enlarged stone house and a collection of early farm buildings. The 4-bay butch barn is now used as a cabinet shop with its internal frame exposed. The tenant craftsman who runs the shop has set up woodworking tools in it. The barn is a large third-quarter 18th century scribe rule true-form Dutch barn. It has extended anchorbeam tenons with two wedges.

Nearby we discovered another Dutch barn (Dut-Wap-6). It was originally a 3-bay scribe-rule barn, 42-foot wide and 35-feet long with 9.5-foot high side walls. In the 19th century it was lengthened with a 2-bay square-rule addition off the back with anchorbeams lowered to about 6 feet from the floor. This is a common configuration that increases hay storage. I have been calling them Dutch U-barns. They are widely distributed in The Hudson Valley. We could find no evidence of the original wagon doors.

We crossed over the Sprout Creek into the Town of East Fishkill, passed clusters of new houses and treeless hilly fields being leveled and excavated by monster machines. We came to the shore of Lake Walton, a still untouched wooded landscape where the developers have been removing tenants, house trailers and other thing that offend the well-to-do, preparing for the upscale real estate to come.

A small frame house (Dut-EF-8) stands abandoned on the shore of the lake, a house with history, lengthened by generations of additions, painted white and Federalized two-hundred years ago. It is a vernacular landmark preserved with love and poverty, a gift from the past about to become the office for promoting what is to come. We walked around it; noted its projecting brick-bee-hive-oven in need of some simple repair; looked in its windows; saw many beams exposed; and saw that it was one-room deep. Its narrow eyebrow windows reflect its Dutch style timber frame within.

We drove east to Hopewell Junction, passing the funeral home and their early 4-bay Dutch barn, Wyck/McHoul (Dut-EF-1). Then following the Fishkill Creek (Vis Kill), of which the Sprout Creek is a tributary, we drove until we saw an interesting and nicely restored frame house on the left and stopped to take pictures. Walking up the driveway, it was clearly seen as a two part house with the entrances facing south, and judging by the pitch of the roof, the smaller section was earlier.

The proud owner of 30 years was home and gave us some background on the house and showed us the interior. The Issac Lent House is on a farm (Dut-EF-9) that was bought by Issac from Madam Brett and the first small side entrance section was built in circa 1754. A story-and-a-half, center hall house was added on to the east in about 1770. Both sections are two-rooms deep and their ceiling beams are hidden. The owner has exposed the light roughhewn ceiling beams in the east room, originally behind plaster, they run longitudinally, that is the long-way or in line with the roof ridge. It is a very rare occurrence. These beams could be called joists because they are not part of bents. The story-and-a-half configuration suggests a Dutch H-bent construction but the joists suggest a modification.

Helen Reynolds researched a great deal about the families of this area of southern Dutchess County. Settlement began in the Poughkeepsie area after 1685. Many of the first families were 2nd generation Dutch from Albany, New Jersey and Long Island, and Dutch and French Huguenots from Kingston. They were joined by the newly arrived Palatine Germans and the eventual invasion of New Englanders from the east, all these added to the mixture of the architectural style.

We passed the Storm/Brinkerhof/Bernstein frame house with its gambrel roof and many additions (Dut-EF-6) and the Clover Hill Farm Dutch barn (Dut-EF-4). This small Dutch barn is part of a complex of well maintained outbuildings. I had been on the lookout for fences and took notice of two old sections of a traditional braced post and rail style frame, a kind once used to grow roses on, or put together to create a garden fence.

We drove past a number of the story and-a-half 4-room center-hall frame houses, that Dennis had taken note of. We passed the "Four Corners Development," a cluster of housing with contemporary lines and industrial materials. We came to The Clove in the Town of Beekman, an isolated area with rolling open fields and distant wooded hills; that surround the 1740 Nicholas Emigh Stone House (Dut-Bee-1), a Palatine German family that was part of the large 1710 immigration. It is one of a number of early Palatine German stone houses mentioned by Reynolds in southern Dutchess County, It is a well maintained building, and despite some window and door changes, it is very like it was in 1740, but minus its Dutch aisle barn, and probably something like the 1732 house of Peter DuBoise on the Sprout Creek, also missing its barn.

No one was at home. We took pictures but did not look in the windows of the Nicholas Emigh stone house. I did notice that the fence surrounding the house was made from the sprouts and branches of the Honey Locust tree, a species traditionally used for fence posts and frequently planted on homesteads here. Some say the locust tree acts as a lightning rod to protect the house. It is a handsome fence that does not offend the stone house but it is made possible by bands of modern wire whereas the rail-and-style fence at the Clover Hill farm in East Fishkill, is an earlier form of fence that uses little or no iron.

FROM THE EDITOR: It is getting to be that time of winter when it is hard to plan outdoor projects. The February HVVA meeting will be held on Saturday February 26 at the warm and comfortable Marbletown Firehouse at 10PM on Route 209, Ulster County. We will be meeting with our new president, Paul Spencer, who has some ideas for 2005.

Projects underway are the Spring Barn Repair Workshop at the Palatine Farmstead on Route 9 in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County. This will be held one week in March or April. Final dates are yet to be set. Also a tour of Rocklleigh Township in New Jersey and nearby Tappan, New York being organized by Dough Johnsen for Saturday, March 19.

Keith Cramer and Ned Pratt from the Dutch Barn Preservation Society (DBPS) in Schenectady County, have finished a preliminary plan for a 4-year Dutch Farmstead Survey, 2005 to 2008. It will include The Mohawk, Schoharie and Hudson River Valleys as well as Long Island and northern New Jersey. It will be a joint project headed by members of DBPS and HVVA It will be organized county wide and recruit assistance from local individuals and societies to work on a coordinated identification and registration of vernacular architecture in the New World Dutch cultural area, a survey long over due.

This ambitious survey is being done in part, as a preparation for the 400th anniversary celebration of Henry Hudson's "discovery" in 1609, of the river that bears his name. This celebration will see input from many historically oriented groups and will be creating a new public interest in our history and hopefully the true value of our vernacular architecture.

Peter Sinclair, Editor.
West Hurley, Ulster County, NY

HVVA January 2005 Newsletter, Part Two

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