Last updated: 4/1/2011
207 Old Niskayuna Rd.
Latham, NY 12110
PO Box 1254
Latham, NY 12110
|Monday - Friday||9 AM - 4:30 PM|
Free admissions...donations greatly appreciated!
Diane Morgan, Curator
Pamela Rowley, Ast. Curator
Jo Anne Saulsbery, Administrative Assistant
Pruyn House, a beautifully restored home situated on 5 1/2 acres in the hamlet of Newtonville, Town of Colonie, has a connection to the Dutch heritage of New York's Capital District.
Casparus Pruyn, his wife, Ann, and their eight children occupied this summer home which was built between 1825 and 1830. Constructed on land leased from Stephen Van Rensselaer III, the last Patroon, it is a blend of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. Mr. Pruyn had been employed by the Patroon as his land agent. Upon the death of Van Rensselaer in 1839, Casparus Pruyn became the owner of the property.
The house and 114 acres of the estate were sold in 1848 to Alfred Mayell for $3,800. In 1893, the property was purchased at an Albany County land auction by John H. Henkes Jr. and his wife, Carrie, who lived on an adjoining farm. The Henkes family used the 40-acre parcel as a working farm. The outbuildings consisted of barns, a carriage house, stables, a smokehouse, a well house, a combined woodshed and privy, a potting shed, and greenhouses. The stables and one barn were lost to fires, and a summer kitchen at the rear of the house was removed to make way for a circular driveway. Very few structural changes have been made to the house.
The mission of the Friends of Pruyn House, in partnership with the Town of Colonie, is to restore and conserve the Pruyn House Complex as an educational, cultural and social center. The Friends of Pruyn House, through the Board of Trustees and staff, manage the Complex.
The Friends plan and fund all programming, special events, insurance, newsletters, and many improvements and furnishings for the Complex. Funds are raised through a membership program, rentals, grants, and fundraising events. The Town of Colonie contributes funding for basic services, utilities, salaries, and maintenance of the grounds.
The house and 5 1/2 acres were acquired by the Town of Colonie in 1983. The purchase was financed by a bond issue for $110,000 for the house and $140,000 for the first phase of the restoration. This included brick work, roofing, plumbing, heating, windows, floors, some woodwork, and a kitchenette.
An inventory of the contents of the house and outbuildings was found, and has been of immense value in determining the manner in which the house was furnished up to the 1850s.
There are currently ten buildings on the Pruyn House Complex. They include the Buhrmaster Barn, reconstructed and moved to the site in 1987, and the Verdoy Schoolhouse that was moved to the site in 1995. Other structures include a smokehouse, potting shed, woodshed/privy building, now the Tool Museum, carriage house, well house and restroom facility. Herb and flower gardens, maintained by the Fort Orange Garden Club, are focal points of the site. They feature brick walks, painted fences, and a sun dial.
The Buhrmaster Barn was originally located on the Mohawk River where it was rebuilt in the late 1800?s after a fire, and moved to the Troy-Schenectady Road. It was moved to the Pruyn House site in 1987. The barn retains many early features, such as hand-hewn beams and wooden pegs. It has double doors and is a lovely site for a summertime party, when the gardens and the grounds are at their best.
The Buhrmaster Barn is used for our concert series, flower shows, quilt shows, contra dancing, and meetings. It is also a popular venue for weddings and receptions. Other uses include fund-raising events, such as antique and craft shows, theatrical performances, and exhibitions.
The Verdoy schoolhouse was built in 1910. It is a good example of the early one-room schools built in the Town of Colonie and used until the 1950s. The schoolhouse was donated by the North Colonie School District in 1995. It has been restored to preserve an important part of Colonie's history and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
The Pruyn family of Albany was one of the oldest Dutch families in New York. Frans Jansen Pruyn was the first Pruyn to come to America, arriving in the 1660s. Records show that in 1683 the Pruyns were members of Albany's Dutch Reformed Church. Successive generations married into prominent local Dutch families, such as the Lansings, Ten Eycks, and Van Burens.
Casparus Francis Pruyn, a sixth generation American, had this house built in 1830 as a country home for his wife, Ann Hewson, and their several children. One of their sons, Robert Hewson Pruyn, practiced law in Albany. He was twice elected speaker of the New York State Assembly, and achieved the rank of brigadier general in the State Militia. In 1861, President Lincoln appointed him Minister to Japan where he served with success and distinction.
Robert Dunbar, Casparus's uncle served as land agent to the Van Rensselaer Manor before Casparus assumed the position. Dunbar held a lease to this property and passed the lease to Casparus. The latter became the owner of this property in 1839 following the death of Stephen Van Rensselaer III.
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