Sunday, October 15, 2017

Visiting the c1765 Schuyler Mansion in Albany, NY

Sunday, October 15, 2017
Susan reporting,

This weekend I visited one of my favorite historic houses, the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, NY. Originally known as The Pastures when it was built in the 1760s, the large brick house was built by Philip Schuyler (1733-1804), who was one of George Washington's original four generals during the American Revolution, a state senator, and a successful business entrepreneur.

The Pastures was surrounded by nearly a hundred acres of orchards and formal gardens, and filled with costly furnishings imported from London. Guests (who included George and Martha Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin, and Francois Alexandre, the Duc de La Rouchefoucauld-Liancourt) remarked both upon the house's grandeur and the Schuylers' warm hospitality.

Philip Schuyler's grand house remained in the family for only a single generation, however, and was sold by his children after his death. The house passed through numerous owners, and in the late 19thc it became the home of the St. Vincent's Orphan Asylum Society, serving as a dormitory for orphans. In 1911, the diocese sold the house to the State of New York for $40,000. A Board of Trustees (including three women) oversaw the house's preservation and restoration. Renamed the Schuyler Mansion, the house opened to the public on October 17, 1917, fittingly on the anniversary of the British defeat at the Battle of Saratoga.

Now operated under the auspices of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYS OPRHP), the Schuyler Mansion has celebrated its centennial as a historic site this year in grand style with projects that have included restoring the steps leading to the house's front door; recreating the "Ruins of Rome" scenic wallpaper in the halls (see my earlier blog post here, and another about the elaborate wool flock wallpaper found in several of the rooms); restoring Schuyler family silver and china for display; replacing the roof and repairing exterior woodwork; and restoring and reupholstering an elegant set of 1790s chairs and sofa that had belonged to the family.

The Schuyler Mansion was also the childhood home of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the heroine of my new historical novel I, Eliza Hamilton. The house was also the site of Eliza's marriage to Alexander Hamilton and the birth of their first child, and she continued to return to it frequently through her parents' lifetimes.

This weekend the house welcomed Schuyler Family descendants (as well as this non-family-member.) With the shutters opened to the bright autumn sunshine, the rooms and furnishings were beautiful; the 18thc Schuylers would have been proud.

While the Schuyler Mansion's visitor season is winding down, the house is open for various tours and events and by appointment throughout the year. See the house's Facebook page for more information.

Many thanks to Jessie Serfilippi for the private tour, and thanks, too, to the Friends of Schuyler Mansion and the Schuyler Family reunion for welcoming me so warmly to their events this weekend.

All photos ©2017 by Susan Holloway Scott.


Ledys said...

This is awesome, Susan! I am thoroughly enjoying all your Eliza-related posts. So glad you had fun, and thanks for the lovely peek in on this beautiful home :-)

Cynthia Lambert said...

It really is a beautiful house. I work not far from there. Glad you had a good weekend to visit.

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