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Showing several of Americas Oldest Private Homes
Stone House Day
Stone House Day at Hurley, New York
May 24, 2016
For Immediate Release
The “Tootsie” house, the 1750’s farm house in Dustin Hoffman’s 1972 classic movie, will be opened
Settled in 1661, the hamlet for the
Tootsie house visitors —three minutes on a free bus— will see the piano that Hoffman played and the lawn swing featured in a scene with Charles Durning, as “Les.”
Making of the movie was an eye-opener for residents. They learned that the upstairs bedroom was reproduced —down to the molding around the ceiling— in a Long Island studio because the Hurley ceiling was too low for the needed lights and microphones.
Baby Amy, the daughter of a local church member, became a ”star” because the “professional” baby was too big by the time of the filming. The horse belonged to the church’s pastor and the tractor to a nearby farmer.
No expense was spared. A doll to be used for a stand-in for Amy was brought by taxi 100 miles from F.A.O. Schwartz toy store in Manhattan then found to be not right. A doll offered by the homeowner was found to be an acceptable substitute.
And a musket shot from the traditional white colonial church at the end of Main Street, the Hurley Mountain Inn welcomes travelers who can see where the movie’s country bar scenes were filmed.
Exciting times, but twenty years earlier on the 300th anniversary of the Dutch settlement residents were agape when Netherlands’ Queen Wilhelmina visited and received a royal welcome.
Centuries ago, in 1662, Peter Stuvesant had the settlement surveyed and laid out in plots. Known for his acquisitiveness, he reserved lots in the center of the village for himself with others assigned to friends and officials, some from Fort Orange, now Albany. The meager settlement’s few dwellings were officially named “Nieuw Dorp,” New Village.
A year later, tragedy. A band of Indian braves. angered by Stuyvesant’s sale of young men into slavery, attacked the settlements of Esopus (now Kingston) and the new village, murdering a number of men, burning the villages to the ground, and abducting more than thirty women and children.
They were rescued miles away and months later unharmed, except for one young woman who had married a captor and declined to be saved.
Just months later, in 1664, the despised English took over the entire Dutch colony. The burghers in Esopus briefly considered armed resistance but thought better of it recognizing its futility.
A hundred years pass till October 1777, more violence. British redcoats, aboard ships en route to Saratoga to join other British troops coming down from Canada, landed in Kingston and set that thriving village ablaze again. In the ensuing chaotic hours hundreds of fleeing residents found refuge in Hurley; and the State government in Kingston, the first capital, moved to a 1740’s home on Hurley’s Main Street. Owned by antique dealers, the once temporary State Capitol is furnished with a variety of colonial era antiques in their natural habitat and is one of the open homes Stone House Day.
A few steps down the street, sightseers in the 1685 Spy House. also open, will marvel at the huge beams, 20-inch-wide ceiling boards and window panes showing the bubbles and wrinkles of their old age. Hours after Kingston was torched a British spy held in the house was hanged on an apple tree across the street. The destruction of Kingston, the death of the spy, and the plight of the refugees were all in vain. Braddock had lost his battle at Saratoga and had surrendered his army a day before.
Some of the other old homes are kept in reasonably original condition; others were brought more or less up to date depending on owners’ wishes over time. Some display furniture and treasures handed down for generations; so sightseers find all the homes are different and interesting. Six of the pre-Revolutionary War homes and the Hurley Heritage Society’s mid-1700’s museum —no charge— are within a 200-yard walking distance on the town’s 1/4 mile-long Main street where none of the homes are under 80 years old. Free buses take visitors on a few minutes ride to the other two.
Numerous free demonstrations of colonial crafts and street events are offered. A 1777 militia encampment and activities, wreath makers, children’s corn husk dolls, a Sojourner Truth speech and interview, three musical performances, Library Book sale, and several antique shops are featured. The Ulster County Genealogical Society will be present to assist in family research, and the 1600’s cemetery attracts many, hoping to find an ancestor’s grave site. Perhaps most interesting will be a professional play, Voices from the Nieuw Dorp, about the mid-1600’s in the new village. A “World Premier” opening!
Tour hours of the treasured homes are
Hurley is four minutes from NYS Thruway I-87 exit 19 at Kingston on Route 209 south, 90 minutes from New Jersey, 50 from Albany, and 120 from Times Square. For more information see StoneHouseDay.org.
For a weekend trip, FDR’s residence and Library and the popular State Park, “Walkway over the Hudson,” are 45 minutes away, and West Point about 75. The Vanderbilt mansion and others built by America’s business tycoons are open and within an hour’s drive. Boat trips on the Hudson, the first capitol of New York, the Hudson River Maritime Museum, the Trolley Museum, and Woodstock, and the Ashokan reservoir, New York City’s major water supplier, are less than 25 minutes.
The Catskill Mountains rise on the village’s edge and walking trails abound— something for everyone in this historic and lovely New York State area.
—Don Kent, 845-338-2283, Stone House Day committee
Publicity photos shown below are 1800x1200 pixels (6"x4" at 300 dpi), CMYK format
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