Monday, August 18, 2014

Historic Huguenot Street

Accord, New York High 79 Low 52

Today we drove to the town of New Paltz. There are some old stone houses, a stone church, and a stone fort some dating from the late 1600’s. We got to go through 4 houses, but were only allowed to take pictures in two of them.

Followers of Protestant theologian John Calvin, a group of Huguenots from northern France and what is now southern Belgium sought safety from religious persecution in Europe in the 1600s, first by fleeing to die Pfalz in Germany, and then to America. In 1678, hoping to protect their religion and culture, they established a community in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York, having been granted 40,000 acres by the English government. That community grew and prospered, becoming the dynamic town of New Paltz. In 1894 the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society was founded by the descendants of the original Settlers, who lived in the houses until well into the 20th century.

Today the street is a National Historic Landmark District which includes 7 stone houses that date to the early 1700s.

The first 2 we got to visit were guided by girls in costumes of the period, the first was 1755. She played the part as if she were living in 1755. All the furnishings were from that time.

The second was supposed to be about 1855. Most of the house was decorated in that era, with the exception of the kitchen, which dated from about 1920. On the bed in the wife’s room was a bedspread quilted with what we were told was French knots. It was dated and looked very nice. Cindy was dying to take pictures inside the two houses, but wasn't allowed to do so.

The second to the last of the two, that we were allowed to photograph inside, was empty and in the process of being restored. The guide told us that it had a newer kitchen added onto the rear which had been removed. The guide told us about a time that President FDR came to visit the lady living there in about 1940. The top of the door was open and they called to the lady that lived there, who was in the back of the house, that the President of the USA was there with the Queen of Belgium to see her. She called out to them, yes and I’m the Queen of Sheba. After her embarrassment from finding out that the visitors were actually who they said they were, FDR was so gracious, that she told some friends later that he almost won her vote.

 The heart shape on the outside door was supposed to show that guests were welcome. The x's on the inside were because they were superstitious and the x's were to ward of evil spirits.

One of the original old spike in the basement of the house.

The stairway looked like a closet. The guide told us because it was enclosed, was where staircase came from.

In the last house there was an old chest with a date of 1611 on the lid. The guide told us that the owners family had donated it, and they wanted to display it even though it was not prom the period. On top of it was what he told Cindy, was a pillow used to make lace.    

The last was decorated with a lot of old furnishing, not necessarily from any particular time. We got to see a copper bowl with a notch out of part of a rim. The guide told us that it could have been used for letting some blood out of a person, using the notch to rest their arm. He then told us that it most likely was used as a shaving bowl, with the notch resting against the person’s neck.

This was a reproduction.

The pot in the center had sand in it. He told us that from cooking the floors got greasy. The slaves would use lye to clan the grease, and then scrub the floors with sand to clean the lye off. They literally sanded the floors, which they then had to sweep up.

There was a lot more to see, but this post is getting so long, that I will have to wait until tomorrow to put on more pictures.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. Great tour, almost like being back in the area.

  2. Hi - Welcome to the beautiful Hudson Valley! You need to head down to Kingston;s waterfront and take a ride on the tour boat Rip Van Winkle -- expensive, but worth the views you will get of the Hudson and shoreline. See if you can get a boat trip out to the Rondout 2 lighthouse - spectacular. Since you seem to love history museums, see if you can drive up to Catskill NY later in the week and visit the Thomas Cole Historic Site, then cross the river to visit Frederick Church's amazing home Olana near Hudson NY. Both are worth an afternoon! Keep enjoying your travels!. I'm enjoying your blog. Lynn, Kingston NY

    1. We will definitely look into going to see the two houses you mentioned. Thanks for the tip. About the boat ride, I don't do well on boats so I think we will pass on the river tour.
      Thanks, Ray

    2. It's a pretty big boat and the Hudson River is usually pretty smooth. The Hudson is so incredibly beautiful -- sorry you need to miss seeing it. Keep enjoying your travels throughout the area. Lynn Beman, Kingston NY

  3. Awesome! Now I'm going to have to drag Bill east again.