Anyone who has ever traveled north from Hudson on Route 66 has noticed it: a curiously old and frail-looking house situated at the edge of the Dutch Village Trailer Park.
It is the Jan Van Hoesen House, believed to have been built sometime between 1715 and 1724 for Jan Van Hoesen and his wife, Tanneke Witbeck. The couple's initials--T I V H--are worked into a masonry monogram in the gable wall of the house.
Jan, who was born in 1687 and married in 1711, was the grandson of Jan Franse Van Hoesen, who in 1662 purchased a large tract of land from the Mohicans--the land on which Hudson and a large part of what is now Greenport are located. Van Hoesen descendants were among the folks who sold land to Thomas and Seth Jenkins in 1783, on which they founded the city of Hudson.
Needless to say the house is of great historic significance--for its age and its association with people who played a role in Hudson's history and because it is a rare surviving example of kind of rural house that was characteristic of the upper Hudson Valley in the first half of the 18th century, a half-century before the American Revolution. So, when a reader contacted me earlier this week to share a rumor he'd heard that the new owner of the trailer park--and the historic house as well--considered the house a liability and wanted it moved or demolished, I set out to investigate further, with the intention of raising the alarm on behalf of the house if the rumor were true or quelling the anxiety if it were not true.
My quest for information led me to historian Ruth Piwonka, who provided an introduction to Ed Klingler, the president of the Van Hoesen House Historical Foundation. Klingler assured me that most of what I had heard was "speculation and rumor." He told me that he has been working with the new owner of the trailer park (and the house) since February to develop a plan to preserve the house in its current and historic location. The first step is to construct a security fence around to structure "to alleviate his insurance company's liability concerns." Through the summer, work will be done to stabilize the porch and other elements of the building's envelope. Under discussion, too, is the possibility of the Van Hoesen House Historical Foundation (VHHHF) assuming official stewardship of the house, either by a lease agreement or ownership. Klingler stressed that the new owner of property has a genuine interest in saving the house and concluded, "Now it's up to all of us who care deeply about its preservation to step up and do just that."
VHHHF is planning to launch a major fund-raising campaign in the fall. In the meantime, contributions to the protection and preservation of the three-hundred-year-old house can be made to Van Hoesen House Historical Foundation, PO Box 254, Claverack, NY 12513. VHHHF is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CAROLE OSTERINK