Monday, September 18, 2017

A Rare Opportunity Approaches

Twenty years ago, in August 1997, Historic Hudson, in existence then for only a year, arranged a field trip for its members to the Dr. Oliver Bronson House. It was the first time in more than two decades that the public had seen the house, off limits as it was--and still is--on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility.

That visit marked the beginning of Historic Hudson's advocacy for the house. In the ensuing years, Historic Hudson foiled an attempt to site a factory on the grounds, helped get the house designated as a National Historic Landmark, got the enabling legislation passed to enter into a long-term lease agreement with the State of New York, negotiated that lease, and has since succeeded in stabilizing the house and securing it from further deterioration. With another $487,000 in grant money awarded last December, Historic Hudson is poised to begin Phase III of its restoration plan for the house.

This year, to mark the anniversary of bringing attention to the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, Historic Hudson is planning a field trip to another significant historic house rarely open to the public: the Jan Van Hoesen House in Claverack. The field trip, for Historic Hudson members and their guests, takes place on Sunday, October 1, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Although the Dr. Oliver Bronson House is hidden away on the grounds of a prison, the Van Hoesen House stands in plain sight at the edge of a trailer park on Route 66, but many who pass it every day know neither its history nor its current situation. The event on October 1 will offer an opportunity to see inside the three-hundred-year-old Dutch house and learn about plans for its stabilization and restoration.

Although it was built fifty years before the founding of Hudson, the Jan Van Hoesen House has a historic connection to our city. In 1662, Jan Frans Van Hoesen, Jan Van Hoesen's grandfather, purchased a substantial tract of land from the Mohicans--along the river and upland. Franklin Ellis, writing in 1878 in the History of Columbia County, says of this purchase: "It is not probable that in selecting this domain he was moved by any other considerations than that of its agricultural advantages, nor that during all the years of his occupancy he ever dreamed of future cities, or commerce, or manufactures, or thought of the capabilities of the great river beyond the floating of the little sloops that carried to market the products of his fertile bouwerie which lay farther inland."

Ellis goes on to explain what happened to all this land when Jan Frans Van Hoesen died: 
The old patentee died about the year 1703, and among the children he left were Jurrien, Jacob Jans, Johannes, and Catharine, which last named was the wife of Francis Hardick. By the law of primogeniture, which was then in operation, the eldest son, Jurrien, inherited the landed estate, but he appears to have had no inclination to wrong the other heirs, and so an amicable partition was agreed to; and on Jan. 7, 1704, he conveyed by deeds to his brothers and sister the lands lying on and near the river, which were probably regarded by all as being less valuable than those lying farther back and nearer to Claverack Creek.
Catharine inherited North Bay and all the land on which Hudson is situated north of Partition Street; Johannes inherited South Bay and all the land that is now Hudson south of Partition Street. Johannes apparently also inherited the land on which the Jan Van Hoesen House is built and transferred title to that property to his son Jan sometime around 1711.

Photo: Jill McKenty

Like the field trip to the Bronson House twenty years ago, Historic Hudson's field trip to the Van Hoesen House is meant to raise awareness of the house and encourage support for its restoration. But unlike twenty years ago, Historic Hudson will not be stepping up to become the stewards of the Van Hoesen House. A not-for-profit already exists with that mission: the Van Hoesen House Historical Foundation. Historic Hudson is just trying to help that organization reach a wider audience.

The field trip to the Van Hoesen House, situated on the edge of the Dutch Village Mobile Home Park, 440 Route 66, is also the occasion of Historic Hudson's annual meeting. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but limited to members of Historic Hudson and their guests. To become a member, visit   


  1. Free but limited to the members of Historic Hudson in which a paid membership is required. Hmmm... "Ok, O.J." How about they have a real "open house" open to oh I dont know, John Q Public and seek donations. Probably have a bigger turn out. Kind of quid pro qou ish dont ya think? I find this especially ironic beings how its located in Claverack, yet in order to view it I must be a "friend of hudson" at this specfic event date and time. Seems like The Friends of Hudson are seeking to boost membership, not help an organization "gain a wider audience". "Excuse me, Waiter! Another glass of Kool Aide please!"

    1. Thank you, Historic Hudson, for taking the opportunity of your annual meeting for advancing awareness of this fantastic building. Since the house is on private land, owned by people who aren't involved in the house's preservation, I'm sure those occasions are very limited. Maybe people will join more not for profit preservation groups if they have an interest in saving landmarks like this. It takes large sums of money, expertise and organization to get something like this done. And a positive, can-do attitude. (I'm not connected with any of these groups, but I do know what efforts have been done so far in connection to the Van Hoesen House. They far outweigh what it took for you to type that snarky comment).

  2. On another note, thank you Carole for the brief overview about the house and its history.

  3. Like the branches of a tree, the Van Hoesen family spread far and wide. My wife's father Robert (Bob) Gene Van Huss is now in his 90's living in Wichita, Kansas. His particular branch of the family, made its journey from New York to Pennsylvania, down to North Carolina, then to Virginia, then Tennessee, and in the 1870's to Kansas.

  4. I am a direct decedent of Jan Frans Van Hoesen, through the Van Hoesens that ended up in Clay, NY. Jan Frans is my 11th great grandfather! I would love a tour of the house!!