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VH Forum- House and Genealogy

Description of Van Hoesen House
From National Historic Register Nomination Form, March 1979 (Full PDF Download)
by Ruth Piwonka

The Van Hoesen house is located on the first elevation of land that rises approximately twenty feet above a principal flat on the east side of Claverack Creek on State Route 66. In early times, the approach to the house was from the southwest and northeast on a local road that led to nearby Claverack Landing (later city of Hudson) on the Hudson River. The present back-side of the house was once clearly intended as the facade. Five openings of equal width, height, and spacing are indicated on this facade. These openings are marked by gauged flat arches in the masonry. The flat arches are prominent and high and made unusually decorative through the use of red vertical stretchers alternating with blackened klinker headers. Documentary references to such patterned, brickwork indicate that such design worked in colored brick was not unusual; however, these flat arches are a rare, if not unique, survivor of such decorative technique. All the openings are altered from their original form--the most obvious detail being that all have been made smaller or changed function.

The easterly gable presently contains five windows and a door. The main floor window and door are later additions. The second floor windows are alterations of windows in these positions and one shows evidence of the early window frame. The granary windows are original openings. The principal feature of this gable end are initials of the first occupants of the house worked in black klinker headers in the masonry. This is the only surviving example in the region of this type of monogramming in the masonry from the 1715-1750 period. Several examples from the 1760s are well known. The informative monogram provides the initials of Jan van Hoesen and his wife Tanneke, as well as helps establish an approximate construction date for the house.

The present front of the house is covered with stucco which hides details of seaming and the possible presence of gauged flat arches. Above the window to the immediate left of the center doorway, some of the stucco is detached and there is clear indication that no vertical brick pattern was used (or that the window may have been added). The original positioning of openings on this side of the house may be represented by the present four windows and door primarily because the height of them is the same and of a proportion appropriate to the placement of windows and doors in other Dutch houses. The presence of an original (or very early) crown molding over the center doorway probably represents the moving of a piece to this side of the house when the front and back were reversed. Two original cellar entries on this southeasterly side of the house indicate the functional nature of the cellar.

The southwesterly gable wall contains' a most-important surviving feature: the thin engaged chimney flue that enabled occupants of the house to benefit from fireplaces in the cellar and on the main floor. This is a rare intact example of such construction although from contracts, and from physical evidence in other dwellings, it is known to have been a common feature in houses of this type. The doorway at the corner which leads to the cellar kitchen kitchen is original as are the garret and granary window openings and frames. The sashes are not original.

Wrought iron fleur-de-lis beam anchors on both gables and iron gutter hangers are distinctive surviving features. The tin roof is a later replacement for the likely shingled--or possibly tile roof that was originally on the house.

Interior features of the house include a central hall or passageway with exits at each end that are not centered. Although unheated passageways or entry chambers (probably deriving from the Dutch urban voorhuis chambers) are common to Albany County houses, the centered position of this particular passageway is an unusual survivor and should not be construed as a center-hall arrangement. The enclosed paneled stairway in the hall is an excellent surviving example of the type originally built in these houses. It is an important model and document. Polychrome decorations painted on the door frame and frame to the northwest room off the hall survive and are another rare and significant document of Dutch colonial taste . The mantle piece on the first floor dates from the Federal period. The partitioning of the westerly room is not original and the partitioning of the garret (second floor) i s a later addition. Originally the garret was reserved for open storage space.

The house's location on a high rise of land above broad fertile creek flats conforms to a pattern of situating houses in Albany County between 1715 and 1750. The house also conforms to another rural pattern by having its main entries in the side walls and its chimneys in the gables. In urban houses this arrangement was reversed.