You’ve probably driven by the Bevier House, headquarters of the Ulster County Historical Society (UCHS), dozens of times: It’s the foursquare stone house with the hipped roof that you pass heading south from Kingston toward Stone Ridge on Route 209. Though much altered and expanded over the subsequent centuries, the original house dates from 1682 and was deeded to trader and hellraiser Kit Davis (he got in trouble with the Colonial Dutch authorities for selling alcohol to the Native Americans). It was later bought by Louis Bevier, one of the original Huguenot patentees of New Paltz, whose descendants updated and renovated the house in 1870, adding a veranda and widow’s walk and a broad stairway in the hall.
Today, the only section of the house that looks Colonial is the kitchen, but it’s actually fake: a 1853 recreation by architect Myron Teller that included the addition of Dutch-style heavy beams and built-in cupboards. But that in no way undermines the fascination of the house, which was donated to the UCHS by the Bevier family in 1937. Besides the furnished rooms, predominantly Victorian, it contains the most extensive collection of farm and homestead equipment in the region, an impressive collection of Civil War artifacts and paintings by local 19th-century artists Julia Dillon and Jervis McEntee.
One could easily spend a couple of hours perusing the eclectic fascinations of the house, which was continuously lived in by the Bevier family for 223 years. And now not just adults but also children have an opportunity to connect with the deep history of Ulster County by attending “A Children’s Christmas,” held at the Bevier House this Saturday, November 26 between 12 noon and 3 p.m. There’ll be hands-on period crafts, hot chocolate and caroling, and St. Nicholas will pay a visit. Tickets are $5, and reservations are required; call (845) 338-5614 or visit www.bevierhousemuseum.org for more information.