Flatbush hamlet is focus of Saugerties Historic House Tour this Saturday

Watercolor of the Benjamin Ten Broeck house by Nancy Campbell.

Ever wonder how your own history is intertwined with the places around you? One way to find out is to go on the fourth annual Saugerties Historic House Tour this Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour will focus on eight locations within Flatbush, a lesser-known hamlet of Ulster County bordered by the Hudson River on the east, a limestone ridge on the west and extending from East Kingston on the south to Glasco on the north.

“It’s going to be quite eclectic this year,” says Susan Puretz, member of the Town of Saugerties Historic Preservation Commission committee organizing the tour with assistance from Town of Ulster historian Rob Sweeney. “We have a mix of private houses, both stone and wood, as well as a church, a replica of an ice house with antique tools and some unusual barns,” she adds. “There will even be some side events, like an encampment by the First Ulster Militia.”

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The structures on the tour range in date of construction from the early 18th century to the late 19th century. Participants can expect to see an original “yard office” from the Washburn brickyards; a stone building with ten windows of 60 panes each; an 1812-date stone with detailed inscription; a glazed-tile silo; a basement bank-house kitchen; ice-harvesting tools; and vintage vehicles.

The Historic Preservation Commission will provide an informational booklet to tour participants describing how the buildings and sites for this year’s tour were chosen to illustrate the different facets of life in Flatbush and the industries that provided employment there. The motivation to choose Flatbush for this year’s tour came from a memoir published in 1979 by Harry Carle. In the book, Carle recounts his tales of growing up in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the Hudson River played an important role in community’s life as the brick and ice industries flourished along the river banks. Two of the sites featured on the Flatbush tour served as homes for prominent brickyard owners.

“I see the tour as an opportunity to introduce a variety of structures and places to a wider audience, in the hope that they will both enjoy and appreciate the beauty and value of these local historical treasures,” says Puretz. “This tour should have something to interest everyone.”

A featured site is the Benjamin Ten Broeck house at the southern end of Flatbush, considered one of the more historically important houses in the Hudson Valley. It was built in 1751 for Johannes Maximilian Velde (Felten), a descendant of Palatine refugees who came to the Hudson Valley in 1710. Benjamin Ten Broeck purchased the house from the Velde (Felten) family in 1804, and his descendants lived there until 1869. The stone house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, has been meticulously restored and is a prime example of New World Dutch vernacular architecture.

Tickets on the day of the tour will cost $25, available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the QuickChek Station on Route 9W near the intersection with Route 32, the starting point of the self-guided driving tour. A booklet with maps, directions and descriptions will be given to each tour participant as he or she checks in.

Boxed lunches prepared by the Flatbush Reformed Church Women are available for $10 and must be ordered in advance. Lunches will be ready for pickup at the church between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the day of the tour. Puretz says that having the women of the Church prepare box lunches is in keeping with the spirit of the tour, “emblematic of the social fabric of the community,” she says.

More than 30 volunteers will be at the sites to assist visitors. For more information, visit www.historichousetour.com or call (845) 246-2800, ext. 470.

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