Hurley is home to more than 25 Colonial-era stone houses, ten of them situated within a quarter-mile of each other on its tree-lined Main Street, now designated a National Historic Landmark District. On the 63rd annual Hurley Stone House Day on Saturday, July 13, nine of the venerable stone structures will open their doors to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The homes date from 1685 to 1786, and are all lived-in and privately owned. It’s a chance to admire the period details, the massive beams and the old rippled window glass, and to examine the hand-forged hardware, multiple fireplaces and other Colonial features. Each house will have its own Colonial-costumed guide, so visitors may spend as little or as much time as they wish to in each house. The homes on Main Street are all within a 150-yard walking distance; most are accessible with one or two steps or ramps; and the homes off Main Street will be available via a shuttle bus. Main Street will be blocked off to traffic.
Stone House Day also offers a number of free attractions. There will be Colonial rifle demonstrations by the Third Ulster County Militia reenactors, who along with their wives will answer questions about what life in a military camp was like. A group will perform 18th-century-era music, and a variety of crafting opportunities and demos will be offered, from candle-dipping to forming tin candleholders and cornhusk dolls. Spinners and weavers will demonstrate how fabrics were made in the Colonial era, and a blacksmith will show how household items were crafted.
Then there’s the annual Library Fair with hundreds of books for sale, and a stirring reenactment of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, honoring the famous civil rights leader, evangelist and abolitionist who hailed from what was then part of the Town of Hurley before being freed when New York emancipated its slaves in 1828.
Tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the tour at the Hurley Reformed Church, where there is free parking. The cost is $20 for adults (or two adults for $35) or $15 for seniors and students, and tickets include a $2 discount coupon for homemade food served all day long in a cafeteria set up at Schadewald Hall at the Hurley Reformed Church at 11 Main Street. Tickets for children ages 6 to 12 cost $2, and kids age 5 and under get in free. All attractions, tours and the shuttle bus are included in the ticket prices, and the event goes on rain or shine.
Among the open houses every year is the 1740 Van Deusen House, the temporary capital of New York after the British torched Kingston in 1777, and the 1685 Van Etten/Dumond (Spy) House, where a British spy was held before being hanged on an apple tree across the street in retaliation for Kingston’s destruction. The Jonathan Crispell House was built in 1725, remaining in the family until it was sold to the Hurley Reformed Church in 1836 for use as a parsonage. The Dr. Richard Ten Eyck House, built in 1786 and the first two-story home in Hurley, was reputed to have been a stop on the Underground Railway.
The Elmendorf House on Main Street, built around 1710, now houses the Hurley Heritage Society Museum. It will be open on Stone House Day, along with the Ulster County Genealogical Society, which has its offices in the 1853 church. The Society attracts many visitors trying to trace their Dutch lineage, and the 300-year-old burial ground also draws many who look for family names on the aged, weathered stones.
Hurley Stone House Day, Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., $20/$15/$2; (845) 331-4121, www.stonehouseday.org & on Facebook.