Some of us round the curve on State Route 209 south of Hurley twice a day, on our way to Kingston and home again. We might glance now and then at the stalwart stone structure with the signage indicating its historical significance – Bevier House – and once a year we might catch a reenactment taking place on the lawn. This Saturday, June 27 is the opportunity to pull the car off the road and stop in, when the Ulster County Historical Society commemorates the 312th anniversary of Marbletown. Currently the Town includes seven hamlets tucked into the hills and valleys of the Catskills foothills: Marbletown, Stone Ridge, Cottekill, Lomontville, Vly-Atwood, Kripplebush and High Falls.
By the time Queen Anne of England granted the Town of Marbletown a land patent on the 23rd of June in 1703, Hurley had been occupied by settlers for 30 years, primarily by decommissioned British soldiers who took up farming. Each soldier received ten morgans of lowland and 15 morgans of upland. What’s a morgan, you wonder? One morgan was roughly two acres. The rich soil near the Rondout and Esopus Creeks was perfect for growing the crops that would get shipped down the Hudson River to the Colonial city of New York.
The Bevier House, now headquarters for the Ulster County Historical Society, was constructed around 1680 and was purchased by Louis Bevier, Jr. in 1715, shortly after Marbletown was patented. The Bevier family used the house and farm for the next 224 years through seven generations. In 1938, it was donated to the Historical Society, which has worked to preserve the structure and add to the permanent collection of significant furnishings and items from the past.
On Founders’ Day, visitors to the House can view this collection, which includes a newly created exhibit, “Food Storage of the 17th– 19th Centuries,” focusing on rare pieces found in the J. P. Remensnyder Pottery and Domestic Wares collection; the Will Plank Civil War collection; and the Tool Collection of Peter Sinclair. Also on view will be a replica of the Town stamp, designed and made by New York silversmith Jacob Boelen (1657-1729), depicting a deer and sheaves of wheat to represent the bounty of nearby forests and farms.
The original stamp has been part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City since 1933, when it was donated by the family of Alphonso Clearwater, then Town attorney. Clearwater had used the stamp in his official capacity and was coincidentally an amateur silver collector. Its inclusion in the family’s donation at Clearwater’s death is an issue that the Town of Marbletown continues to oppose. Town officials hope to retrieve the original stamp when Library reconstruction is completed and security requirements put forward by the Met are satisfied.
The third annual Founders’ Day Celebration will be held at the Bevier House from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., with a fun and informative lineup of other activities for visitors to enjoy. Festivities will include a farmers’ market put on by the Rondout Valley Growers’ Association, linking the area’s history as “the breadbasket for an emerging nation” as far back as the 18th century to the reemerging importance of local food sustainability. Visitors can see a photography exhibit by Jim Smith, and enjoy the award-winning floral displays by local floral designer Dianne Hart. There will be a children’s craft activity, planting herb seeds and making butter, sponsored by the Stone Ridge Library.
Professor emeritus Bill Rhoads from the Art History Department of SUNY-New Paltz will give a talk on the architecture of Marbletown in the 18th and 19th centuries at 10:30 a.m. in the dining room of the Bevier House. At 2 p.m., Gail Many, the Town’s historian, will speak on Marbletown personalities of the same period.
Sevan Melikyan, director of the Wired Gallery in High Falls, has curated the works of 20 local artists for an art exhibit and sale on the Bevier House grounds. Featured paintings, sculptures and photographs done by Denise Aumick, Brinton Baker, Jane Brown, Bruce Bundock, Nancy Catandella, Tom Dinchuk, Larry Friedberg, Katie Grove, Robyn Henry, Warren Hurley, Bud Lavery, Mickie MacMillan, Marilyn Richter, Renee Rosenberg, Marilynn Rowley, Kaete Brittin Shaw, Jim Smith, Judy Stanger, Claudia Waruch and Betty Wilde-Biasiny will be included in the show.
An all-’round display of local talent, history and wares hallmarking the Rondout Valley will make for a memorable and fitting celebration. Founders’ Day is sponsored by the Town of Marbletown and will in part benefit the Stone Ridge Library through funds raised in the art sale and vendor sales.
Founders’ Day Celebration, Saturday, June 27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free, Bevier House, 2687 Route 209, Marbletown; (845) 338-5614, https://ulstercountyhs.org.