Historic house tour along “The First Highway” in New Paltz

Each year, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT) conducts its popular and well researched “Houses on the Land” Historic House Tour, and each year the sites visited are thematically linked and impressive. The seventh annual iteration of this educational fundraising event, taking place on Saturday, June 3, is titled “The First Highway: Huguenot Homesteads from New Paltz to Bontecoe.”

Marking the 30th anniversary of WVLT’s founding, this year’s house tour will explore the legacy of New Paltz’s first Huguenot settlers – the Duzine, or Patentees – and their families’ expansion northward along the eastern banks of the Wallkill River to Bontecoe on the Esopus border. Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) will offer a special orientation and exhibition at the DuBois Fort, designed especially for this occasion, as well as a private visit to one of its stone houses rarely open to the public. The tour presents seven of the town’s most unusual and important houses and farms, dating from the early 18th century to the mid-20th, built by Huguenot descendants or upon Huguenot lands. They include examples of early stone houses, a modern interpretation of a Federal-style stone dwelling in the Dutch tradition, a Greek Revival brick beauty, a fanciful manor house and a soaring barn converted to modern living.

Side trips will interpret Huguenot Street’s evolution, including the story of the Reformed Church, its three manses and the choirmaster’s house. In addition, the African-American experience in New Paltz will be explored through HHS’s exhibition on a former slave named John Hasbrouck, the slave cellar at the Abraham Hasbrouck House, New Paltz houses by the late-19th-century builder/architect Jacob Wynkoop and the African-American Burial Ground.

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Registration will be held at the Reformed Church at 92 Huguenot Street, followed by special experiences planned by Historic Huguenot Street from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registrants may park in the Reformed Church and Deyo Hall parking lots on Broadhead Avenue. Tour houses will be open from 11 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., with a reception and wine-tasting from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at a private farm on the Land Trust’s first easement.

Tickets cost $50 general admission, $45 for WVLT members on the day of the tour. Proceeds benefit WVLT’s land preservation efforts.

To register, call (845) 255-2761 or visit www.wallkillvalleylt.org.