Step Back in Time at the 69th Annual Stone House Day in Hurley

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    Once a year some of the oldest houses in Hurley, N.Y. throw open their doors and celebrate the town’s history with Stone House Day.

    This year visitors will get a glimpse inside a few of the private stone dwellings that give the town its charming character on Saturday, July 13.

    If you’ve never visited before, you might think you’ve entered a quaint restoration village when you saunter down the town’s Main Street. The narrow roadway of the town center is lined with centuries-old stone dwellings with picture-perfect dormers, shutters and Dutch doors. But, while they may look like museum pieces plopped in place for maximum old house viewing pleasure, they are actually original to Hurley and still mostly private residences.

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    Hurley in 1854. Map of Ulster County by Oliver J. Tillson via Library of Congress

    The town was settled by the Dutch as Nieuw Dorp around 1661 in an area that was home to the Esopus tribe. Conflicts between the Dutch and the Esopus, known as the Esopus Wars, resulted in the destruction of the small settlement. Within a few years the area became an English colony, just like the rest of what was known as New Netherlands, and the town, now called Hurley, was rebuilt. It was largely an agricultural community in the 17th and 18th centuries, with houses constructed of the native limestone found in Ulster County.

    In their 1942 book, “Historic Houses of The Hudson Valley,” authors Harold Donaldson Eberlein and Cortlandt Van Dyke Hubbard described Hurley as having “slumbered on through its nearly three centuries of existence; tucked away as it were, in a backwater past which the swirling eddies of modern progress have raced heedlessly of its presence.”

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    A house on Main Street circa 1930s. Photo via Library of Congress

    For historic house lovers, this tucked-away quality proved a bonus, leaving a significant cluster of stone houses still surviving in the original town setting.

    Because of the sheer number of houses and their significance in reflecting the Dutch influence in the Hudson Valley, the houses were included in the Hurley Historic District, declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961. The historic district includes over 20 houses on Main Street as well as two houses a bit further afield from the center of town.

    It’s always the second Saturday in July that Hurley celebrates this heritage with Stone House Day. This year’s 69th annual event takes place on Saturday, July 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to several private homes being open for touring, the day-long event includes a 1777 Ulster Militia encampment, craft demonstrations and a library fair and book sale.

    Tickets are $18 for adults, $13.50 for seniors and students and $1.80 for children age 6-12. For more information about the day and to purchase tickets visit their event page here.

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