You might think you’ve entered a quaint restoration village when you saunter down Main Street in Hurley in Ulster County, N.Y.
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.
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.”
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.
Once a year, on the second Saturday in July, Hurley celebrates its heritage with Stone House Day, a day of sneak peeks into the historic interiors. This year’s 68th annual tour takes place on Saturday, July 14, when about eight private homes, all pre-dating 1786, will be open for viewing.
The day-long event also includes a 1777 Ulster Militia encampment, craft demonstrations and a library fair. There will also be a performance of ‘Ain’t I a Woman,’ a portrayal of Sojourner Truth, who was born into slavery in Hurley. You can find out more about the event and get tickets here.
If you really want a Hurley stone houses for your very own, we’ve found two currently on the market.
First up is the Hardenbergh (or Hardenburgh) House at 143 Schoolhouse Road, just a short distance from Main Street. It’s one of two houses outside of Main Street that are included in the historic district. Built circa 1750 according to the designation report, it has those picturesque Hurley details — a rough stone facade, dormers, shutters and a wide Dutch door with period-appropriate strap hinges.
In digging into the history of Hurley, this house pops up occasionally in reference to Sojourner Truth. She was born around 1797 to James and Betsey, who were enslaved in the household of a Johannes Hardenbergh. It was a fairly common name in Ulster County in the 18th century and current scholarship seems to indicate that it was not this house in which she was born, but one which burned down in the early 20th century.
Inside, the three bedroom and two bath home retains some 18th century features with some 19th and 20th century additions. In what is now the living room, there are beamed ceilings, what look like later wood floors and more modern built-ins around the wooden mantel.
There’s no massive fireplace for cooking to be found in the kitchen; it’s of more recent vintage with large modern appliances.
The listing refers to the property as a compound, and it does include more than just the main historic house. There’s a barn as well as a 1980s office space with reception area, treatment rooms and bathrooms.
The house is listed for $1.95 million by Kathleen Maxwell of Bhhs Hudson Valley Properties.
Further outside of the center of town is 476 Old Route 209. While the listing claims a construction date of circa 1663, most sources seem to cite an early 1700’s construction date.
Originally built as the Cornelis Kool House and now operated as the Stone House Bed and Breakfast, it is frequently referred to as the oldest building in New York you can sleep in — a clever way of giving a nod to the age without strictly claiming the oldest house house in New York credit. That credit usually goes to Brooklyn’s own Wyckoff Farmhouse.
The interior is packed with vintage charm, as one would expect in a Hudson Valley bed and breakfast. There are beamed ceilings, wide-planked floorboards and deep fireplaces.
There are five bedrooms, all with en suite baths. This bedroom’s got a jambless (sideless) fireplace typical of Dutch-American houses of the period — although one presumes cooking in this guest room is not encouraged.
The house is listed for $895,000 by Jeff Serouya of Bhhs Hudson Valley Properties.
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