|Business Type: Civil War|
The Ulster County Historical Society was originally founded in 1859, largely through the efforts of State Senator George W. Pratt. Pratt, as Commanding Colonel of the 80th Regiment, NYSV, was killed in action at the second Battle of Bull Run in 1862. From that date, the Society became more or less dormant until revived by an enthusiastic group of citizens, under the prodding of Judge GVD Hasbrouck, in 1930. Displays and exhibits. Open June thru September on Wednesdays thru Sundays from 1 to 5.
The museum is housed in the former Bevier House, the origins of which date back to the 17th Century. The transformation of the now large stone house, known as the Bevier House, from the first settlers dwelling to the present substantial structure is unfortunately almost completely lacking in documentation. Hardly a single date bearing on its construction can be verified. But from research by Myron Teller, Louis Bevier and Kenneth Hasbrouck we do know something of its appearance at two different periods.
Andries Pieterse Van Leuvan, whose wife was the daughter of "Kit" Davis (an early settler; and interpreter and principal mediator with the Indians at Esopus), evidently obtained the land from the Indians. Although the title was not confirmed until some years later, Val Leuvan built a house early in the 1680's. This was probably a one room, one storey stone building which is now the kitchen. It was next owned by his son, Peter Van Leuven who sold it in 1715 to Louis Bevier the son of the New Paltz Patentee. By this time the house had grown considerably for in 1711 Peter Van Leuven was assessed for "four chimneys and one slave and 110 pounds of taxable property."
The farm was handed down in the Bevier family from father to son and during the tenure of David Bevier (1746 - 1822) in a Marbletown tax list of 1798, the house was described as being 64 ft. x 29 ft. in size with an addition 47 ft. x 15 ft., and contained ten windows varying in size. It was one and one-half storeys in height. At this time the house had apparently changed little since the purchase in 1715. It was a typical Dutch farmhouse although somewhat larger than most. From available information it is somewhat difficult to reconcile the number of chimneys and windows with the archaeological evidence.
From this period, family tradition and evidence presented by the present structure do not agree. But then family traditions are notoriously unreliable. That David Bevier built an entirely new house using some parts of the original structure in 1800, after a disastrous fire is not supported by a careful study conducted by Myron Teller. Whether or not there was a fire is questionable but since much of the construction and detail date from the late 17th and early 18th centuries, it is improbable that the early house was destroyed. But certainly sometime during the early 19th century, the house was greatly enlarged and raised to two full storeys. At this time an icehouse was incorporated in the basement of the added portion. However, evidence such as cut bluestone window sills and lintels as well as the removal of the chimneys and fireplaces point to a date considerably later than 1800. Whenever this transformation took place, the early Dutch farmhouse became the gracious building it is today and except for the removal of the main staircase, remains structurally as the Bevier family developed it and presented it to the Society in 1938.
Between 1715 and 1938 the Beviers, generation after generation, operated the large farm and were active in government affairs. David Bevier was an officer in the Revolutionary War. The last generation to occupy the house had several members prominent in education including Louis Bevier, Vi who was Dean of Rutgers College.
Unfortunately, before the Bevier family decided to donate the family homestead to the Ulster County Historical Society their entire possessions of over two centuries and several generations had been dispersed. However, through gifts from generous friends and members the house is again completely furnished. The first major contribution was the Elting collection of Victoriana which furnishes the large north room on the first floor, used by the Bevier family as a summer parlor. In the dining room, which was the winter parlor, are some fine pieces presented by the Late James Groote Vanderpool. In the kitchen there is a superior collection of Hudson Valley Dutch furniture and accessories and in the scullery a notable collection of early tools, both of which were donated and installed by former President, John Paul Remensnyder. The latest acquisition is a large portion of the Civil War collection of Will and Elizabeth Plank, housed in a room on the second floor. Some fine paintings and portraits, as well as various pieces of furniture and ceramics from generous members, round out the collection.
Hours of Operation
June through October.