|Business Type: Historic Homes & Estates|
1042 Route 94
Vails Gate, 12584
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Restored 1755 stone house, blacksmith shop, slave quarters and exhibits. General Arthur St. Clair stayed at house during Revolutionary War. FREE, donations accepted.
James Edmonston, a blacksmith, emigrated with his wife Margaret, from County Tyrone, Ireland, to Plymouth, Mass. in 1720. He found his way to Orange County, New York where he purchased two hundred acres from Widow Ingoldsby in 1727. On his land he built a log cabin; it was the only structure between that part of New Windsor and Washingtonville with the exception of numerous Indian wigwams. The two children of James and Margaret were born in the cabin. William, the only son, built the stone house in 1755 and a number of years later made an addition on to the eastern end. William married Jane Sutherland and they had four daughters and three sons. When William died in 1803 his will revealed that the house was left to his four daughters. This may explain why the house was divided into two separate residences.
At the time of the American Revolution both James and William were too old for military service. William, however, carted wood for the army and, having been a long-time resident of the area, was asked to accompany George Washington and Col. Timothy Pickering in selecting a camp for the soldiers. It is claimed that he opened the large door of the east kitchen and pointed to a trail due north of his property and that area did indeed become "The Last Encampment" of the Continental Army. The Edmonston House was used as a medical headquarters and hospital store and quartered General Gates and General Arthur St. Claire for a time. Dr. Thatcher quoted in his journal a dinner he enjoyed at Edmonston House on December 15, 1782, where "our entertainment was ample and elegant." Within the months that followed the soldiers dug up most of William's potatoes and helped themselves to fifteen of his hogs. All-in-all the Edmonston family provided much to the benefit of the army.
As the years passed the house existed in its divided state and was occupied by numerous decendents. When the house was sold in 1903 the buyer purchased both sections and broke down the wall between them. Great deterioration began to occur over time. Starting in 1928, the building was used as a commercial store for used car parts; dilapidated cars surrounded the property. Electricity, heat and water were installed.
In 1960, COL Frederick Todd, a member of the National Temple Hill Association, purchased the house and some of the land. The Edmonston House was restored after much research and the assistance of architect Raymond F. Ruge. The exterior walls, interior woodwork, stairs and some of the flooring are original. Old materials were used where replacement was necessary.
The National Temple Hill Association became the owner in 1971. Some of the items in the rooms are memorials contributed by association benefactors. An 18th century chest was purchased in 1976 as part of the Marion Mailler Memorial Collection along with an early 18th century tavern table, a rush seat chair and a restored Windsor chair. The Queen corner cupboard is a Hudson Valley piece given by the Hilma Robinson estate in 1982. Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Shaw donated the Robert Burnet Collection (including his original desk) displayed on the second floor of the house.
Two outbuildings have been reconstructed on the property. One is a blacksmith shop, appropriate to the trade of James Edmonston. The second is a stone building, representing a slave quarters that was moved from an estate further east. The Edmonstons were slave owners.
Members of the National Temple Hill Association serve as guides. The house is open for visitors on Sundays during the summer months. Come visit this lovely stone house which is on the National Register of Historic Houses.
Hours of Operation
Open July thru September on Sundays from 2 to 5.