The past need not be Prolog...


The A Van Loon House Athens
(Greene Co.) N.Y. 1724

As houses are renovated and their neighborhoods developed, the essence of their past diminishes. To capture it means focusing more closely - on evocative details. The Van Loon house has been seemingly deserted for many years yet despite neglect it survives; its craggy gable as solid as when built in 1724, an unusually early date for a gambrel roof.
In our century other Dutch houses have gone in and out of habitation, many to be rescued from the fate the remainder have suffered. It is hard for us to understand that abandonment need not be permanent as with the living, that houses can and should be stabilized for another day.

Wattle and Daub Bergen County, N.J. 18th century

In the age of fireplace heating before the cast iron stove,

heating a house was laborious and inefficient. Shutters were

closed again the cold, walls were made of brick or stone,

or filled with brick or wattle and daub (clay and straw).

The latter filling, as here, impeded the penetration of cold

winds while providing a surface for interior finish - whitewash.

Water soluble, dirty walls were "cleaned" by applying

another layer of cheap whitewash, as many as 20 layers

found in some houses.


           River Edge (Bergen Co.) N.J. 1804 .

12 Miles to Hoboken on the Bergen Turnpike to Hackensack, is incised on this brownstone mile marker, reminding us of Benjamin Franklin's
many initiatives including efficient postal delivery by marking the post roads.   In this century it was Franklin Roosevelt who
sought to preserve these markers in New York.    It was he, enthusiastic about Dutch history,  who also supported the publication of and then   wrote the introductions to two
books on Dutch house


Bergen Turnpike Mile Marker
Rye, a staple grain, growing at Philips Manor

      Hudson Valley Kas        

  The Hendrick Lott House Brooklyn (Kings Co.) N.Y. 1800 Vestiges of Dutch culture are hard to find along the streets of New York. Peeling paint on a shutter hinge perfectly reflects what has happened to the Lott house in one century. Not long ago it was a cherished home on a residential street. Recently it barely survived a townhouse development, rescued by timely neighborhood action to become a house museum.
Neighbors who have grown up adjacent to the past find its familiarity a personal need, giving assurance of continuity and identity in an accelerating era.
New York City Parks Department, Historic House Trust


 Lott House
Thread Spools

Text:   Roderic H. Blackburn


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All photographs © Geoffrey Gross
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