The Luykas Van Alen House - Kitchen Kinderhook (Columbia Co.) N.Y. 1737


When Luykas Van Alen set out to build his family home in 1737, he had the benefit of inheritance (his father owned 17,000 acres) and a will to have a substantial house in the old Netherlands style, little changed from what his ancestors had known in the old country. Massive smooth-planed joists, high ceilings, large casement windows, and bright colors were thoroughly old fashioned, but functional.
A strong wooden structure insured the integrity of the brick walls. High ceilings were imposing but also allowed larger windows and therefore more light which white walls reflected. The conch shell is old, worn by years used as a doorstop, but fashioned on its end as a loud trumpet to call others from the fields, a local tradition.
Columbia County Historical Society, Kinderhook, N.Y.
--Rod Blackburn, August 1999


    The Luykas Van Alen House Garret 1737

In the garret of Luykas Van Alen's house is one of those few early objects of special function now rarely seen - a senility cradle. Large enough for an adult, it provided nurturing  comfort for elders coming full circle in life to the needs of their infancy. Without the external supports of government and private charity, Dutch families were self supportive. Need and necessity engendered a family closeness less familiar to modern Americans.

The large chimney of a Dutch fireplace funnels smoke and, inefficiently, much warm air upward.

An elm bark "barrel" was once used for grain storage, reflects Indian influence on Dutch farm life.
--Rod Blackburn, August 1999

The Columbia County Historical Society, Kinderhook, N.Y.


The Luykas Van Alen House Kitchen

Light is important to the Dutch. You can see it in their golden age paintings,
and in their houses.
Large windows admit it, whitewash walls reflect it, all to better see their work and treasures. Like their houses, the objects the Dutch treasured to look at also served useful purposes: Delftware dishes, pewter chargers, brass candlesticks, and earthenware pots. Here they display upon a Hudson Valley pottebank - pottery shelf - in sunlight which bathes the hearth, the heart of the home.

Light on the hearth has more to do with where windows are positioned in a Dutch house than anything else.
Columbia County Historical Society, Kinderhook, N.Y.

--Rod Blackburn, August 1999


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