The Back Page
By Kaitlin Basilico
This patriotic soldier welcomes tourists, history buffs, and (oftentimes) school buses to one of the mid-Valley’s National Historic Sites. Close to a major highway and bridge, this Colonial-era homestead has a colorful history. Wealthy Dutchman Gulian Verplanck — along with two partners — purchased 85,000 acres of Dutchess County real estate in 1683; he built a farmhouse on a parcel of land near the Hudson River around 1730. During the Revolutionary War, the fieldstone house served as the Continental Army headquarters of patriot Fredrich Von Steuben. A career soldier in the Prussian army, Von Steuben was responsible for implementing the military training programs that turned Colonial farm boys into soldiers. The house was also the birthplace of the Society of the Cincinnati, the forerunner of today’s Veterans Association.
Members of the Verplanck family occupied the homestead until 1931, when the house was destroyed by fire. It was restored 35 years later; today, visitors notice original architectural features such as capped chimneys and a beehive oven. Next to the house is a restored 18th-century Dutch barn, where today’s school kids learn about the American Revolution from the site’s staff members. An English-style garden and several acres of walking trails (featuring lovely views of the river) also attract visitors to this place.
Do you know where in the Hudson Valley this rifle-ready soldier stands his ground? If you do, e-mail us at email@example.com. The first person to correctly identify the location wins a small prize. Check next month’s issue for the answer.