Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Old Houses of Austerlitz Project

On Sunday, April 23 at 2 pm, the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society will host Tom Moreland and Michael Rebic and “The Old Houses of Austerlitz” project of the Austerlitz Historical Society (AHS). Their presentation not only gives an overview of local architectural traditions, it is a story of the connectedness of 19th century families and community development.

The project, now in its fifth year, has encompassed the 168 buildings in Austerlitz that have survived from the 350 buildings shown on the 1888 map of the Town. These survivors, several dating to the 1700s, include 155 houses, six schools, three churches, three hotels and one store.  The AHS has researched the ownership history of each building, from construction to the present, to the extent revealed by recorded deeds and mortgages and other reliable extrinsic evidence. A book on its findings, also containing a history of Austerlitz, will be published in 2018 in connection with the bicentennial of Austerlitz.

The Town of Austerlitz was part of the Town of Hillsdale until 1818.

Tom Moreland, the Austerlitz Town Historian and principal researcher for this project, and Michael Rebic, an architectural historian, will present highlights from the project, utilizing photographs of the buildings taken by Dan Perlmutter and Gail Cashen.

Tom Moreland, a retired attorney, has chaired the AHS Research Committee since 2012 and became town historian in 2016.  Michael Rebic, a member of the Research Committee, is providing the architectural analysis for the book.  He has authored a number of books and articles on American architecture, including a comprehensive study of the history and architecture of the City of Yonkers.  Michael currently is Director of Property Support for the Episcopal Diocese of New York; previous positions were Director of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program, Principal Historic Preservation Planner for the City of Yonkers and Administrator for the National Center for Preservation Law (New York office).

The photo included here shows a traditional, “upper middle-class farmer’s” house that has its origins in medieval England. Its form was brought over by early settlers. A house type that dominated not only the architectural landscape of much of the northeast but also areas (such as Ohio, etc.) as early settlers of this area moved to more prosperous areas in the west and brought ancient architectural traditions with them.

The presentation will take place on Sunday, April 23, at 2 pm at the Roeliff Jansen Society’s Museum in Copake Falls at 8 Miles Road. Look for the small church adjacent to the Copake Falls Post Office. All are invited.