Situated 27 miles southwest of Albany is the picturesque hamlet of Rensselaerville, just north of the Catskills in the Helderberg Escarpment at an elevation of 1800 feet. Rensselaerville was settled in 1787 and quickly became an industrial hub with its collection of tanneries, grist mills, and saw mills—a few of which remain and are adaptively utilized today. The hamlet contains an impressive array of beautifully preserved buildings, both civic and residential, and is particularly notable for its many variations of Federal and Greek Revival architecture within a community that has largely resisted modern development. Due to the cooperative efforts of village residents and organizations, inspiring stories of restoration and on-going preservation abound. The entire hamlet was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
This two-day outing is a rare opportunity to explore one of the state’s most architecturally rich villages. Accommodations for our group will be at the Carey Institute for Global Good, located just outside the main village center and known for being the birthplace of the Preservation League of New York State. The Institute is composed of several distinguished estate properties dating to the early 1900s and is an international destination for meetings, retreats, weddings, and residencies. The complex sits on a hill overlooking Lake Myosotis and the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, which includes 2,000 acres of land and a renowned biological research center.
Upon arrival at noon, we will enjoy a buffet lunch at the Institute. We will then have a tour of the grounds and a presentation by Rensselaerville Historical Society President, Ken Storms, with contributions by former New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner, Carol Ash, and Carey Institute President, Gareth Crawford. Dinner will be at the on-site Carriage House Restaurant.
After breakfast and check-out on Tuesday, we will carpool to the village for a walking tour led by Rensselaerville Historical Society members. The tour will include access to several prominent building interiors, including: the 1880 grist mill, with a short walk to view the 100-foot Rensselaerville Falls; the 1842 Presbyterian Church and Conkling Hall, a beautifully preserved 1839 Greek Revival Methodist church; and additional residences dating to the settlement’s earliest years.
After lunch at the 1848 Palmer House Café, our group will drive to the 1806 Daniel Conkling House, an outstanding example of Federal architecture. This house, as well as several other stops on our tour, was constructed by Ephraim Russ, a local builder who is responsible for much of the stunning architecture in the hamlet. Established by one of Rensselaerville’s first settlers, the Daniel Conkling House fell into a decayed state and was extensively restored by the current owner throughout the past few years. Our time here will include a visual presentation to tell this inspiring story of architectural rebirth.
The tour begins at noon on Monday and ends around 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
FEE: $350 per person for double occupancy; for single occupancy, please add $75.
This includes one dinner, one breakfast and two lunches, overnight accommodations, tax and gratuity, and admission to all sites. The fee does not include alcoholic beverages.
Please note that most rooms have shared baths, and we will do our best to accommodate specific requests. This tour requires walking and standing for extended periods of time.
Photos courtesy of John Eldridge and the Carey Institute for Global Good