ePub 版

ing residences of the same age as the Schuyler mansion are, the Corning house, on the corner of State and Chapel Streets, which was so long occupied by Philip S. Van Rensselaer, and the manor house of the last of the Patroons in North Broadway. There are a few rickety buildings about town of greater age, but they were never conspicuous, save the Pemberton house in North Pearl Street, which shows the figures “1710," and was noted as the headquarters of the Indians who came to trade. One other building, and the veteran of all, still stands on the southeast corner of State and Pearl Streets. The western half of the building has been removed to widen the roadway in Pearl Street. The remaining portion has the iron letters “anno," the Domini" having been upon the portion removed. When the building had well turned the first century of its existence the owner removed the date of its building, “ 1667," because it made out the edifice too antiquated to suit him. In the half of the building now remaining lived the father of General Schuyler; there the General himself was born ; and here he spent the earlier part of his married life, before he bought the Schuyler mansion of the Bradstreet estate, of which he was the executor.

The mansion was built by General Bradstreet about the time of his success at Fort Frontenac. It was not built by Mrs. Schuyler during the absence of her husband in Europe, as has been so often stated. Nor is it probable that the grounds extended to the river, a quarter of a mile distant, or that there was a subterranean passage thither, for a large portion of the tract thereabout was a common pasturage. The grounds were ample,



however, and the General's garden and orchard were famed. Especial pride was taken in his pears, which bore his name and were the envy of every horticulturist. The story runs that many an applicant for scions was put off with grafts of an inferior quality of fruit.

The busy Albany of the present day has crowded about and even upon the four acres of land that immediately surround the Schuyler mansion. The stranger may go by within a few rods and not discover the old yellow

[graphic][ocr errors]

building behind the rows of huge horse-chestnut trees that line the terrace. A fringe of lilacs along the crest of the slope is hidden by a huge fence of boards, the gate of which has been nailed for many years. Entrance must be made at the rear. Once within the inclosure, the building shows a main part about 60 feet square, with the front entrance toward the east. A hexagon, of later date than General Schuyler, forms a vestibule, or outer hall. The contour of the roof is of the “ double-hip" pattern, pierced with small dormers and two square chimneys. Balustrades are carried all about the roof and across the dormers. A row of seven large windows, with panes of glass, unusually generous for those days, pierces the front wall above. Antiquated steps, protected by equally antiquated railings of wrought iron, lead from the terrace up to the vestibule. The main hall is 30 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 12 feet high. Narrow windows on either side of the double doors, give such light as does not come through the hexagon. A paneled wainscoting of wood, painted white, conforms with the carved wooden cornices. The modern decorator has set off the white

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

to advantage by an intensely blue paper upon the wall. At the farther end of the main hall, and directly opposite the entrance, a smaller door, with glazed transom and leaden sashes, leads to the rear hall and the historic stairway. There are only two other doors in the main hall. The one on the north leads to what was evidently a sitting-room. The one on the south leads to the drawing-room, in which General Schuyler's second daughter, Elizabeth, married Alexander Hamilton, then the aid and military secretary of General Washington. In this room, also, ex-President Fillmore married Mrs. McIntosh, a subsequent owner of the property.

As the eye runs over the interior adornments of the room, rich in carved wood and well lighted by four deeply cased windows, it is an easy matter to imagine the scene of Mrs. Hamilton's wedding and to note the guests who were present. It is said to have been the only wedding in his family that was really enjoyed by General Schuyler. His time was so fully occupied with public business and with his own private affairs, that he had

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

little opportunity to look after his children. We are told that his other four daughters married without his consent, and away from home. The eldest, Angelica, married John B. Church, whom the General did not like because he was a foreigner and a stranger. Church was known as John Barker, but his incognito did not conceal him from an English officer who had known him in London and who told the story of his fight because of a duel. John Barker then assumed his real name, that of a respected and wealthy family, returned to England, and was afterward a member of Parliament. The third daughter, Margaret, married Stephen Van Rensselaer, the last of the Patroons, before he had reached his majority, and had come into the possession of his estate. The engagement was consented to with the understanding that they should wait, but their haste obliged them to live for a time in a small house in North Pearl Street, until the Patroon could claim the Manor house as his own. The romantic marriage of Cornelia with Washington Morton, and the marriage of Catharine—“My Kitty," as she was called by her father-with Samuel Malcolm, are both said to have been away from home and without the consent of the General, though for what reasons are not stated. At the baptism of Catharine, General and Mrs. Washington were two of the sponsors, but it is doubtful if they were present on that occasion, except by proxy.

In the rear of the drawing-room, and entered from the smaller hall at the west, is the private room of General Schuyler, which is connected with a retiring room. Accurate measurements have shown that a space of about four feet square close to one of the great chimneys cannot be accounted for in any other way than that it forms the access to a concealed way that led underground to the barrack, or fortified house, about fifteen rods distant. The recent caving in of this covered way has revealed its location and direction, but the secret passage in the house cannot be explored without materially damaging the building.

An emergency, which would have called for the use of the secret passage, if there had been time, occurred just before the close of the Revolution. General Schuyler had left the army as soon as the campaigns of the North were at an end, and he was charged with the duty of intercepting all communication between the British Generals Clinton in New York and Haldimand in Canada. The General had been warned of attempts that would be made to capture him, and he had several guards about the place. A band of Tories and Indians organized themselves under Waltermeyer, at the Whitehall farm, and burst in upon the General's premises while the guards were asleep. Their arms had been removed to the cellar by Mrs. Church through a mistake. General Schuyler retreated to an upper room and fired a pistol to alarm the garrison half a mile distant. The family were all gathered in the room with the General, when their babe, Catharine, was missed. Mrs. Schuyler attempted to go after her, but was detained by her husband. The daughter Margaret slipped by and felt her way through the darkness to the cradle, on the first floor. Although the enemy had entered the house, no one saw her till she had reached the stairs on

« 上一頁繼續 »