In 2004, before I started my travel blogging, we visited the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, NY. The Schuyler Mansion is a historic house, right in the heart of Albany, NY, and was once the home of General Philip Schuyler. You don’t hear too much about Philip Schuyler in American history, but he was a very influential man and came from a very influential Dutch family. He is most known today as the father-in-law of Alexander Hamilton. In fact, Hamilton was married in the Mansion (it was called “The Pasture” by General Schuyler) and spent a few years there while he served in the New York legislature.
The Schuyler Mansion sits atop a small knoll over the bustling capitol streets. As a matter of fact, when you enter the grounds, there is a quiet hush on the property. You barely notice the trucks and cars whizzing down the streets, nor the boats chugging up and down the nearby Hudson River. The grounds remind me somewhat of an English cottage (or perhaps Dutch). There are flowering trees everywhere, and the brick buildings lend a homey and comfortable feel.
The Mansion was completed in 1763. It has hosted such luminaries as Alexander Hamilton as mentioned, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Franklin, and the notorious British General Johnny Burgoyne who, after his surrender at the Battle of Saratoga, was comfortable and graciously served here.
Photos courtesy of (flickr.com/photos/44124324682@N01/2172338198/sizes/o/in/set-4776) mharrsch.
Philip Schuyler died in 1804, not long after his son-in-law Hamilton in the fated duel with Aaron Burr. The large plot of land was carved up and sold, and the house used as a private residence for nearly 90 years. It then became an orphanage for some years.
On October 17th, 1917, the Mansion was sold to the State of New York and became a National Historic Site. Oddly enough, this was exactly 140 years after Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga.
When we visited the Mansion, it was quite sparse. A few of the rooms were still undergoing renovation (unchanged since the orphanage days), and furniture was in the process of being acquired. We saw the hatchet mark on the stair banister rail.
Legend holds that the hatchet slice was made during an Indian raid at the time of the American Revolution– Philip Schuyler’s family had been targeted; the women and children spotted the marauding savages and scrambled to run up the stairs to hide. It is said that one of the Schuyler daughters, holding a baby, narrowly missed death by hatchet when the weapon caught the staircase wood instead of her head. This is the legendary story– it is unconfirmed but makes for a good thriller!
The Schuyler Mansion is open from April to October, and closed for the winter except on special occasions. We’ve been so tempted to attend their special Christmas and Twelfth Night celebrations, but Albany is a lengthy drive for us in the winter.
The Schuyler Mansion is an understated jewel amongst the riches to be found in New York State history. I think Philip Schuyler deserves more recognition and laud than he has received thus far. He was a good, godly man, a man of integrity and incredible patriotism. He worked for and sacrificed a great deal for the cause of liberty for our country.
Thank you, General Schuyler.