Sunday, August 31, 2014

Catskills vacation: Day 3 (Tuesday)

I love history and went to Historic Huguenot Street. The Huguenots were French Protestants in the 1500s and 1600s. France was very Catholic at the time and Protestants were persecuted and many were killed. They left France and some ended up in the British colonies.

A group of 5 families, consisting of 12 male heads of household, came to New York and settled in what is now New Paltz. Historic Huguenot Street is made up of a reconstructed church (based on the original) and 5 or so original stone buildings. Guided tours are available within each structure. I LOVED it!

To celebrate the French, Dutch, and American identities, each nation's flag is displayed in the parking lot. The French connection is obvious. After this group of Huguenots left France, they went to the Netherlands. The Dutch were very welcoming and accepting (the Puritans went there too for a while before coming to what would become Massachusetts in 1620). However, both the Huguenots and the Puritans were concerned about retaining their culture and wanted to settle in a new land, so both came to what would become America. The Huguenots settled in New Paltz in the 1670s. Although the land was officially controlled by the British, it had been Dutch before and the Dutch presence remained strong for the next 100 years or so.

The tours start at the reconstructed church. Isn't it beautiful?

 Interestingly, the pews don't face the pulpit, which is off to the side, but there are two rows that face each other.
 Ladder up to a loft
 Lots of natural light

 Don't think me preaching would have gone over too well with the Huguenots!

Of course there is a little cemetery outside, including the gravestones of some of the settlement's founders

The next house is my favorite. It is interpreted from events in the year 1755. It is baby Josiah's baptism day so everyone is very happy.

It is also the start of the French and Indian War. The settlement is on the frontier and while they have had continual peace with the Native Americans, they are always worried about a potential attack. The town is waiting for its leaders to decide what to do. Should they join with the French? They are French after all, but these French are Catholics and it is possible, maybe even likely, that the persecutions will start again if France wins the war. Should they fight with the British? Even though they have lived in a British-controlled land for 70+ years, they are not French. Should they remain neutral? The town leaders can't decide, so each family must decide what to do. Some join the French army, some join the British army, and some remain neutral. The next room is set 20 years later. Now baby Josiah is all grown up and he has to decide which side to fight for in the American Revolution. He is an American and fights with the Patriots. I love how the whole house interpretation is centered around themes of identity.

The next house is set in the 1920s. You can see the original stone house, but since it is the era of prosperity, the owners have added on. They have a maid, who shows us around.
The last house that I saw was set in the American Revolution as well--note the Betsy Ross flag.
the visitor's center used to be a fort.
Here is the front view
This is a side view
It is only one street, but it was absolutely beautiful. Lots of greenery, a few read leaves, and beautiful stone houses and a ton of history. So glad I went.

1 comment:

Lorin and Marilyn said...

All that history is really interesting, and the area is beautiful.