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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark HURLEY HISTORIC DISTRICT
New York

Location: Ulster County, on U.S. 209, about 3 miles west of Kingston and the New York Thruway.

Ownership and Administration. Privately owned houses.

Significance. Preserved in this little town, which lies between the Hudson River and the Catskills, is a collection of stone houses that still preserves the Dutch heritage of the region to an unusual degree. Ten of these houses, some still occupied by descendants of early Dutch settlers, extend along Hurley Street, the town's principal thoroughfare. Scattered nearby are other houses that have survived for two centuries and more. A few of these have characteristics more English than Dutch, attesting to the changes in settlement after the fall of New Netherland—changes that occurred despite the stubborn, if nonviolent, resistance of the original settlers to the English and their alien ways.

Hurley, or Nieuw Dorp (New Village), as it was then known, was founded in 1662 by a few Dutch and Huguenot settlers from nearby Wiltwyck (Kingston). With the permission of Dir. Gen. Peter Stuyvesant, the settlers laid out the new town on the fertile bottom land of Esopus Creek. Construction had scarcely started when the Esopus Indians burned it to the ground. The prisoners taken in the raid were soon released. After a short, ruthless campaign by troops of New Netherland, peace was made in May 1664.

In a matter of months, the victors were themselves conquered by the English, who seized New Netherland in the name of the Duke of York. English rule was not harsh, but the Dutch of Nieuw Dorp stubbornly resisted any change in their way of life. In 1669, Gov. Francis Lovelace renamed the town Hurley after his ancestral home, Hurley-on-Thames. Despite its English name, for the next century and more, Hurley remained a Dutch provincial town—in language, customs, and architecture.

Hurley Street
Ten stone houses of Dutch origin on Hurley Street and more than a dozen others in the town make Hurley, New York, an unmatched example of a Hudson Valley Dutch settlement of the 18th century. The Van Deusen House, in the foreground, built in 1723, was a temporary capitol of New York during the War for Independence.

During the War for Independence, the town was shaken from its accustomed serenity by the passing of the armies and the influx of refugees from Kingston, when the British set the torch to that Hudson River settlement in October 1777. The people of Hurley treasure incidents of this period, and also the town's importance as a station on the "Underground Railroad" and residence of the antislavery leader Sojourner Truth. But it is the town of Hurley, its quiet streets and sturdy houses, that is distinguished—a representative of the time when Dutch America flourished in the valley of the Hudson.

Present Appearance. All the most interesting houses except one lie along two historic roads—Hurley Street and the Hurley Mountain Road. These include the Jan Van Deusen House; the Du Mond, or Guard, House; the Houghtaling House; and the Elmendorf House, or Half Moon Tavern. The exception is the Hardenbergh House, on Schoonmaker Lane a short distance south of Hurley Street.

The old cemetery north of Hurley Street is the resting place of many of the town's earliest settlers, as revealed by the Dutch names on the worn gravestones. Not only Hurley's houses, but also the fertile flood lands of Esopus Creek, west of the town, recreate the story of the early settlers and reveal why they chose this spot for their "New Village." [72]

NHL Designation: 11/05/61

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005