This estate was the country home of General Philip Schuyler both before and after the Battles of Saratoga. The British burned the original house and its outbuildings during their retreat. The present house, erected in 1777 shortly after Burgoyne’s surrender, was the center of Schuyler’s extensive farming and milling operations.
"My hobby horse has long been a country life; I dismounted once with reluctance, and now saddle him again...and hope to canter him on to the end of the journey of life." —Major General Philip Schuyler, 6 November 1777
As a member of the Continental Congress, an influential New Yorker, and an experienced officer, Schuyler was given the rank of major general on June 19, 1775—making him third in command under George Washington and commander of the Northern Department of the Continental Army. In the summer of 1777, as British forces overwhelmingly swept down the Champlain and Hudson Valleys, Schuyler was blamed for the loss of Fort Ticonderoga and the American Army’s retreat. Despite his shrewd tactics to impede the British advance, Congress replaced Schuyler with General Horatio Gates on August 19, 1777, one month before the Battles of Saratoga. Notwithstanding this personal setback, Schuyler helped the army from his mansion in Albany by forwarding supplies and encouraging reinforcements northward.
The estate was originally part of the 1684 Saratoga Patent of 168,000 acres granted to seven New Yorkers (Schuylers owned 24,000 acres). Through inheritence and purchase the “farm at Saratoga” eventually came to Philip’s grandfather, Johannes Schuyler. This bustling farm, left in the care of Johannes’s oldest son, was obliterated by a raiding party of Indians and French Canadians in 1745. Almost all of the community’s enslaved and free people (over 100) were captured; Johannes’s oldest son and heir to the Schuyler fortune was killed on the spot. Philip Schuyler became the family’s new heir.
Following the surrender of British forces in Saratoga on October 17, 1777 and departure of tens of thousands of troops from the area, Philip immediately began to plan the rebuilding of his Saratoga house and farm out of its charred remains. Since December’s winter was approaching fast, his new “cheaply and speedily erected” house was completed within the weeks of November. It was built upon the existing foundation of a burned building and used fresh-cut lumber from his upper sawmill. Paying high wages for labor from all over Albany County, and even by using some captive British soldiers (who knew masonry), the plain, unrefined house was finished, but it was much smaller and simpler than the one to which Philip was accustomed. As time went on the house grew in size and comfort, with structural additions and finishing coats added to cover the naked interior and exterior.
The Continuing Tradition
Throughout Philip’s life and since, this house has been the destination of many visitors, some of whom were famous citizens. George Washington (godfather of daughter Catherine Schuyler), son-in-law Alexander Hamilton (who married daughter Elizabeth Schuyler), Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Marquis de Lafeyette visited this house, to name a few. Now, following in their footsteps, tens of thousands of people from all over the world continue to learn about the general, the visionary, and the man who was Philip Schuyler.