Stone House Day, a former annual tradition in New Paltz is set to return on Saturday, September 8th, 2018, celebrating the 340th anniversary of the settling of New Paltz by twelve French Huguenot refugees in 1678.
Seven historic stone houses will be open for public tours or viewing, two of which have been closed for many years. Performances, skits, and vendor demonstrations will take place throughout the day while artisans and craftspeople sell handmade goods. Members of the 5th NY Regiment will bring reenactors from multiple time periods, engaging in musket firing, candle making, sewing, blacksmithing, and other activities.
Twelve individuals, known as “the Patentees,” founded New Paltz in 1677 when they traded various goods for nearly 40,000 acres of land with the Esopus Munsee, a subgroup of the Lenape Native Americans who had settled this region for thousands of years prior to European contact. Though the Huguenots fulfilled their part of the land deal and were granted an official patent for the land in September of 1677, it wasn’t until 1678 that they “proceeded to occupy the land and built shelters for their families” (according to Ralph LeFevre’s History of New Paltz, New York, and its old families (from 1678 to 1820), published in 1909).
Beginning in 1950, when all of the historic houses on Huguenot Street were still privately owned residential homes, the Reformed Church of New Paltz, located on Huguenot Street, organized a fundraiser called Stone House Day in which the residents of the historic houses would dress up in colonial costume and allow visitors to tour their homes. The event also included pageants, reenactments, performances, crafts, games, and more.
Eventually, HHS acquired the historic houses and continued hosting the event, which became a popular draw for both the local community and visiting tourists. In 1970, the event was so widely anticipated that it was featured in The New York Times. The event continued to be an annual affair in New Paltz until 2009. Nearly ten years have passed since the last Old New Paltz Stone House Day was held on Huguenot Street.
This year, Historic Huguenot Street is bringing back Old New Paltz Stone House Day, with a stronger focus on the diversity of Hudson Valley history. It will be a celebration of all the cultures that impacted New Paltz and Ulster County including African, Dutch, English, Esopus Munsee, and French.
New Paltz Brewing Company (Pfälzerbräu, meaning “Brewery of the Pfalz”) will be on site selling their handcrafted beer and hot baked pretzels out of the DuBois Fort Visitor Center. The company was founded by two brothers from Germany who became intrigued by the French Huguenots’ time spent in the German state, Rheinland-Pfalz, prior to making their way to the American colonies in the mid-17th century. The brothers believed that when the Huguenots arrived in the colonies they would have brought with them a love and appreciation for German-style beers and ales. Today, New Paltz Brewing Company (Pfälzerbräu) recreates these traditional ales and similarly-inspired foods to share at its taproom in Wawarsing, NY. Because the DuBois Fort Visitor Center historically served as a tavern, restaurant, and community gathering place for much of its 300-year history, it is a fitting place for visitors to learn about and enjoy traditional food and drink.
To assist with transportation throughout the day, Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) has agreed to add stops at the Ulster BOCES parking lot and Broadhead Avenue to its Saturday New Paltz Loop for the day.
For more information, visit Historic Huguenot Street’s website.
Photo: Old New Paltz Stone House Day, 1956, provided by Historic Huguenot Street Archives.