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  The History of Wynkoop House

Wynkoop House Stove Platte

Wynkoop House, the finest gambrel-roofed stone house of the Colonial period extant in New York State, was built for Cornelius Evert Wynkoop in 1767.  Wynkoop (1746-1795) married Cornelia Mancius (b. 1741) on August 22, 1766 and purchased forty-two acres on the east side of the Rochester Highway at Stoney Ridge in Marbletown on December 18, 1766.  The property then stretched along the highway from the road to High Falls (now Leggett Road) to the property line of what is now called Hasbrouck House.  Construction of the house probably began the following spring.  The house was almost certainly completed by 1772, the date of a commemorative fireback on the first floor.  It is unlikely that an architect was involved, but the design and arrangement of rooms is based on contemporary British architecture as expressed in pattern books.  The gambrel roof, however, is a distinctly American shape that was at the height of fashion in the colonies in the 1760s and 1770s.

Old Photo of Wynkoop House circa 1925

The main block of the house is 60 x 33 feet and is constructed of gray limestone quarried in Marbletown. The basement rooms, floored in bluestone or pine planks on chestnut sleepers, reflect the original arrangement of the rooms on the first floor: one large room on the north side, two rooms on the south side, and a wide center hall. Presently the first floor has on each side of the center hall a large, nearly square room with a small, rectangular room behind. There were four bedrooms and a storeroom on the second floor. The attic is two-stories high. The lower level is finished with the same materials and in the same manner as the rest of the house, while the upper level, reached by an interior ladder, was probably floored for storage with saplings placed over the crossties. The original winter kitchen still exists in the room at the south-west corner of the basement of the main block.

Old Photo of Wynkoop House

The ell at the rear of the house, a 24 x 35 foot stone, one-and one-half-story structure, is older than the main block; some historians date it to ca. 1715. It was probably the two-room dwelling of a tenant farmer. The ceiling shows evidence of a central jambless fireplace, original to the ca. 1715 house, removed around 1766 when this small dwelling was converted to become the summer kitchenof the much-larger 1766 house. The kitchen attic was rebuilt around 1929. The east porch, to the rear of the kitchen, was added at the same time. The front porch is a modern replica of the porch that was added to the house in the 1860s or 1870s. The new picket fence reproduces a fence pale of about 1818 that was discovered inside the house.

Letter from George Washington

When it was built, Wynkoop House was by far the largest house in Marbletown. Cornelius Evert Wynkoop came from a prosperous farming family; his great-grandfather, Cornelius Wynkoop, had immigrated from Holland and settled in the region at the end of the seventeenth century. His great-uncle was the New York City silversmith Benjamin Wynkoop, and his father, Evert, owned a brewery. Cornelius Evert Wynkoop was a merchant, probably importing goods from overseas with his older brother Dirck, who lived nearby in Kingston. During the American Revolution, Cornelius served as a Major of the Minutemen of Ulster County and was appointed a commissioner of the Committee to Detect and Defeat Conspiracies, serving with Aaron Burr and Dewitt Clinton. On November 15, 1782 General Washington favored Major Wynkoop with a visit. According to tradition, Washington slept in the bedroom on the south-west corner of the second floor. The following day Washington gave an address at the Dutch Reformed Church in Kingston and was given a reception at the house of Cornelius’s brother Dirck.

Postcard showing Washington House

Wynkoop died in 1795, but his widow, Cornelia Mancius Wynkoop, ran the farm with the help of her daughter Cornelia and son-in-law, Benjamin Hardenbergh, until 1818, when they sold the house and land to John and Esther Lounsbery, a blacksmith who lived across the street in the smaller house now occupied by the Stone Ridge Library. After John Lounsbery’s death in 1839, the forty-two acres were divided into six parcels. Parcel number 3, with the house and 12.5 acres, went to Ebenezer Lounsbery, John’s brother. The house remained in the Lounsbery family until the death in 1988 of Sarah Lounsbery, whose great-grandfather, John Lounsbery, Jr., was the nephew of the John Lounsbery who bought the house from the Wynkoops. The house was largely uninhabited from Ms. Lounsbery’s death until September 1992, when the present owner acquired it.

The remarkable feature of Wynkoop House is how little change it has endured. Until 1992, there was no heat, electricity or plumbing in most of the house. Much of the paint on the woodwork dates to the early nineteenth-century, if not the eighteenth century. The pine floors have never been sealed, varnished, painted or refinished; just as in the eighteenth century, they retain their natural, pale-gray color. In restoring the house, the present owner’s goal has been to introduce modern necessities while preserving as many of the original surfaces as possible. For example, old paint and old plaster, when intact, have not been touched simply for cosmetic appearances. Damaged wood has been reconsolidated with invisible modern epoxies rather than replaced with modern wood. And whenever possible, old materials have been used. The kitchen shelves and cabinets, for example, were constructed of old, hand-planed wood planks; the closet doors in the second floor bathroom are eighteenth-century doors found in Maine. Where old materials were not appropriate, such as for customized hardware or for the replacement window on the north side of the house, then the new work has been made to match comparable elements already in the house—not only in appearance but in the materials and method of manufacture as well.

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