Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Clarissa Putman's House. Part 1.

Clarissa Putman House. 2003.

This photo shows our house just before we bought it in 2003. It had no working septic, no working furnace, no working well, hadn’t been painted in 35 years, had trees growing into the upstairs windows, etc. This house was built before the American Revolution and was a tenant farm for many years. Locally, it is known as the Clarissa Putman house. Putman was the common-law wife of Sir John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson. After she bore him two children, he jilted her and married a socialite from New York City. Putman moved out of Old Fort Johnson and to this house where she lived for the next two years. She then moved to Schenectady where she spent the rest of her life.

A historical novel was written about Clarissa Putman by John J. Vrooman, Superintendent of New York State Historic Sites back in the early 1950s. The book, Clarissa Putman of Tribes Hill, has a chapter called "The House on the Fort Hunter Road" which describes the house in detail. Clarissa Putman is buried in Vale Cemetery in Schenectady. Some of her descendants still live in the Mohawk Valley.

Clarissa Putman House. May 30, 2006.

This photo shows the house after we cut down trees and brush, removed the porch, painted the house, changed the roof on the addition (built around 1870) from a shed roof to a regular roof, and re-shingled both roofs.

Clarissa Putman House October 2006

This photo shows the house as it is now. We added two windows on the left to balance the ones on the right. Replaced all the windows on the main house with modern replacement windows meant to look like colonial windows, replaced the windows in the addition to look like windows from that period, replaced the front door, pointed up the foundation, and painted the addition. We are not completely done with the front of the house, but it does show improvement.

Historical preservationists have spent a lot of time and money preserving the homes of wealthy people. I do not have a problem with that, but not enough time and money has been spent preserving the homes of the poor, the working poor, tenant farmers and the like. That is just one reason why I wanted to save this house, which was probably only a year or so away from having to be demolished when we bought it.

I will write more on this project in future posts.

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