Seven to Save: 2009

In 2009, the Preservation League of New York State is using its annual listing of endangered places, Seven to Save, to support and enhance the year-long commemoration of the voyages of Henry Hudson, Robert Fulton and Samuel de Champlain. The 2009 Seven to Save List gives voice to seven disparate sites which illustrate the heroic saga of the exploration and settlement of the Hudson and Champlain valleys.

Fort Montgomery | Rouses Point, Clinton County | 1844-1872

Threat: Deterioration, need for stabilization

Situated on the border between the U.S. and Canada, Island Point is where Lake Champlain enters the Richelieu River. The island was first fortified in 1818 as the northern gateway linking the St. Lawrence and Hudson rivers. Fort Montgomery, built in the mid-19th century, was seen as a crucial fortification by Civil War strategists. This site symbolizes the shared history of these two nations.

Gunboat Spitfire | Lake Champlain, Clinton and Essex Counties

Threat: Natural environment, including non-native aquatic species, and vandalism

This vessel was part of the American fleet that held the British at bay for a year and contributed to the American victory at Saratoga in 1777. Not only is the Spitfire the most significant underwater archeological site on the bottom of Lake Champlain; it illustrates the interconnected history of the Hudson and Champlain valleys.

Jan Van Hoesen House | Claverack, Columbia County | EARLY 18TH CENTURY

Threat: Deterioration

Jan Van Hoesen, who built this house, was the grandson of Jan Franz Van Hoesen, the original patentee of the area in the 1660s. The farmstead, while encroached upon by the adjacent mobile home park, remains intact and undisturbed. This site exemplifies the themes of Dutch settlement along the Hudson River and its tributaries.

Plumb Bronson House | Hudson, Columbia County | 1811, 1838, 1849

Threat: Many years of unchecked deterioration

Samuel Plumb, owner and operator of a fleet of tow boats on the Hudson River, purchased this property and built this residence in 1811. In 1838 Dr. Oliver Bronson hired famed architect A. J. Davis to embellish the house, then brought him back in 1849 to reorient the house to the Hudson River. Now, the nonprofit Historic Hudson needs to determine a new use and plans for site stewardship.

Magdalen Island | Red Hook, Tivoli Bays, Dutchess County | LATE ARCHAIC, 6,000-3,000 YEARS AGO, THROUGH POST-CONTACT PERIOD

Threat: Looting

Studies of Magdalen Island have shown that from the Late Archaic through the post-European contact period, the island has been used as a seasonal home by both Native Americans and Euro-Americans. The site could yield additional archeological information about the Hudson Valley’s early inhabitants.

Historic South Street Seaport | Manhattan, New York County | TIN BUILDING, 1907, AND NEW MARKET BUILDING, 1939

Threat: Demolition, loss of context

The South Street Seaport and Fulton Market are historically linked to Robert Fulton and his ferry to Brooklyn, as well as to the theme of commerce along the Hudson River. General Growth Properties has proposed out-of-scale new development, requiring demolition of the National Register-eligible New Market Building and the relocation of the Tin Building. This site illustrates the need for careful planning along and stewardship of New York State’s waterfront, especially within historic districts.

Burden Iron Works Museum | Troy, Rensselaer County | 1881-1882

Threat: Deterioration

This building stands as an important reminder of the Hudson River’s industrial heritage. Robertson designed the building as the offices of the Burden Iron Company, the first in the world to manufacture horseshoes by machine. The site is now operated as a museum of commerce and industry, as well as the offices of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, the nonprofit which owns the building.

The Quadricentennial: A Celebration 400 Years in the Making

In 2009 the State of New York is celebrating a voyage of exploration that, while failing in its stated mission, opened a continent to colonization and commerce.

In the spring of 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman renowned for his Arctic explorations, set out to find a water route to the Orient. His employers, the Dutch East India Company, were looking for a shortcut to give them a competitive advantage against their arch rivals – the English. His ship sailed into the harbor discovered by explorer Giovanni da Verrazano some 85 years earlier, but rather than turning around, he continued north in search of the elusive passage to Asia. The three-masted yacht Halve Maene (Half Moon) continued upstream, reaching the latitudes near present-day Albany in September 1609. Hudson and his crew became the first Europeans to sail up the river that now bears his name.

In a strange twist of fate, French explorer Samuel de Champlain was also on a voyage of discovery in what is now northeastern New York, traveling in the opposite direction, south on the lake that was later named for him. Hudson and Champlain’s expeditions missed meeting by mere months and about 100 miles.

In addition, for voyages that took place during the bicentennial anniversary of these events, Robert Fulton is being remembered as the man who made travel on the Hudson River affordable, expeditious, and even glamorous with the launch of the steamboat Clermont.

During 2009 local, state, national and international leaders are working together to orchestrate a meaningful celebration of these voyages that resulted in the rise of the Empire State and helped shape the future of the United States.

Seven to SavePLNYS Staff