Old Austerlitz is a living history museum of post-and-beam houses, a granary, a blacksmith shop, a one-room schoolhouse, Christian church and other historic buildings. A large barn and storage sheds are currently being reconstructed on a 20 acre field at Route 22 and Harvey Mountain Road.
The land was donated to the Historical Society by Robert Herron, a lifelong resident whose family’s roots in the town date back seven generations. Herron envisioned an early 1800s village on site, with educational programs, community events and a library housing historic and genealogical materials, all open to members and visitors alike. His dream is finally coming into fruition.
Morey Devereaux Barn
The Morey-Devereaux Barn was purchased from a private collector in 2010. It is the original barn that was on the same property as our 1794 Morey-Devereaux House that was located in the Town of Nassau, before being erected on the Old Austerlitz property. Ten years after establishing the Morey-Devereaux House (circa 1790) as the centerpiece for Old Austerlitz, the Morey-Devereaux Barn began being erected as an addition to Old Austerlitz.
Following a generous donation from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation to the Austerlitz Historical Society to build a larger community meeting space, an appropriate building was sought. Wanting to erect a suitable building that would fit with the architecture of Old Austerlitz, the Building and Grounds Committee looked high and low to find a suitable historic building to suit the Society’s needs and standards.
As a total coincidence, Tony and Gail Cashen discovered that the historic English barn on the Morey-Devereaux property had been taken down and was in storage at Eastfield Village in Nassau. A negotiated purchase of the building, careful planning by the Buildings and Grounds Committee, and approval by the Society Trustees allowed the reconstruction to begin in Spring of 2012.
The Barn is a classic three bay 30’ x 40’ English Barn typical of those built in the 1700’s. The basic footprint provides a suitable area to be used as a meeting space and utilized for Society events and programs. Jon Wilder and John Wilbur, our post and beam contract team, had to locate and cut down mighty tall and straight trees from which they could saw out 40’ long 8’ x 10” beams to place on the perimeter of the barn foundation that we had poured. When they were in place, a network of supporting hand hewn mortise and tenon rafters were joined with the supporting beams. The tongue and groove 2” hemlock sub flooring was then installed to cover the floor framing. The final barn floor is 1” pine boards 16” to 24” wide which Jon had in storage to be nailed to the sub-flooring with cut nails as one of the last parts of the work.
To provide space for the display of a collection of antique farm equipment contributed by Tony and Gail, a 20’x 32’ covered equipment shed was also erected as an extension at the rear of the barn. Constructed from historic barn parts, this addition replicates a similar shed built as an addition to the original Morey-Devereaux Barn.
Jon Wilder and John Milburn (Blue Arrow Farm, LLC.) expert timber frame contractors from Rayville, were largely responsible for erecting the barn. Basic funding for the building was established with the Kelly Foundation Grant. An additional contribution by Tony and Gail made it possible to proceed with construction so that no general funds of the Society were required for the project. Additional support from volunteers and contributors of “in kind” services for the project helped the entire project come in on budget.
The Morey-Devereaux House
The Morey-Devereaux House, named for a family who owned and occupied it for five generations in the Town of Nassau, was given to the Austerlitz Historical Society in lieu of being razed. The Board of Trustees of the Austerlitz Historical Society contributed $100,000 to the project for its dismantling by J. M. Kelly Ltd., who documented and numbered every piece before it was moved to three acres deeded by Robert Herron to the Society. This land is part of the Old Austerlitz site. These funds further enabled the storage of the parts and laying of the foundation by Madsen and Madsen.
The house has some hand-hewn beams, made from single trees, which are 46 feet long. The elegant entry hall is 36 feet long and 13 feet wide. It features beautiful doors, extensive dado and a fine staircase, with a scrolled bracket under each stair tread. The wide pine floors are in excellent condition as are built-in cupboards, hand-planed beaded beams, moldings and much of the wainscoting.
Stone mason Dan Rundell affixed stones from the original site to the foundation. Erection of the beams, the roofing, installation of windows and the siding was done by artisans of Burratto and Sons.
Completion of the house with new wiring, heating, modern lavatories and a new kitchen as well as the rebuilding of the two chimneys and five fireplaces cost approximately $300,000. The house serves to preserve and demonstrate the way people lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Tours of the exterior of this building and of the other buildings, which are part of a planned living history village, are open to you upon request with a call to the Society at (518) 392-0062.
We invite your participation and support which are vital to this interesting, valuable asset to the preservation of Austerlitz History.
Construction of the Morey-Devereaux House
These pictures show the dismantling and re-assembly of the Morey-Devereaux house. It was moved from its original location in Nassau, New York and stands as the gateway to Old Austerlitz Village.
The Harvey House is a circa 1780 building. It was originally built in northeast Connecticut and was relocated to Old Austerlitz Village. The original building consisted of 4 rooms. Extensive interior renovations are now complete, but the exposed beams still pay homage to the original designs of the period. The windows are all Shaker Period windows that were obtained from the Mount Lebanon Shaker site in nearby New Lebanon, New York. These truly stunning windows allow natural light to permeate the room from north, south, east and west. This building has housed the Gift Shop for Old Austerlitz Village since its opening in 2001. The building also serves as meeting space and can be used for exhibitions and displays.
The blacksmiths were the first recyclers, according to Robert Engel, a blacksmith from Stockport, NY. They took old iron and reformed it into the tools and parts needed in their economy. It is in this spirit that Old Austerlitz continues to grow toward a working early American museum as a blacksmith shop has been added to its collection of buildings on Route 22 in Austerlitz, New York.
The blacksmith shop is an important piece of Old Austerlitz. No town was without a blacksmith, whose shops were as frequent as gas stations today. According to Engel, in the old times, small towns would hire a blacksmith and provide him with living quarters and a place to work because he would provide the town with so many utensils and parts, including the tools for almost everything, bands for the cooper’s barrels, rims and hubs for wagon wheels.
Robert Herron, the guiding light for the concept of Old Austerlitz, had his eye on a building suitable for a blacksmith shop for several years. It was a small utility barn originally located on land off Route 66. The presence of circular saw marks indicate that it dates back to the 1850’s. (The circular saw had its advent in the 1840s.) Bob petitioned the County and the Austerlitz town board to obtain the building which was slated for demolition. He and Roy Carney, the chairman of the Austerlitz Historical Society’s building committee, drew the building and tagged the pieces of the building with brass tags before it was carefully taken down and transported to the site for recycling as a blacksmith shop.
The building has a sturdy post and beam construction with solid original clapboards that are one inch thick. Steven Connelly reconstructed the shop under the supervision of Herron with advice from Engel during the month of August 2007.
The shop is fully outfitted for demonstrations and classes.
The Stillwater Granary was a building located on a farm in the township of Stillwater, New York. It was donated to the Society in 1998. During that summer members of the Society dismantled the granary and put it in storage at our Austerlitz site. In 1999 we began to erect the building. The building is now roofed and the siding on and painted.
Sauers - Kellogg House
The Sauers-Kellogg House is the home of Robert Herron. It is actually two homes in one, the Sauers House and the Kellogg House. Bob saved the Sauers House from demolition in the 1980s at which time it was moved to its present location off Harvey Mountain Road. The house dates back to 1770. It is a Connecticut style center chimney, story-and-a-half house with Dutch influence. A modern kitchen was added to the back and linked to the Kellogg House, which was constructed in 1810. The Kellogg House was located on Bob’s property, but closer to Route 22. The home first belonged to the Kelloggs who moved to Austerlitz during the early 1800s. Justin Kellogg and his wife Mary lived in the house until her death in 1933. Bob’s parents bought the house in 1933. They sold the house to the Endersons in 1945. Bob repurchased it at a later date. The house was moved and attached to the Sauers House in 1993. A barn, which was originally on the west side of the road, was also moved to its present location not far from the combined homes. The barn was originally used by the Kinne Carriage Manufacturing company in the early 1800s.
The Varney House was the childhood home of Robert Herron. His mother was born in the house. The house is decorated in a typical 1830s style with simple wood furnishings. The front door of the five-room, two story house leads into a porch. Twenty four mailboxes, a counter and a window welcome a visitor. The space served as the Austerlitz Post Office from 1935 to 1960.
Austerlitz Public School 1852
The original Austerlitz school house was located in School District No. 3 which was one of 17 districts created in the Town of Austerlitz in 1818. In 1818 there were 46 families in District No. 3. This one-room schoolhouse was originally located several yards north of its current location on Route 22. Although the interior of the building has been changed over the years, the frame dates back to 1852. It remained a public school into the 1950s, the last one-room school in the Chatham District, after which it was used briefly as a summer home.
Austerlitz Church - 1853
The Christian church was organized on October 30, 1851, by 15 men and women from Upper and Lower Green Rivers. In 1852 a chapel was built in Lower Green River in Hillsdale and was shared with the Methodist Church. In 1853 the Austerlitz chapel was built and dedicated. This chapel has been used as a church on and off ever since.