Hendrick Hudson Chapter NSDAR receives Save America’s Treasures preservation grant

October 9, 2021, Hudson, NY: The Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution has received a $496,775 grant from the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) funded through the Historic Preservation Fund and the Save America’s Treasures grant program. The grant funds the rehabilitation of the 1811 Robert Jenkins House at 113 Warren Street in Hudson, NY.

Twenty-five such grants totaling $9,972,979 were awarded for projects across the United States, three of which are in New York State. 

With these funds, organizations and agencies conserve significant U.S. cultural and historic resources, which illustrate, interpret, and are associated with the great events, ideas, and individuals that contribute to our nation’s history and culture. Save America’s Treasures grants are awarded in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Historic Preservation Fund funding is provided by Outer Continental Shelf oil lease revenues, not tax dollars. The HPF uses revenues of a non-renewable resource to benefit the preservation of other irreplaceable resources.

The grant, which requires a one-to-one match, will help pay for replacement of the 210-year-old house’s slate roof, for masonry repair, including on its imposing parapets, for window and door restoration, for repair to interior finishes, for the construction of ADA-compliant access, and for infrastructure and building systems.

Chapter Regent Jeane LaPorta said, “Our members are thrilled to receive this generous grant. It will bring us a long way to raising the million dollars that’s needed to restore this stunning and historic structure to its proper condition. We’re also thrilled to receive acknowledgement by the National Park Service and the Historic Preservation Fund of the importance of this very important building. It truly is one of America’s treasures.”

The Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the DAR was chartered 125 years ago in 1896. A nonpartisan organization welcoming eligible women without regard to race, creed, or religion, it includes 130 members who trace their lineage back to a patriot in the American Revolution–whether serving as soldier, shopkeeper, or seamstress. In accordance with the National Society DAR, members work to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the women and men who achieved American independence, to promote the development of an enlightened public opinion, and to foster patriotic citizenship. 

The chapter owns and maintains its meeting house, the Historic Robert Jenkins House. The chapter and the chapter house can be accessed at hudson-dar.orgfacebook.com/HudsonDARinstagram.com/robertjenkinshousehendrickhudsonchapterdar@gmail.com, and (518) 828-9764.

Robert Jenkins House tours, library, and chapter in-person activities have resumed. The chapter’s Speaker Series is available virtually via Zoom.

For more information on this project, please contact chapter regent Jeane LaPorta at (518) 828-9764 or hendrickhudsonchapterdar@gmail.com. For questions regarding the Save America’s Treasures grant program, or to comment on this or any other proposed Historic Preservation Fund grant project, please contact the State, Tribal, Local, Plans & Grants Division, National Park Service, at 202-354-2020 or stlpg@nps.gov.

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Backgrounder: Historic Robert Jenkins House

The Federal-style Robert Jenkins House is arguably Hudson’s most iconic and historic residential structure. Built in 1811, the interior was gently remodeled in 1900 and it remains remarkably untouched since that time. The house sits on the most beautiful and historic block in Hudson, in the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District. Its size and imposing roof parapets are striking, distinctive, and visible from blocks away.

The house has among the most prominent lineage in the City, as it was built by the son of a Proprietor. The Proprietors founded the city in 1785 after moving their families and whaling business from Nantucket, where the British were harassing them, to what was then Claverack Landing. Robert Jenkins built a grand home abutting his father Seth’s equally imposing home. Robert married the daughter of another Proprietor. The erstwhile Nantucketers, 30 or so in number, established a thriving whaling economy, but in eight years Robert would fall from his ship and drown in the Hudson River. His granddaughter Frances Chester White Hartley, born in the house in 1833 although her family moved to New York City when she was a child, would, later in her life, follow the lead of Andrew Carnegie during the Public Libraries Movement. In 1899 she purchased the house, renovated it, and in 1900 gifted it to the new Hendrick Hudson DAR chapter so that the chapter’s new public library, the City’s only, would have a permanent and impressive home. The City gave it a full-throated, spectacular welcome with four days of celebration.

Now, the classic slate roof is failing. The 121-year-old interior finishes are beginning to suffer water damage. The imposing parapets need rebuilding as do the box gutters. The old original windows require appropriate treatment, and so do exterior doors. The house must be made ADA accessible so that the public can enjoy the impressive genealogical library, the astonishing museum collection of relics of local, national, and international origin, and the Hudson River School art, which have attracted researchers from the world over. The house’s systems, a charming throwback to 1900, demand updating to provide museum-quality climate control.

A plan to return the Robert Jenkins House to the high physical and operational standard that it enjoyed in 1811 and in 1900 is being developed. A plan to renew the awareness of the house as a classic focal point for City residents and tourists alike is well under way. 

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Backgrounder: Hendrick Hudson Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), founded in 1890, is a non-profit, non-political women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children. There are currently about 930,000 members in chapters in all 50 states and abroad. The Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the NSDAR, founded in 1895 and chartered in 1896, currently has 130 members and meets in the Historic Robert Jenkins House, which it owns.

DAR members trace their lineage back to a patriot in the American Revolution–whether serving as soldier, shopkeeper, or seamstress. The organization welcomes eligible women without regard to race, creed, or religion. 

In the 1890s, it was widely understood that DAR chapters benefitted the communities where they were located because they were dedicated to volunteerism. Community leaders around the nation were inspired to support new chapter formation. At a time when women were still excluded from full participation in society, DAR membership offered the opportunity for a unified voice and a national network within which to work. A DAR chapter in Hudson, therefore, was appreciated as a complement to Hudson’s rich history. 

The chapter’s first priority of business was a building fund for the purchase of a permanent home. 

When in 1900 the chapter received the gift of the Robert Jenkins House from benefactor Frances Chester White Hartley, who had been born in the house, it received a beautiful, spacious, historical home that would enable it to fulfill two of its main goals. The first was to provide the City of Hudson with a well-stocked library open to the public (it was the only public library in the City until 1959). The second was to provide a museum space for display of the treasures generously gifted to the chapter by City residents for the public’s viewing.

The library transferred most of its collection to the new Hudson Area Library in 1959 but retained its expansive genealogical and historical collection, which it makes available to the public by appointment. The house, including the library and the museum space, is open to the public on publicized dates, although it was closed during the first year of the pandemic. 

In addition to its crucial role as conservator of its Historic Robert Jenkins House, the chapter engages in many community-based projects. It runs a Speaker Series, inaugurated when Zoom came into wide use, that is widely promoted and open to the public. The series addresses a wide range of topics that relate to DAR community objectives. The chapter awards a monetary Good Citizens Award upon the completion of a county-wide contest amongst public-school graduating seniors. Following the NSDAR, the chapter maintains a variety of committees, including: American Indians, Americanism, Community Service, Conservation, Constitution Week, DAR Schools, the US Flag, Good Citizens, Lineage Research, Literacy Promotion, National Defense, Program, Service for Veterans, and Women’s Issues. Members contribute their time and effort to meet the defined aims of each.

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