Robert Jenkins was a prominent and influential figure in the City of Hudson’s establishment in 1785, and the house he built in 1811 is considered a Hudson Valley gem. Robert was an original “Proprietor” of Hudson and a two-term mayor. In 1783, with family members and business partners, he had sailed to what was then Claverack Landing from Nantucket, MA, to relocate their whaling business to a deep port safe from harassing British fleets. After his death, his family eventually would move to NYC. The house changed hands several times.
Along with his brother Seth’s house next door, the Robert Jenkins House is significant as one of the early 19th-century buildings within the city’s “Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street” Historic District. Hudson is nationally significant as a deep-water river harbor that was central to the whaling and fisheries industry worldwide. The house’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places cites it as a fine early example of Federal-style architecture in the Hudson Valley, where previously Dutch architecture had dominated.
The Hendrick Hudson DAR chapter has been an important part of Hudson since its founding in 1895, as the keeper of history, the storyteller of the peoples of the city, and the caretaker of the Robert Jenkins House. In 1896, the newly formed chapter, then without a permanent home, embarked on a capital campaign: to fund the purchase of a house in which it could hold meetings and operate a sorely needed city library. This was during the time of the Public Libraries Movement, when generous benefactors like Andrew Carnegie were establishing libraries around the country.
In 1900, Frances Chester White Hartley, the granddaughter of Robert Jenkins, purchased and then gifted to the new chapter the house which was her birthplace. The Hendrick Hudson Chapter has been delighted to make this wonderful house its home ever since.