I may in fact live in a bubble. I arrived at Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site [32 Catherine St, Albany, NY 12202] and I was totally surprised to see it was packed!
The hourly tour that was rolling around was filled, but luckily I made it onto the next tour which would be the last of the day at 4pm. There were a few people who didn’t get to see the house that day, and as we were chatting I mentioned that another nearby historical site Fort Crailo was completely empty – they should check that out! Or hey, the USS Slater is down that way too. They just kind of looked at me sideways. I didn’t get it. They wanted to learn some history on this lovely afternoon, right? One lady actually asked me if I lived under a rock (gotta love those ostentatious NYC folk!), no…actually I live three stories up. Sorry, maybe I’m the last person on earth that has never heard about the wildly popular play on Broadway, Hamilton – but I told the lady I had just recently seen Cats on Broadway :-P. Well, I’m cued in now. And Jeff just laughed at my whole situation.
As we waited for the tour there was much to see and learn. I had about as much human interaction as I could handle for the moment, so I went to hang out with the local mansion cats…creatures who understand me. There were a few, but only two were friendly enough to pet…although they weren’t quite so friendly to one another.
After getting my feline fill, I scrutinized the mansion itself, and admired the garden…a small slice of its former self.
I also discovered a live cicada.
There are a few plaques outside with some interesting tidbits. As I was just coming from Crailo, I was happy to see a link between the two. Now I understand why they would team up and sell a combo ticket, which you should purchase to get a discount when visiting both sites.
Then I went inside to read the detailed exhibit in the ticketing office. Here a I attained more insight to the man who’s name I’ve heard all over the region, Philip Schuyler.
A fascinating man of great intelligence, a general, a mathematician, a lover of backgammon. I particularly loved the panel about him named, “A grandson remembers.’
Of course in here you’ll find something about Elizabeth Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton, so relax! Another strange and interesting artifact are the rhinestone shoe buckles of General Burgoyne. He gave them to one of the Schuyler daughters, because when he was a prisoner-guest at the mansion after his defeat at Saratoga she wouldn’t look him in the eye, only stared down at his shoes! The man had an odd sense of humor, but the shoes buckles are indeed fabulous.
What I got very excited over were all of the connections to George Washington (my favorite guy), he visited the mansion in 1782. Catherine Schuyler, the youngest of the children, was George and Martha’s godchild. There is a trinket which holds a lock of George Washington’s hair inside! Amazing.
With all of that, an hour passed by in no time! Our tour began to gather and we entered the threshold. The tour talked a lot about the furnishings in the stunning home,
and about Schuyler children’s history, surprisingly many of them eloped! I was very interested in period artifacts, such as the labeled leather water buckets in each room, and the needlepoint fire place screens so that your face wouldn’t get too hot! One locally related treasure was the picture of Cohoes Falls.
Upstairs, the big windows had a painted on scene of what the landscape used to look like in colonial times. The city was flattened out for roads, and now tall buildings block the way, but there once was a hilly pastoral scene that stretched all the way to the Hudson River.
It was a nice tour which included some great trivia, and now I feel much more in the loop having some knowledge about the Schuyler’s (and Hamilton).
PS, if you don’t care about the history behind the mansion, but you’re caught up in the Pokemon-Go craze –
there is something for you too!