Where family is the story...
in New Paltz, New York
the heart of the Hudson Valley
Our Mission and History
To collect, preserve and share with the public an inspiring story of an American community as it evolved from the 17th century to the present day.
A Short History of Historic Huguenot Street
In 1894, descendants of the twelve original New Paltz Patentees established the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical and Monumental Society. Five years later, they purchased the Jean Hasbrouck House to hold their ancestral relics and displays of colonial life. Artifacts and papers were collected over the years, but it was not until the 1950s that the Society began a sizeable expansion. Kenneth Hasbrouck, the director at that time, traveled around the country, meeting with family descendants, encouraging them to support his vision of a street of stone houses preserved in their original village setting, to create their own affiliated family associations and establish HHS as a major genealogical and historical repository. He also worked with these family associations to assist in the purchase of, and continued maintenance of, their ancestral homes. The Freer House, the first such purchase, was acquired in 1955.
By 1974, nine family Associations had been formed, seven houses with their outbuildings had been acquired, and the 1717 church had been reconstructed near its original site. In 1964, Huguenot Street was designated as a National Historic Landmark District by the National Park Service. In keeping with the Society's mission, and to preserve architectural and landscape features of the Huguenot settlement, the Society also acquired several cemeteries, a hiking trail, a wildlife refuge, a bird sanctuary, and historic buildings adjacent to the Historic District to serve support functions. Family support was tremendous, and through purchase and donation, the Society's holdings grew to 38 structures and more than 7,000 collections objects. Yet the National Historic Landmark District was not well known, and the Society, though its collections were of international significance, had been an inward-looking organization with little community involvement or professional management, and few outside sources of revenue or support.
The Society's Board hired Dr. Bryant Tolles, director of the Museum Studies department at the University of Delaware, to conduct an institutional assessment. Following his report in 1997, the Society began to make the transition from a 'members only' institution managed by enthusiasts to a professionally run organization, working to gain the support and recognition due its collections by increasing its visibility, diversifying and broadening its audience, and garnering additional sources of revenue for its operation. In 2005, the Society adopted the operating name of Historic Huguenot Street as a way to convey the importance of our sites as living, evolving story of an American community.
Today, Historic Huguenot Street includes 30 (museum houses, outbuildings and rental properties), nine Family Associations, and over 1500 members. From groups of local schoolchildren to travelers from around the world, we host visitors who want to experience our chapter of American History for themselves. Our hardworking staff is always seeking to improve and increase our contribution to the community: by restoring and maintaining the houses and outbuildings; by preserving our collections objects; by making our archival materials more accessible; by educating the public through outreach programs; or by making contact and maintaining relationships with the groups, individuals, and corporations who generously give to ensure that the organization's contributions will endure in the present and grow for the future.
HHS is a member in good standing of the following organizations:
Professional excellence through partnership