The Van Schaick Mansion is located on 1 Van Schaick Avenue, Cohoes, N.Y. The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers are very near by along with the city of Albany and Troy. The area that the house occupies is often referred to as the Half Moon Patent.
For most of the mansion’s existence, it was in the Van Schaick family. Philip Pieterse Schuyler and Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick had a joint interest in the Half Moon Patent. Philip Pieterse Schuyler gave his interest in the Half Moon Patent to Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick in 1674. Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick never lived on the island, but there was a wooden house south of the mansion that his family used.
In 1676 when Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick died, his wife received the house through his will. Goosen’s wife then passed it on to their son, Anthony. Anthony was the actual builder of the mansion. It was in his will that there was a reservation made for a cemetery on the property.
John G. Van Schaick and his wife Anna were third cousins and decedents of Goosen Gerritsen Van Schaick. They were the hosts of the house during the battle period of the Revolutionary War. Anna’s great grandfather was Anthony, which made her the true inheritor of the house.
The last Van Schaick resident was Mrs. William L. Adams. Her first husband was Gerald Van Schaick who had willed the house off to her when he died. She remarried to Mr. Adams. She willed the house to Mr. Adams when she died. The house was in Van Schaick hands until 1905. Mr. Adams started selling some of the (previously) Van Schaick’s land which greatly infuriated the Van Schaicks to the point where they brought Mr. Adams to court. Due to the fact that Mr. Adams had rightfully inherited the house, he won the case and was not punished or stopped from executing his actions. Since August of 2001, it has been in the hands of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).
There have been very few changes to the mansion over time. One of the changes was that the original roof was made out of cedar shingles, but in the year of 1800, the roof was replaced with slate shingles which are replaced when necessary. On the left side of the house, there used to be a pulley system which allowed merchandise (Anthony and later generations of the Van Schaicks were merchants) to be lifted directly out of the cart and brought directly into the second floor- or main floor, of the house. The door is now filled in, but part of the pulley mechanism still remains. The shape of the door can still be seen through the difference of age or type of brick used to fill the space in. Directly below the mechanism was where the driveway was originally located. In the front of the house, on the side where there are two windows, the larger of the two used to be an opening to Anthony’s office (he had his office down there so the rest of the house could be for the family). It has obviously been filled in, but the original door that filled the space is still in the house. There is also evidence that the color of the house has been changed over time due to the fragments of different colors throughout the exterior of the house. An addition to the back of the house is also evident with the use of different materials then those of the rest of the house. A porch on the front has also been added. Most changes made are just superficial however. These are the obvious changes that the mansion has gone through.
The best guess or knowledge as to who the architect of the mansion--- is Anthony Van Schaick (owner/builder of the mansion). The Van Schaick Mansion is an English style home with a Dutch flare. The house is laid out in a different style then most homes of that time, but is not unique. The gambrel roof is definitely an English style element. There is “mouse toothing” with the brick along the gambrel roof which is said to be a Dutch technique. The bricks are put into “slices of pie” type shapes with the wider end put up against the arc of the roof. The front door is another example of the Dutch style. The door is cut horizontally in half allowing the two halves to be opened at the same or different times. There is a hall that runs the length of the house and has two large room connected to it on each side with smaller rooms adjoining them.
The house has three floors to it. The lowest floor (essentially the basement) housed the kitchen, original dining room, and Anthony’s office. The kitchen had a stone cook stove adjacent to the hearth that jutted out from the foundation of the house. The basement windows had bars vertically in them. The bars acted like screens in the warmer months. Anthony’s office had a private entrance from the outside as to not disturb the family.
The second floor, or the main floor, had the mechanism and opening in the wall to have merchandise brought immediately into the house and where they were to be stored. The attic was basically a storage area.
Daughters of the American Revolution. Van Schaick Mansion. 19/11/03 www.vanschaickmansion.org