In 1738, Dutchman Evert Terwilliger, his wife Sara Freer and most of their twelve children homesteaded on the bank of the Plattekill Creek. Here, on land inherited from Sara’s father Hugo, one of the twelve Huguenot founders of New Paltz, they built a small one-room stone house and set up a saw mill and grist mill.
Their house, mills and farm created a self-sufficient homestead. The saw mill was probably used to process wood for the house and to harvest trees to sell to others for construction. The grist mill was used to process wheat grown on the farm, some of which was sold as a cash crop. Over time, the mills also served farmers and other homesteaders in the area.
After Evert’s death in 1762, the house passed to his son, Jonathan. It was likely then that Jonathan and his wife altered and enlarged the house, doubling its size, reorienting the entrance of the house, adding a long porch overlooking the creek and converting part of the upstairs garret into living space.
The house is an excellent example of colonial Dutch stone architecture, with its steeply-pitched roof, deep porch, and generous garret.
In the early 1800s, the Terwilliger family sold the house, the mills and the surrounding property to Josiah Hasbrouck, who built his grand Federal-style home next to the Terwilliger’s former home. During the Hasbrouck’s ownership, the house was home to a succession of farm laborers and tenants.
In the early 1970s, when the house and some of the surrounding lands were threatened with the prospect of development, Terwilliger descendants came together, created the Terwilliger Family Association and raised the funds to help purchase the home. They then donated it to Historic Huguenot Street and the house was “reunited” with the Locust Lawn farm complex.
Today, the house is managed as a museum by the Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie, New York. It is currently open by reservation only. Call 845-454-4500 x 211 to book a tour – minimum 5 people ($12/person), 2 weeks notice required.