Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beekman Mansion

I've been turned on to this new show, the Fabulous Beekman Boys. Two fabulous gay guys who live in a restored farmhouse, after leaving Manhatten. Oh, the shenanigans. The house is just amazing and was restored in the 1990s after being abandoned.

The Beekman Mansion was built over the course of two years, from 1802 to 1804, for the family of William Beekman. The home, which can be described as a combination Georgian/Federal structure, was based on the designs of Asher Benjamin and William Spreatts of Connecticut, and was constructed by master builders Wakeman and Parsons.

William Beekman was a "boy soldier" in the Revolutionary War, and as an adult became a successful and respected businessman with a general store situated across the road from where he would eventually build his Mansion. He married Joanna Lowe, and had eight children – only two of whom made it past the age of twenty. Beekman was appointed the first judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Schoharie County in 1795 and held the position until 1833. He also served as State Senator from 1799-1802. William Beekman died in 1845 at the age of 78 – outliving all his children – and was buried on the property in the Beekman Family Crypt.

While many consider The Beekman Mansion’s wraparound back porch to be its most distinguishing feature, the porch was in fact added during recent renovations. The porch’s design was modeled after another historical house designed by The Beekman Mansion’s original architects. The Beekman Mansion’s original signature architectural accent is it’s large front palladium window, and it’s fourteen foot wide center hallways.

Local lore claims that there was once a tunnel running from The Beekman Mansion to the crypt which was used to hide slaves fleeing northward. While no evidence of a tunnel exists today, The Beekman Mansion is well documented as having been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Other oral histories of The Beekman Mansion recount a savage Indian attack which killed a young girl as she fled up the attic stairway. While no records of such an attack have been found, The Beekman Mansion’s proximity to Cherry Valley – where a brutal Seneca Indian attack in 1778 killed nearly all of the town’s inhabitants – would’ve made the threat of Indian ambushes very plausible.

Before The Beekman Mansion was restored in the late 1990’s, it had been abandoned to the weather, wild animals, and whomever else decided to stop by and spend a night or two. Graffiti lined the wide center hallways, and the rain poured through the roof. It was only through the generous spirit and resources of Frederick and Patricia Selch that The Beekman Mansion was saved, and is now a registered historic landmark.

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