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Crailo State Historic Site is an early 18th-century house that was originally part of a large estate, called a patroonship, belonging to the Dutch van Rensselaer family of upper New York. Around 1712, family member Hendrick van Rensselaer inherited the land and built the original portion of the home. Known as Fort Crailo, Hendrick built the house with twenty-inch thick walls for protection against attacks. Gunports were added in 1746 after a French and Indian raiding party attacked the house (a stockade surrounding the house was also built). Today, the house is a museum showcasing Dutch colonial history in the Hudson River Valley.

Crailo State Historic Site is an early 18th-century house built by Hendrick Van Rensselaer.

Crailo State Historic Site is an early 18th-century house built by Hendrick Van Rensselaer.

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In 1609, Dutch explorer Henry Hudson (1565-c.1611) sailed up the Hudson River in 1609 in search of the so-called Northeast Passage to Asia. He reported that the Hudson River Valley had fertile ground and Indians willing to trade. Hudson's expedition sparked interest in and the subsequent Dutch settlement of the region, which would become part of a larger colony on the east coast called New Netherland (the colony stretched from Cape Cod to the Delmarva Peninsula).

By 1629, the Dutch West India Company, which held the rights to colonize New Netherland, developed the "patroon" system to promote settlement in the region. The company granted patroonships to wealthy Dutch merchants on the condition they recruit settlers, provide them with supplies and protection, and arrange their voyage across the Atlantic. One of these merchants was Killiaen van Rensselaer, who received a 700,000-acre patroonship in and around present-day Albany and Rensselaer Counties. The area specifically where the house now stands was called Crailo, which in Dutch means "crow's wood" and was the name of Killiaen's estate in the Netherlands.

As alluded to above, his grandson, Hendrick Van Rensselaer, inherited the land and built the house. After he died in 1740, it passed to his eldest son, Johannes, who added the gunports and built the stockade after the attack in 1746. He later expanded the house in the early 1760s, building an east wing in the Georgian style, which had become prevalent by then as more English settled in the area. However, by the late 1700s, Crailo had been converted to the Federal style. In the 1840s, it became a boys' boarding school and then later as a church rectory.

The State of New York State acquired the house in the 1924 for the purpose of turning it into a museum. The museum offers changing exhibits, special programs, and guided tours. Many artifacts on display were discovered during excavations of Fort Orange. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.

"Crailo State Historic Site." New York Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Accessed January 25, 2024.

Dillon, James. "Fort Crailo." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. October 15, 1966.

Stambach, Paul. "Honored Through The Ordeal: Crailo And The Colonial Wars." New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center. Accessed January 25, 2024.

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Crailo State Historic Site