Pruyn House, a beautifully restored home situated on 5½ acres in the hamlet of Newtonville, Town of Colonie, has a connection to the Dutch heritage of New York’s Capital District. Casparus Pruyn, his wife, Ann, and their eight children occupied this summer home which was built between 1825 and 1830. Constructed on land leased from Stephen Van Rensselaer III, the last Patroon, it is a blend of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. Mr. Pruyn had been employed by the Patroon as his land agent. Upon the death of Van Rensselaer in 1839, Casparus Pruyn became the owner of the property.
The house and 114 acres of the estate were sold in 1848 to Alfred Mayell for $3,800. In 1893, the property was purchased at an Albany County land auction by John H. Henkes Jr. and his wife, Carrie, who lived on an adjoining farm. The Henkes family used the 40-acre parcel as a working farm. The outbuildings consisted of barns, a carriage house, stables, a smokehouse, a well house, a combined woodshed and privy, a potting shed, and greenhouses. The stables and one barn were lost to fires, and a summer kitchen at the rear of the house was removed to make way for a circular driveway. Very few structural changes have been made to the house.
The house and 5 ½ acres were acquired by the Town of Colonie in 1983. The purchase was financed by a bond issue for $110,000 for the house and $140,000 for the first phase of the restoration. This included brick work, roofing, plumbing, heating, windows, floors, some woodwork, and a kitchenette.
An inventory of the contents of the house and outbuildings was found, and has been of immense value in determining the manner in which the house was furnished up to the 1850s.
There are currently ten buildings on the Pruyn House Complex. They include the Buhrmaster Barn, reconstructed and moved to the site in 1987, and the Verdoy Schoolhouse that was moved to the site in 1995. Other structures include a smokehouse, potting shed, woodshed/privy building, now the Tool Museum, carriage house, well house and restroom facility. Herb and flower gardens, maintained by the Fort Orange Garden Club, are focal points of the site. They feature brick walks, painted fences, and a sun dial.
The Buhrmaster Barn was originally located on the Mohawk River where it was rebuilt in the late 1800’s after a fire, and moved to the Troy-Schenectady Road. It was moved to the Pruyn House site in 1987. The barn retains many early features, such as hand-hewn beams and wooden pegs. It has double doors and is a lovely site for a summertime party, when the gardens and the grounds are at their best.
The Buhrmaster Barn is used for our concert series, flower shows, quilt shows, contra dancing, and meetings. It is also a popular venue for weddings and receptions. Other uses include fund-raising events, such as antique and craft shows, theatrical performances, and exhibitions.
The Verdoy schoolhouse was built in 1910. It is a good example of the early one-room schools built in the Town of Colonie and used until the 1950s. The schoolhouse was donated by the North Colonie School District in 1995. It has been restored to preserve an important part of Colonie’s history and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.