Monday, August 31, 2009

A Visit To Fort Crailo

I've lived in Rensselaer, just across the Hudson River from downtown Albany, for 20-some years. Right down the street from me is a State historic site, Fort Crailo. It's a house, actually, but is one of the oldest in the area and dates back to the earliest Dutch settlers. It's recently been revitalized and remodeled. Plus, a friend works there. So the other day I went down and took a tour. It was especially nice to be given a tour by a friend. Thanks, Mary Ellen. This is Fort Crailo:

And a close up of the old Dutch brick, shutters and windows, though I'm told the windows are more in the English style and are likely a "recent" (like 1920s) renovation:

Inside I saw a Dutch door, archway and replica of Dutch armor:

These gun holes were built into the walls of the building so that settlers could shoot their muskets at any Indians, renegades or British soldiers who might threaten. This is how the building came to be called a fort:

Inside the building, figures of a Mohawk man and Dutch woman making a deal. It was how business was done:

Clay pipe, (beaver?) pelt, Dutch hat:

The old Dutch style fireplace had no sides. Imagine how smoky their houses were:

From inside the house;

Down in the stone cellar, a big brick fireplace for cooking and warmth. School children come here for educational field trips and often get to participate in a bit of cooking here:

Another look at the cellar;

Now, for what to me and many others has always been one of the main attractions of the Fort Crailo. It has traditionally been credited as the place where the song, "Yankee Doodle," was written. The city of Rensselaer used to have signs on the main roads proudly proclaiming itself to be "The Home Of Yankee Doodle." Some time back, historians began to doubt that claim and the city took down its signs. But there's still plenty of reason to believe it may be the home of the song:

The back of the house and the old well (where "Yankee Doodle" was reportedly penned) which is now filled in:

Fort Crailo was built on the shores of the Hudson River. It was a beautiful day, an interesting and historic display, and a nice visit with a friend. If you're ever in the area, take a tour:

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