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What you need to know for 04/25/2017

300-year-old house donated to Schenectady historical society

300-year-old house donated to Schenectady historical society

The Brouwer-Rosa House will soon become the property of the Schenectady County Historical Society.
300-year-old house donated to Schenectady historical society
Mary Zawacki and Rosemary B. Harrigan inside the Brouwer-Rosa House in Schenectady's Stockade.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

The 300-year-old Brouwer-Rosa House at 14 N. Church St., home to the Fred and Katy Kindl family, will soon become the property of the Schenectady County Historical Society.

Rosemary Harrigan, whose parents bought the house in 1970, confirmed that her family has set in motion plans to donate the historic Stockade home to the historical society. Harrigan’s father, Fred Kindl, died in 2009, and her mother Catherine passed away earlier this year in May.

“We are giving the society the house, and this is something my mother really wanted,” said Harrigan, who lives in Guilderland. “We’re going to help take care of the place, but eventually it will be self-sustaining. My sisters, all four of us, are on the same page. There’s no dissent. Mom was very clear that this was her wish.”

Schenectady County Historical Society president Marianne Blanchard confirmed that her group is very interested in taking over the home.

“We’re very excited about what this means to us and to the community,” said Blanchard. “It gives us an opportunity to really show what an early Dutch home in Schenectady might have looked like. We have a lot of ideas running through our heads about how we want to put it to use.”

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The Schenectady County Historical Society offices, museum and library are located in the Dora Jackson Home at 32 Washington Ave. in the Stockade, a block away from the Kindl house. The group also owns the Mabee Farm State Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.

The Brouwer-Rosa House, built for Hendrick Brouwer sometime early in the 18th century, is regarded by some local historians as the oldest house in Schenectady, although the Yates House around the corner at 109 Union St. is also from the same era.

“The Mabee House is a perfect example of what a farm was like 300 years ago, but when visitors come to our headquarters in the Stockade they see a house built in 1895,” said Blanchard. “I know they’re a bit disappointed not to see a display of what early Dutch life was like in the city. Having the Kindl house gives us an opportunity to do exactly that.

“We’re going to have more tourists coming to our city with the casino opening, and we want to share with them the wonderful history of this area,” added Blanchard. “How exactly we do that is something we’re thinking about. We’re going to take our time, get some community input and do all we can to put the Kindl house to the best possible use.”

The Kindl house has a basement, two floors and an attic area that has been upgraded and includes a bedroom and a full bathroom. There are four bedrooms in all, a small library, a dining room, a kitchen and a laundry room. The building may also have a surprise or two according to Harrigan.

“We’ve found three secret rooms, and when they built the fi replaces they had jambs on either side that had little hiding places, probably to hide them from the Indians,” said Harrigan. “There is also a secret passageway behind a wall that we think may have led to the river. As far as we know, there’s nothing to suggest that the house may have been a part of the Underground Railroad. We just think it’s a secret tunnel to again protect them from Indians.”

The home at 14 N. Church isn’t the first major donation the Kindls have made. In 2009, soon after Fred Kindl died, the family donated what is now known as the Kindl Building at 201 State St. to Schenectady County Community College. Kindl, a former GE engineer, had his own business, Encotech, in the building from 1983 to 2008.

“My parents were always interested in helping the city and the county,” said Harrigan. “They loved Schenectady and were always doing things to support the community.”

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