SCHENECTADY — Rosemary Harrigan thinks her parents, Fred and Katy Kindl, would have enjoyed seeing Tuesday's official opening of the Historical Society's latest asset.
"My mother would have been ecstatic, and my father would have been very happy, too," said Harrigan, who along with two of her three sisters officially handed the keys to 14 N. Church St. over to the Schenectady County Historical Society during a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Stockade neighborhood. "I think it's going to be a wonderful asset to the historical society and the city of Schenectady."
The four Kindl sisters decided in December to donate the early 18th-century home, also known as the Brouwer-Rosa House, to the historical society. Along with Harrigan, her sisters Patrice and Ellen Kindl were also at Tuesday's ceremony. Patrice arrived from her Schoharie County home, and Ellen flew in from Santa Barbara, California. A fourth sister, Jeanne, lives in Glens Falls.
Fred and Katy Kindl bought the house in 1970. Fred, a longtime engineer at General Electric, died in 2009, and his wife passed away in May.
"My dad didn't live as long as my mom, but it was also his wish," Harrigan said. "I was a little discouraged because we had talked about doing this before my mother died, so she didn't know for sure that it was going to happen. The historical society had to think it over because it is a lot to ask them to take on another house. But we are able to help them financially for a while, and they had the courage to say yes and take it on. So this would make my mom very, very happy."
The historical society unofficially opened the house Saturday for the Stockade Walkabout. The group's headquarters and museum are at 32 Washington Ave., just around the corner from the Brouwer-Rosa House. The society also owns and operates the Mabee Farm historic site in Rotterdam Junction.
"The Brouwer House is one of Schenectady's oldest homes, and with its deep history and central Stockade location, it's the perfect place to explore Schenectady heritage," historical society Executive Director Mary Zawacki said. "Though certainly historic, SCHS has no plans to interpret the house as a 'museum house.' Rather, we look forward to partnering with other organizations and creative individuals to make the Brouwer House a vibrant and active centerpiece of Schenectady culture filled with authentic Stockade character."
The house was built for Hendrick Brouwer sometime around 1730. Along with the Yates House just around the corner on Union Street, it has often been referred to as the oldest house in Schenectady. Visitors who walk in the house are greeted by an old Dutch fireplace, and some of the original floorboards from the home are still intact. It is a two-story home with a basement and also includes a small library or den, four bedrooms, a kitchen and a laundry room.
"We're very excited about what this means to us and to the community," historical society President Marianne Blanchard said. "It gives us an opportunity to really show what an early home in Schenectady might have looked like."