The hype around "Hamilton" hasn't diminished at Albany's Philip Schuyler Mansion since the Broadway show opened at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York during the late summer of 2015.
"We've had three summer seasons of increased visitation, and every focus tour we do has been filled up," said Michelle Mavigliano, interpretive programs assistant at the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site in Albany's South End. "It's been very consistent, it hasn't let up yet, and we don't expect it too this season."
Currently closed for the year until April, the Schuyler Mansion will kick off its 2019 with "Salutations for the Season," Saturday from 4-7 p.m at the mansion. Site director Heidi Hill and her staff will also be holding a holiday event across the Hudson River at Crailo, home to the Schuyler in-laws, the Van Rensselaers.
While the Broadway musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of our country's Founding Fathers and the first Secretary of the Treasury, a visit to the Schuyler Mansion gives you a little more insight into his in-laws. Hamilton married into the family on December 14, 1780, taking Elizabeth Schuyler as his wife.
"We're having an evening of merriment, and people visiting the house will see it as if they were attending a party in the late 18th century," said Mavigliano. "It will be an open house, and we'll have period musicians on both floors. They'll be plenty of hot waissal and other refreshments, and we should have a bonfire going on outside."
The Schuylers were of Dutch descent and would have been celebrating the Feast of Epiphany, says Mavigliano, not Christmas.
"Christmas was not the big thing it is today in the 18th century," she said. "People may have gone to church on Christmas, but there was no big event associated with it. We know this from reading all of the family letters. The Feast of Epiphany was more of an event, and it was an opportunity for the tenant farmers to visit the elite landowners and enjoy some waissal. It was the same things with the English. For both cultures in America, the Epiphany was the bigger day."
The staff at Schuyler Mansion are pretending that this Saturday night is actually a Saturday night in January of 1785, when Hamilton was busy working in New York City.
"We're focusing on a year that doesn't particularly get a lot of attention," Mavigliano of 1785, "We know that Hamilton wasn't in Albany in January of that year, but people were talking about him. He was involved in the Trespass Act and the issue of state's rights superceding federal law. It was about loyalists losing land and property during the American Revolution, and Hamilton was defending the loyalists."
While the late 19th century was typically a happy time at the Schuyler Mansion, things quickly took a sad twist. Hamilton was shot and killed in a duel with Aaron Burr on July 11, 1804, and Schuyler, a general during the American Revolution, died four months later on Nov. 18 at the age of 71.
While much is known about Hamilton the man, it's hard to zero in on Schuyler's personality according to Mavigliano.
"It's hard to say too much about Schuyler," she said. "My own personal impression is that he was a very 'correct' man and a good legistics guy. There's no doubt his family loved him, but the militia from New England couldn't stand him. Much like Hamilton, he was a very complex person."
Providing 18th century music for Saturday's event will be Liaisons Plaisantes and Royal Felicity. While the Schuyler Mansion is typically open April through September, the staff has been available for reservation-only tours on Thursday and Saturday. Those have come to an end as the Schuyler Mansion is undergoing some renovation, but are expected to resume in February.
For more information on the Schuyler Mansion or Crailo check their Facebook pages.
'Salutions of the Season'
WHERE: Schuyler Mansion, 32 Catherine St., Albany, and Crailo, 9 1/2 Riverside Ave., Rensselaer
WHEN: 4-7 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: Single-site tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students and $1 for 12-and-under; combo tickets also available
MORE INFO: Visit Schuyler Mansion and Crailo State Historic Site on Facebook