The Upper Hudson: Four Centuries of Craft and Commerce


May 2 – 6, 2018

Our spring gathering stretches west from Albany to Cooperstown, and south to Hudson. First settled as a fur-trading post in 1614, Albany is the oldest continuously chartered city in the United States. Sitting at the northern end of the Hudson River’s navigable waters, the city became an important commercial and transportation hub. The region’s significance was cemented by the opening of the Erie Canal, followed by one of the first railroad systems in the world. The area’s cultural life and historic sites reflect the successive influences of the Dutch settlers, English colonists, and Gilded Age industrialists. Participants enjoy an in-depth introduction to an extraordinary variety of collections and historic structures.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, May 3

  • Welcoming Remarks and Opening Lecture, Cornerstone at the Plaza
    The Architectural and Historical Development of the City of Albany
    Tony Opalka, City of Albany Historian, Historic Albany Foundation
  • Opening Reception at Cornerstone on the Plaza, overlooking the stunning civic architecture of Albany’s Capitol Hill district.

Friday, May 4


The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture Session

  • Stepped Gables and Anchor Beams: Early New York Dutch Houses and their Furnishings
    Peter M. Kenny, Co-President, Classical American Homes Preservation Trust
  • 226 Years of Art, History, and Culture in New York State’s Oldest Museum
    Tammis Groft, Executive Director, Albany Institute of History and Art
  • Erie Canal: Icon for a Young Nation
    Duncan Hay, Historian, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
  • In Preparation for a Centennial: Interior Restoration and Conservation Projects at Schuyler Mansion
    Heidi Hill, Historic Site Manager, Crailo and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Sites
  • Lunch at the nearby Fort Orange Club, situated in the former Samuel Hill Mansion (1812), attributed to Philip Hooker, a prolific Federal-era architect.
  • Our afternoon introduces participants to three iconic sites in the region. Founded in 1791, the Albany Institute of History and Art is one of the oldest continuously operating museums in the United States. We enjoy behind-the-scenes curatorial tours of the impressive collection of decorative and fine arts, with their particular focus on the Hudson River Valley.
  • Between 1761 and 1765, Revolutionary War General and U.S. Senator Philip Schuyler built Schuyler Mansion for his family, who have returned to prominence through the Broadway hit Hamilton. The house celebrated its centennial as a museum in October 2017, and we are treated to a comprehensive tour of the recently restored interior.
  • A short distance south of Albany, the circa 1720 Peter Winne House is one of the most well-preserved examples of early Dutch architecture in the area. Privately owned, most of the original features were lovingly restored in 2000. A room from the nearby house of Pieter’s son Daniel is now on view in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing.

Saturday, May 5


We venture from Albany to nearby Troy, first settled in 1787. While an 1820 fire destroyed most of the city’s 18th-century structures, the community served as an early seat of the industrial revolution and experienced great wealth.

  • Founded in 1795, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is one of the oldest congregations in Troy. The 1828 building is a fine example of early Gothic Revival architecture. Structural renovations during the 1890s precipitated a complete redecoration of the interior by the workshop of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The space remains one of the few Tiffany ecclesiastical interiors in situ, and participants will enjoy a scholarly introduction to the space from Tiffany historian Joshua Probert.
  • Built in 1827, the Federal-style Hart-Cluett House survives in a remarkable state of preservation. Now the museum of the Rensellaer County Historical Society, the main floor interprets life in 19th-century Troy, with a particular focus on the Hart family, who extensively documented their use of and changes to the house during a 60-year occupancy.
  • We have the privilege of visiting a splendid private collection in a 1903 George Fuller structure that is Troy’s earliest steel-framed skyscraper. Highlights include furniture by the Phyfe and Quervelle workshops as well as examples by other East Coast cabinetmakers.
  • Lunch at the University Club in Albany

In the afternoon, participants may select from one of two tours of downtown Albany, or are free to explore on their own.

  • For those interested in the Capitol Hill district, there is no better place to begin than the New York State Museum, whose holdings include the Wunsch Americana Collection of New York furniture, as well as regionally made stoneware. A guided walking tour of Albany’s civic core, with its wide range of high style architecture from across the centuries, will focus on the New York State Capitol and end with a private visit to Albany’s opulent Masonic Lodge, both Gilded Age gems by prominent architects.
  • Early history aficionados do not want to miss an architectural tour of downtown, including a special visit to the 1728 Van Ostrande-Radliff House, Albany’s oldest extant structure, where archaeologists discuss findings uncovered by current restoration work. A walking tour of Pearl Street highlights Albany’s history during the Dutch and early English settlement periods, ending at Philip Hooker’s 1799 First Reformed Church, the architect’s first major commission.

Sunday, May 6

  • Textiles in the Historic Interior – A Look at Curating, Conserving, and Interpreting
    Deborah Trupin, Textile and Upholstery Conservator, Trupin Conservation Servics, LLC and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology.             
  • The Marie Zimmermann Emerging Scholar Lecture
    Woven Together: Women, Weavers, and Jacquard Coverlets in New York State
    Britney Schline Yatrakis, Independent Historian, Troy, New York
  • Returning Unrepresented Communities to New York State Historic Sites
    Jennifer Dorsey, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Siena College
  • Symposium concludes


Pre-Symposium Optional Tour: Culture and Craft Along the Mohawk Valley

We are delighted to offer a new format for our pre-symposium tour, and look forward to bringing participants through the Mohawk Valley for an overnight visit to Cooperstown!

Wednesday, May 2


Our itinerary begins with a rare private visit to Thistle Hill Weavers and Adelphi Paper Hangings where we learn about these historic crafts from the talented professionals dedicated to keeping these traditions alive. We tour Philip Hooker’s storied Hyde Hall, built between 1817 and 1834 for the wealthy English landowner George Clarke. Meticulous family records document the complete interior furnishings, and participants enjoy the extraordinary opportunity to experience the interiors lit by historic 19th-century light fixtures during a reception.

Thursday, May 3


After an overnight stay in an historic Cooperstown hotel, we receive a taste of the region’s rich heritage at The Fenimore Art Museum and the Farmer’s Museum. Heading back east, a lunch stop in Canajoharie is the perfect opportunity to visit the extraordinary collections of the Arkell Museum, where paintings from some of America’s foremost artists mix with superb collections of local history.

We continue to Johnson Hall, the mid-18th-century home of Sir William Johnson, an Irish pioneer and colonial Superintendent of Indian Affairs. The period rooms reflect the house’s role as a busy trading outpost between the varied cultures that met there.

Our final stop is Mabee Farm. Jan Pieterse Mabee bought the property in 1705, building a stone house that is now the oldest extant structure in the Mohawk Valley. In addition to early Dutch life and culture, the site portrays canal history, as the New York State Barge Canal passes along the property.

Registration is limited.

Sunday Optional Tour: Hudson: An Antiquarian’s Dream

Sunday, May 6

11:30am – 7:00pm

Chartered as a city in 1785, the city of Hudson rapidly grew into an active port, and came within one vote of being named the New York state capital in 1797. The city’s sustained prosperity is highlighted by hundreds of buildings eligible for State and National Historic registers, leading to the moniker “the nation’s finest dictionary of American Architecture.” A group of antiques dealers jump-started Hudson’s revival by opening a series of shops in the mid-1980s. After lunch, participants enjoy some free time to explore a few of the 70 antiques stores in the town center – just remember, all purchases must be able to fit on the bus!

Along with a splendid private collection in Hudson, we are treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, an 1811 building renovated by Alexander Jackson Davis in 1849 and an early example of what became his trademark Hudson River Bracketed Style. The structure is now under the care of Historic Hudson, Inc., and is undergoing a sensitive restoration.

We head down the road to Germantown, where we have the opportunity to enjoy the Sybil and Alfred Nadel’s collection of American art pottery. Their 19th-century home was modified in the 1970s by muralist and decorative painter Robert Jackson, whose work is found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other historic sites. The Nadels have kept his murals intact throughout the house, gently modifying rooms to better display their extraordinary ceramics.

Our final stop of the day is a reception at Versailles on the Hudson, the home of Trust members Pegg Nadler and Michael Devitt. The 1901 house illustrates a transition of style between late Queen Anne and early Colonial Revival. Pegg and Michael maintain a collection of antique family pieces from Australia, and designed an extraordinary, award-winning garden overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains.


Fundraiser for the Emerging Scholars Program at the Home of Lynn Kopka

Friday, May 4


We are honored by the invitation of Lynn Kopka to visit her 1848 row house overlooking Troy’s Washington Park, one of only two surviving private parks in the country. Her collection of period-appropriate furnishings and art contributes to the home’s historic ambiance. As president of the Washington Park Association, Ms. Kopka is an advocate for the preservation of the historic neighborhood, which was prominently featured in Martin Scorsese’s award-winning Age of Innocence. In addition to Ms. Kopka’s gracious hospitality, a selection of neighboring Washington Park homes will be open to us during the event, providing a rare privilege to appreciate the architectural significance of the neighborhood.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast our hostess’ hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2018, more than four dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.

  • The Renaissance Albany Hotel
    Special Room Rate: $169
    The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for May 1, and May 3-6. These rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis until April 10. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling (518) 992-2500 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust.
  • The hotel is 10 miles from Albany International Airport (ALB) and 1.5 miles from the Rensselaer Rail Station. If driving, hotel parking is available for $22 per day.
Terms and Conditions

By registering for this symposium, I/we do hereby release The Decorative Arts Trust from any and all liability in connection with the symposium, The Upper Hudson: Four Centuries of Craft and Commerce , for any loss, delay, injury, or damage to or in respect to any person or property however the cause for arising. It is understood that The Decorative Arts Trust has acted as agent for me/us in providing means of transportation or other services and The Decorative Arts Trust is not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time I am/we are participating in this program, and this evidences my/our understanding that The Decorative Arts Trust has not now, nor will have in the future, any liability to me/us due to any consequences arising out of said program or in connection with said program.

Cancellation and Refund:
All cancellations received prior to February 2 are subject to a full refund less a $50 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between February 2 and April 2 will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after April 2.



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