Ulster County invites you to the Persen House, one of our oldest, most significant buildings. This house has witnessed so many important moments in Ulster County's history. It was burned at least twice, saw wars and revolution and was home to doctors, tailors, grocers, druggists and innkeepers. As you walk through the House, you walk through time. Please join us at the Persen House located at 74 John Street, Kingston, New York 12401 and let us take you on a tour and bring Ulster County's rich history alive!
The Persen House, named after its longest resident Matthewis Persen (1739-1819), and owned by Ulster County since 1914, has undergone extensive restoration since emergency repairs in 1999 revealed its historical significance. A Historic Structure Report discovered that it was built in five phases from 1661 to 1922. The house has witnessed the entire history of Kingston and even pre-dates the formation of Ulster County, so by touring the house, guests learn many important aspects of our local history!
The Matthewis Persen House Museum & Cultural Heritage Center functions as Ulster County's Heritage Gateway. Cultural heritage groups from throughout the county guest host at the House each weekend and share their treasure troves of history and culture with the visitors. The Persen House has received 12,510 visitors during the 2010 through 2014 seasons which includes 359 international visitors representing 32 different countries.
Historical societies and cultural groups from around the county have lined up again this season to host at the House on Kingston Farmers Market Saturdays. Each year we greet new Guest Hosts to the House, and welcome back returning Guest Hosts. These Guest Hosts feature exhibits, lectures, programs, and even re-enactments! Please see the Persen House Annual Schedule for all Guest Host information and activities taking place this season. It is sure to be an exciting year as we continue to keep Ulster County's history alive!
This year marks a very exciting time for the Persen House as the House will be the focus of the re-enactment of the Burning of Kingston. Kingston was a key location for numerous historical events during the Revolutionary War. It was New York State's first capital and witnessed the signing of the New York State Constitution. The British saw Kingston as a hotbed for rebel activity and on October 16, 1777 British troops burned Kingston to the ground.
During the weekend of October 16-18, 2015, the British will once again seize Kingston in an exciting and dramatic re-enactment. Join the rebels on Friday night as they hold a meeting at the Persen House to discuss the impending attack by British forces coming up the Hudson River. Follow the British on Saturday as they march from the waterfront to the Persen House, all while fighting the local militia. Experience the Siege of the Persen House as the rebels and British fight for control of the House and of Kingston. It's sure to be a fun-filled weekend for all!
In connection with the Burning of Kingston, Nina Postupack, Ulster County Clerk is sponsoring an exhibit, titled "Whispers of Revolution: Matthewis Persen's Tavern and the Burning of Kingston." This exhibit invites the visitor to learn more about Matthewis Persen's tavern, and the events of the first Burning of Kingston in 1777. The exhibit also features some of the artifacts found in the house that date to circa 1777.
In addition, the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History hosts an exhibit at the Persen House titled, "Rondout Revisited", which highlights the three stages in the history of the Rondout. The three phases highlighted in the exhibit include circa 1820, circa 1914 and The Urban Renewal Years.
The house is open Tuesday through Friday 9am to 4:30pm and Saturdays from 9am to 3pm from May 23, 2015 through September 5, 2015. Then Saturdays from 10am to 2pm from September 12, 2015 through November 21, 2015. Admission is free so please join us at the Persen House! Tours can be arranged by appointment as well.
For further information about this and other outreach programs of the Ulster County Clerk's Office or if you are interested in guest hosting at the House please call Ulster County Clerk Nina Postupack at (845) 340-3040.