A: The Persen House has been the home of doctors, tailors, innkeepers, druggists, grocers, and Ulster County government. It was burned at least twice, saw wars and revolution, and survived to tell its tale. To walk through this remarkable building, is to walk through Ulster County’s rich local history! The Persen House functions as Ulster County’s Heritage Gateway. Cultural heritage groups from throughout the county guest host at the House and share their treasure troves of history & culture with visitors.
Q: What is the purpose/function of the Persen House?
Q: Why is the house historically important?
A: The earliest portion of the Persen House dates from c. 1661 and is one of four landmark buildings on each corner of John and Crown Streets in Kingston. This intersection is the only intersection in the United States with 18th century stone houses on all four corners. The house was built in 5 distinct phases from 1661 to 1922 and the phases represent distinct eras of American history; from the Dutch colonists, to the Revolutionary War, to the Industrial Revolution.
Q: How did the house get its name?
A: The Persen House is named for its longest living resident, Matthewis Persen. Born in the house in 1739 to Cornelius and Catharina Persen, Matthewis lived and worked out of this house until his death in 1819 at age 80.
Q: Why is the house unfinished?
A: Restoration of the Persen house began in 1999 after the occupants were moved out due to structural instability. During the restoration, the historic significance of the structure was uncovered and the decision was made to remove the contemporary walls to reveal the five different phases of the house. The house it left open to highlight the architectural significance of the different phases and how they interact with one another.
Q: Where is the Persen House located? Where can I park?
A: The Persen House is located at 74 John Street in uptown Kingston within Kingston’s Stockade National Historic District. Its earliest portions date from c.1661 and it is one of four landmark buildings on each corner of John and Crown Streets. This is the only known intersection in the United States with pre-revolutionary stone houses on all four corners. Metered parking lots and on-street parking are available throughout the uptown Kingston area on weekdays. The Ulster County Courthouse on Wall Street has limited availability during the week, but is completely available on the weekends. The Ulster County Office Building on the corner of Main & Fair Streets offers free weekend parking. There is also free parking at the Kingston Plaza every day, less than a half mile walk from the house.
Q: What is the Stockade National Historic District? Why is the Persen House a part of it? What else is there to do/see in the Stockade area?
A: The Stockade National District is commonly referred to as Uptown Kingston and it is the original site of the Dutch Settlement of Wiltwyck. In 1658, Director General Peter Stuyvesant ordered the residents of Esopus and the surrounding area to move their homes to a defensible location and surround it with palisades, or a stockade. This order was made to prevent attacks from the local Native Americans. The order itself is the oldest record in the Ulster County Archives! The stockade was expanded in 1661, 1670, and 1677. The Persen House was built in 1661 within the southern border of the first expansion. The current day Stockade District incorporates all of the area within the final stockade in 1677.
Q: Is the house open all year?
A: Currently, the Persen House is only open from Memorial Day weekend through mid-November or by appointment. From the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend to the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, the house is open Tuesday through Saturday. After Labor Day, the house is open Saturdays only through the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. See our Season Schedule for more specific dates and times as well as special events and exhibits.
Q: Do you give group tours?
A: Yes. The Persen House receives many groups for tours each season. Tours are catered to the needs of the group, whether for grade school students, college students, tourists or local community groups, the Persen House has something for everyone. Please contact us to Schedule a Tour.
Q: Do you have an admission fee?
A: No. Admission is free.
Q: Do you take monetary donations?
A: No. The Persen House is a County-owned museum and, as such, does not accept monetary donations.