Johnson Hall State Historic Site

Johnson Hall State Historic Site Welcome to Johnson Hall State Historic Site's official page. Johnson Hall was the 18th century home of Sir William Johnson; Anglo-Irish fur trader, French and Indian War Major General, and British Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

Johnson Hall is open for tours from May 148th to October 9th. We are also open Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Tours throughout the rest of the year are by appointment only. Guided Tours of Johnson Hall Wednesday - Saturday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM Sunday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM Last tour of each day begins at 4:00 PM "Beyond the Mansion": Guided Tour of the Grounds and Former Outbuildings Running June 6th - October 10th Saturday: 1:00 PM Note: Site special events and pre-registered groups may alter the regular tour schedule. Admission Fees (per tour) Adults - $4.00 Seniors - $3.00 Children 12 and Under - Free Schools and other groups by advanced registration only. Handicapped Accessibility: Historic house 1st floor and gift shop. Staff: Site Manager - Wade Wells Curator of Education - Darlene Rogers Senior Interpreter - Michael Perazzini Maintenance Staff - Steven Simek Latitude/Longitude: 43.015976,-74.38242

05/15/2019
Season Opening

We are officially open for the season! Join us for public tours Wednesday-Saturday, 10 AM- 5 PM, and Sunday, 1 PM- 5 PM. Tomorrow public tours will begin at 1 PM due to a scheduled school group. We can't wait to see you!

How long has Johnson Hall been a tourist destination? We officially became accessible to the public in 1906 but curious ...
05/03/2019

How long has Johnson Hall been a tourist destination? We officially became accessible to the public in 1906 but curious eyes and minds were visiting long before then.

During the Johnsons' ownership of the house, guests noted the excellence of the house and its grounds, drawing individuals, from near and far, for business and pleasure. In the late 1820s, nearly fifty years after their departure from Johnstown, the repute of the Johnson family still resounded over the hall. Men and women stopped during their travels to catch a glimpse of the house, "The villa of Sir William still remains, and presents a fine appearance from the road, as you approach the village of Johnstown. It is quite in ruins but must have once been a good building." While the house fell into periods of disrepair, it continued to catch people's interest, saving 'the ruins' from destruction.

Architectural updates changed the appearance of the house, from Georgian to Victorian, but it continued to be a bedrock in the community which it helped establish. Images of Johnson Hall appeared on woodcuts and eventually on souvenir plates and spoons, sold at local stores, allowing visitors to remember their time at the historic site.

Will you continue in the tradition of "stopping by" this season? Once again we will be opening the doors of Johnson Hall for guided, public tours beginning May 15th. Exciting preservation work and the acquisition of reproduction furnishings will give an enhanced look to 18th century life on New York's frontier.

Have you ever wondered how expense reports help us interpret the past? Here is a peek at Sir William's expenses for the ...
03/08/2019

Have you ever wondered how expense reports help us interpret the past? Here is a peek at Sir William's expenses for the Department of Indian Affairs from May 12-16, 1755.

During this time, the power struggle between Britain and France continued in North America through the French and Indian War. Maintaining good relations with the Haudenosaunee was essential in the fight. Not only did the British wish to remain safe crossing through Haudenosaunee lands but also convincing them to support the British. Through a few entries we can see the difficult but important role the Haudenosaunee held between the two European powers.

By reading letters in correlation to the specific dates mentioned we can gain even better insight into the political climate in the colony of New York. On May 14, 1755, Thomas Butler in Oswego wrote to Sir William,

"Yesterday eveing thirty three French Battoes past here, being that party I wrote of per Jos: Wells. I count they were between three & foure hundred Men. I lern by an Anonida indian that a large body of French with a considerable Number of Indians Are Soon to follow and after them The Grand Army"

Ironically, Butler sent this letter on the same day that it appears Sir William took action on the information he previously had received regarding movement of French troops. As the account states the strings of wampum would help secure safer travel for British troops on their way to Oswego.

Who knew an expense report could be so fascinating?

We recently received these hand block printed samples from Adelphi Paper Hangings, LLC in Sharon Springs, NY, for our on...
02/22/2019

We recently received these hand block printed samples from Adelphi Paper Hangings, LLC in Sharon Springs, NY, for our ongoing wallpaper project. The Friends of Johnson Hall applied for a grant which enabled us to have this Pillar and Arch design created. Adelphi's skilled artistry and attention to detail has helped bring 18th century style back into Johnson Hall. We can hardly contain our excitement in seeing the hallways on both floors papered in the future!

On this day in 1772, Philip Schuyler wrote the following to Sir William: “The bill for the partition of Albany is so f...
01/18/2019

On this day in 1772, Philip Schuyler wrote the following to Sir William: “The bill for the partition of Albany is so far advanced that It is already under commitment, and I believe will soon pass, In which case, it will be absolutely necessary to have the new county divided Into districts, I am so totally Ignorant of what a proper division would be that I must entreat you to furnish me with the bounds of each.”

Concerns over Albany county’s size were brought before New York’s General Assembly in 1769. For families living in the westernmost regions, difficulties arose due to their great distance from the county seat’s resources, including the courthouse and jailhouse. By 1771, more than one hundred men signed a petition for the creation of a new county, outlining where they believed the new county lines should be established.

Two months following Schuyler’s letter, the partition of Albany county was passed, creating Tryon County. Five districts were established in Tryon: Canajoharie, German Flatts, Kingsland, Mohawk, and Palatine. The advanced infrastructure of Johnstown made it the ideal location for the county seat with a courthouse and jailhouse constructed later in 1772. The courthouse continues to conduct legal proceedings, standing the test of time.

This week in 1770, Normand McLeod was hoping for a snowfall which would aid him in a delivery to Sir William.
01/09/2019

This week in 1770, Normand McLeod was hoping for a snowfall which would aid him in a delivery to Sir William.

12/12/2018

We are continuing our Holiday Sale in our gift shop. Enjoy 20% off all of our merchandise. We have history books, toys for kids, music & more! Don't miss out on purchasing some of our Kingsborough Mulled Cider spices, a festive drink for your holiday parties.

Our gift shop will be open 12/13-14, and 12/19-21 from 10 AM-5 PM.

Imagine these beautiful, tin icicles reflecting the lights and ornaments on your tree this holiday season!We will be sel...
11/07/2018

Imagine these beautiful, tin icicles reflecting the lights and ornaments on your tree this holiday season!

We will be selling packets of these hand-twisted, tin icicles in our gift shop during our Holiday Open House on November 30, the perfect time to start decorating. Each packet contains 12 icicles.

Hunting and Harvesting: Preparing for Winter in the 18th Century will be held at Johnson Hall State Historic Site on Sat...
10/03/2018

Hunting and Harvesting: Preparing for Winter in the 18th Century will be held at Johnson Hall State Historic Site on Saturday, October 6 from 11am to 4pm.

At 11:00am and again at 2:30pm, historian Paul Supley will display and discuss staple Mohawk Valley crops and harvesting methods used in the 18th century to reap wheat, barley and corn. He will demonstrate the use of such tools as the sickle and flail and discuss the methods used to harvest, process, store and ship these important products.

Culinary historian Sara Evenson, owner of Dunk Hill Drygoods, will be on hand in the slaves quarter throughout the afternoon to discuss the process of preparing harvested meats and vegetables for storage and use over the winter in the 18th century. She will have a display of foods to demonstrate various techniques for drying, jarring, pickling, salting and smoking.

Hunting was a necessity for living on the frontier of 18th century New York. Game taken in the fall would be smoked or salted to provide a supply of meat for families over the long winters. Throughout the afternoon, Historic Site Manager Wade Wells will discuss hunting in the 18th century for sport and survival. He will display examples of powder horns, shot and game bags, hunting firearms and edged weapons used to hunt and carry game. He will also discuss examples of furs taken as a by-product of hunting which were traded for goods or could be used as winter clothing.

The event is free, and donations to support the ongoing historic restoration of Johnson Hall are appreciated. This is a Path Through History Weekend event.

08/31/2018

During Johnson Hall’s construction, Sir William probably never envisioned individuals outside his family one day claiming it as their home. As plunders went to the victors of the American Revolution though, his loyalist heirs would say farewell to their home and holdings in the Mohawk Valley.

Our interpretation at the site ends with the Johnsons’ departure north and visitors will often ask about the various individuals who lived here after the Hall was auctioned off. Several other notable personalities with impressive accomplishments of their own lived within the hall’s walls. A naval captain, farmers, and millers called our site home for a portion of their lives. Follow along as we highlight the other residents of Johnson Hall in the weeks to come.

Stop at our gift shop to take advantage of the Season Specials! Now is a good time to buy some gifts for the upcoming ho...
08/25/2018

Stop at our gift shop to take advantage of the Season Specials! Now is a good time to buy some gifts for the upcoming holidays. From now until the end of our season (October 8th) enjoy discounted prices on these items:

Books:
“a dirty, trifling piece of business…” (Volume 1) and “I am heartily ashamed….” (Volume 2) - $35.00/set
"Stark: The Life and Wars of John Stark"- $15.00
"Iroquois Diplomacy on the American Frontier"- $10.00
"Everett Report in Historical Perspective: The Indians of New York "- $5.00
"Historical Discourse….Battle of Lake George" - $5.00

Also:
Mini 9 Pins set - $5.00
Handmade Tin Lantern with Masonic Symbol - $50.00 each

08/16/2018

Our site has the privilege to share Molly Brant's life and her powerful role in Mohawk history with our visitors. There are numerous sites throughout NY to discover more about the Haudenosaunee. Sites such as Ganondagan State Historic Site, Seneca-Iroquois National Museum, and the Iroquois Indian Museum preserve and celebrate Haudenosaunee culture of the past and its continuation today. We encourage our visitors to delve deeper into NY state history through historic sites and museums to better understand the development of the areas where we live.

On this day, we observe the 244th anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s death on July 11, 1774. The following day Guy J...
07/11/2018

On this day, we observe the 244th anniversary of Sir William Johnson’s death on July 11, 1774. The following day Guy Johnson wrote the proceeding lines to Thomas Gage:

“Sir,
With the deepest and most sensible concern It is my duty to acquaint your Excellency with the sudden departure of my much honored & Worthy Father in Law, Sir Wm. Johnson who died at 8 O’clock last Night; he had been for some days afflicted with his former Complaints, which gave him the more Concern as it was a time when his health and Viguor was much required to Support him thro the fatigues of a Critical Congress in which he over exerted himself: Two days Since he seemed somewhat easier, but Yesterday evening he Was taken Suddenly ill with a fainting and sense of suffocation which notwithstanding all the Assistance afforded by his Nephew D r. Dease, & others carried him off in two hours. — The Indians (who are here to a considerable Number) assembled in much Confusion, and were desirous of Sending a belt instantaneously off thro' all the Nations, but I Judged it more prudent to wait till this day when a more digested Message could be sent, and in the Meantime Colº.Claus & I, assured them that the public Affairs should be conducted as usual.”

The sudden death of Sir William sent ripples of sadness across the colony of New York. The Johnson family mourned the death of their patriarch while the Indian nations lamented the loss of a dear friend and ally. It would be difficult to find a man quite as knowledgeable and diplomatic to champion the role of British Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

Sir William left a legacy which impacts Johnstown every day. His founding and funding of establishments in Johnstown such as St. John's Episcopal Church, St. Patrick’s Masonic Lodge, the court house and jail, allowed the city to grow into the vibrant and historically rich community we live in today, for that we are grateful.

If you would like to pay your respects to Sir William we will have an Open House this Saturday during our lecture series Disease, Death & Mourning. The house will be draped accordingly in mourning as we observe Sir William’s death.

Did you know Sir William's baronetcy granted him specific privileges even after his death? From the patent of baronetcy ...
07/06/2018

Did you know Sir William's baronetcy granted him specific privileges even after his death? From the patent of baronetcy given to Sir William by King George II in 1755:

"FURTHER WEE do hereby grant that the said William Johnson and his said Heirs Male shall have two Assistants of the Body to Support the pall one principal Mourner and four Assistants to the same principal Mourner in their ffunerals..."

Join us for our lecture series Disease, Death & Mourning on July 14th to learn more about funerary and medical practices of the 18th century.

Happy 245th Anniversary to Sir John Johnson and Mary, Lady Johnson! Sir William’s oldest son married Mary “Polly” ...
06/29/2018

Happy 245th Anniversary to Sir John Johnson and Mary, Lady Johnson!

Sir William’s oldest son married Mary “Polly” Watts in 1773 and moved into Fort Johnson to begin their lives together.

As stated by Thomas Moncriefe in a letter to Sir William in 1771, Mary “Polly” Watts was one of the most desirable women in New York City:

“What is the reason (if I may be so bold, as the Yankee says) that you don’t send Sir Jno here-the finest race of Young women I ever saw are at present in New York. I should be glad to see him disposed of to one of these beauties. Polly Watts, Hannah Vanhorne, Betsey her sister, an angel, Sukey Vanhorn, if I was two & twenty, I would not wish for more than her, & six thousand bottles of her father’s old wine.”

While we don’t know how many bottles of wine Mary "Polly" Watts father John possessed, he was an affluent and respectable man. Not only was John Watts a merchant and banker but he served on the Provincial Assembly and Governor’s Council of NY as well. Polly Watts also held ties to the Delanceys through her mother Anne Delancey Watts. No doubt the position and status of Polly’s family would have been looked upon favorably by Sir William; Mary “Polly” Watts was a suitable match for Sir John.

Neither Sir John nor Mary “Polly” Watts could have predicted the tumultuous years to come on their wedding day. A year into their marriage Sir William would unexpectedly die, leaving Sir John a vast estate at Johnson Hall and the title of 2nd Baronet of New York.

Sir John and Mary, Lady Johnson had few years to enjoy their inherited estate. The Mohawk Valley would soon become hostile and violent during the American Revolution. The animosity and fear between neighbors, and threat of arrest would force Sir John to flee for Canada and Mary, Lady Johnson to be taken to Albany under house arrest, due to their unwavering support of the Crown. Upon the Rebel victory during the American Revolution, Sir John and Mary, Lady Johnson would live out the rest of their married days in Canada.

Thank you to everyone who attended our Master Plan Informational Meeting this past Monday. We appreciate all the comment...
06/13/2018
Johnson Hall gets public input | News, Sports, Jobs - Leader Herald

Thank you to everyone who attended our Master Plan Informational Meeting this past Monday. We appreciate all the comments and suggestions that were given throughout the evening.

http://www.leaderherald.com/news/local-news/2018/06/johnson-hall-gets-public-input/

JOHNSTOWN — The Baronial home of influential 18th Century landowner Sir William Johnson was given the once over by the public Monday night at Johnstown High S

Do you recognize this house?Before Johnson Hall became a historic site in 1906, the Aiken and Wells families lived here....
05/25/2018

Do you recognize this house?

Before Johnson Hall became a historic site in 1906, the Aiken and Wells families lived here. During the 19th century, Victorian features such as bay windows and a cupola were added onto the original building. The original slave quarters became housing for servants.

Following state acquisition, steps were taken to remove these additions to restore the building to its original Georgian style. The restoration of Johnson Hall has come a long way since this photograph was taken. We continue in our historic preservation efforts today, seeking to restore both the exterior and interior of this historic home.

We appreciate all the runners, organizers, and volunteers who braved the rainy weather on Saturday to participate in the...
05/23/2018

We appreciate all the runners, organizers, and volunteers who braved the rainy weather on Saturday to participate in the Johnson Jog. We had over 140 runners and 50 volunteers who helped the jog go smoothly. As always, it was a pleasure to see community members of all ages supporting The Friends of Johnson Hall and their efforts of historic preservation on our site.

Take a step back in History and experience what it was like to view a Regimental Drill or meet with a British recruiting...
05/03/2018

Take a step back in History and experience what it was like to view a Regimental Drill or meet with a British recruiting party!

The 24th Regiment of Foot will be garrisoned in the Southwest stonehouse at Johnson Hall this weekend May 5th & 6th from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM each day.

The regiment will be drilling throughout each day practicing their manual of arms and meeting with persons interested in participating in 18th century living history.

Are you prepared to take the King’s shilling?

The regiment is currently seeking new members and will be happy to explain how you could become a member of one of the area’s finest living history regiments.

Johnson Hall State Historic Site Manager Wade Wells will be displaying and discussing the diet and foods that were provided to the average British soldier during the American Revolution.

The mansion will be open both days for tours, regular admission will apply.

For more information please contact Historic Site Manager, Wade Wells at 518-762-8712

Address

139 Hall Ave
Johnstown, NY
12095

Opening Hours

Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(518) 762-8712

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