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.
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Johnson Hall is open for tours from May 15th to October 13th. 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 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 Maintenance Staff - Steven Simek Latitude/Longitude: 43.015976,-74.38242

A soldier's point of view. Did you know the stone houses at Johnson Hall were designed to serve as defensive structures?...
11/15/2019

A soldier's point of view. Did you know the stone houses at Johnson Hall were designed to serve as defensive structures?

News of peace, concerning the French and Indian War, first reached Johnson Hall the beginning of February 1763, with a detailed account outlined to Henry Gladwin by Sir William in April, "...you will undoubtedly have heard the Preliminaries having been signed towards a General Peace between England, France & Spain...all Canada ceded to us by France, Florida by Spain and the River Mississippi to be our boundary towds. Louisiana..." With the signing of the Treaty of Paris nearly two months earlier, a political shift took shape in North America.

While the British hashed out peace with France and Spain, American Indians experienced aftershocks from the Treaty of Paris. Tensions began to rise as native nations in the Ohio and Illinois territories, accustomed to the French, were now forced to deal strictly with the British government. Combined with the establishment of military outposts and English settlers encroaching farther onto their land, rumblings of an uprising circulated among nations from the west to the east. Sir William relayed such information to General Jeffrey Amherst, "Altho all the Indian Nations were as he [speaker of the Onondaga nation] said become very Jealous of the English, who had erected so many Posts in their Country, but were not so generous to them as the French, and particularly gave them no Amunition, which was the chief cause of their Jealousy & Discontent."

The contentious years following the Treaty of Paris in 1763 became known as Pontiac's Rebellion, named after the Ottawan chief who encouraged a unified front & attack from American Indians against British control. The Seneca nation supported the call to action and British officials, worried over potential attacks on New York's frontier and outposts, deployed troops to protect those areas.

On at least two occasions soldiers were ordered to Johnson Hall, the first ordered by General Jeffrey Amherst from Fort Stanwix in the fall of 1763. It remains unclear if these troops ever arrived. The second came by order of General Gage, as Robert Elliot, Lieutenant Colonel of the 55th Regiment of Foot wrote in April 1764, "Agreeable to Genl. Gages Orders to me I send with the bearer Serjt. Anderson fourteen good Men (of my own company) to remain at Johnson Hall." Throughout Pontiac’s Rebellion Johnson Hall escaped the misfortunes of any raids. This photo was taken from one of the loopholes in the original stone house still standing at Johnson Hall.

Johnson Hall has the sights and sounds covered for our Holiday Open House but we need your help with the taste! The Frie...
11/14/2019

Johnson Hall has the sights and sounds covered for our Holiday Open House but we need your help with the taste! The Friends of Johnson Hall are accepting donations of cookies for our guests (over 300 last year!) to enjoy with mulled cider. Cookies may be dropped off on December 6th between 10 AM and 3 PM. Johnson Hall is thankful for all the support we receive from our community and neighbors!

Can't get enough of the holiday spirit? Historic sites throughout the Mohawk Valley will be decorated this holiday seaso...
11/12/2019

Can't get enough of the holiday spirit? Historic sites throughout the Mohawk Valley will be decorated this holiday season! Join in the merriment at Herkimer Home on December 7th, 1-4 PM. Enjoy horse drawn wagon rides, an open hearth cooking demonstration, and refreshments. Admission is $3 per person, children 12 and under are free.

Have you ever snapped multiple pictures on your phone to get that perfect angle for a selfie? Don’t worry, you aren’t al...
10/31/2019

Have you ever snapped multiple pictures on your phone to get that perfect angle for a selfie? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone, even colonial men and women desired to be painted in the best light. Sir William himself notably complained about his appearance in one of his early portraits. On October 31st, 1754 he wrote to his father:

“As I cannot wait of you myself yet a while, I send you my Picture, wh. I had drawn four years ago, the Drapery I would have altered, but here is no Painter now can do it, the greatest fault in it is, the narrow hanging Shoulder, wh. I beg you may get altered as Mine are very broad and square.”

As you can see Sir William was looking for some “photoshop” himself back in the day. It is speculated that Sir William was referring to the portrait he sat for by John Wollaston, pictured below, but Sir William never mentioned a specific artist within the letter to his father.

10/24/2019
Sir William's Desk

Not everything is as it seems; that can certainly be said of this 18th century desk. Clever designs of desks and secretaries enabled colonial men and women to conceal documents, correspondence, and other personal effects from the naked eye. Secret spaces could be discovered if one knew what to look for. This video shows two inconspicuous drawers in the 18th century desk furnished in Sir William and Molly Brant's room.

10/18/2019

Please note: The Friends of Johnson Hall's Haunted Hayride, originally scheduled for the nights of October 18th &19th, will be postponed until next fall.

10/11/2019

With our Woman on a Wheel lecture taking place tomorrow (October 12th), guided tours of Johnson Hall will be offered at 10 am, 11 am, 3 pm, & 4pm.

"My curse upon your venom'd stang,That shoots my totur'd gums alang,An' thro' my lug gies mony a twang,Wi' gnawing venge...
10/09/2019

"My curse upon your venom'd stang,
That shoots my totur'd gums alang,
An' thro' my lug gies mony a twang,
Wi' gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
Like racking engines!"

Robert Burns penned these lines in his "Address to the Toothache" in 1786. While Sir William never heard this poem, he would have commiserated with the Scottish bard's words, for you see Sir William's teeth plagued him. On August 24th, 1770 Sir William lamented over his oral hygiene,

"...myself Tortured with a Violent Tooth Ach I am Sorry I cannot so fully answer as I wish to do."

It appears that his teeth were bothersome for nearly a year, as he sought relief through the purchase of Hamilton's Rose, a medicine said to cure toothaches, throughout 1769. Sir William did acquire toothbrushes in 1771, showing the increased awareness of preventive care in dental hygiene.

For those in the lower classes, the accompanying 1768 mezzotint, "The Ludicrous Operator or Blacksmith," from the British Museum, depicts the means of relieving pain from dental woes.

Happy National Dental Hygiene month!

Extra, extra! Read all about it! While newsies weren’t shouting this on Johnstown’s thoroughfares in its early years, ne...
10/02/2019

Extra, extra! Read all about it! While newsies weren’t shouting this on Johnstown’s thoroughfares in its early years, news was a hot commodity. Newspapers printed in metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and London, eventually found their way to the Mohawk Valley. Each issue of a given publication covered several days of news, advertisements, and employment opportunities. While providing up to date information regarding local politics and cultural events, news from other colonies could be weeks or months old as information slowly reached printing houses. Given his position, Sir William needed to be aware of the latest news through newspapers and correspondence.

This edition of the London Chronicle covered May 31-June 2, 1764. Under the subtitle of “America” Londoners learned of Sir John Johnson’s campaign in Susquehanna territory. The Chronicle’s information could have come from a letter which Sir William penned to Cadwallader Colden on April 6th of that year, “My Son set out with about 200 last Week, and a body of the same Number were gone before him.” #whiteglovewednesday

Looking to put education into your child’s reading? You’re in luck! Our gift shop recently added George Johnson’s War to...
09/27/2019

Looking to put education into your child’s reading? You’re in luck! Our gift shop recently added George Johnson’s War to our merchandise. This historical fiction narrative focuses on Sir William and Molly Brant’s second son, George Johnson, throughout the American Revolution. See how Maureen Garvie & Mary Beatty imagine George handling the complexity of the war and it’s effect on his family, neighbors, and the Six Nations.

09/18/2019
"Macaroni" - A Recipe From 1784

The Wine and Pasta Pairings fundraising event is just around the corner (September 24, 6-8pm) and our stomachs are beginning to rumble! Tickets are still available at our site and Romana's Italian Kitchen. There is limited seating for this event so we recommend buying your tickets in advance. For additional information visit The Friends of Johnson Hall's event page.

As we eagerly wait for September 24th to roll around, feast your eyes on this historic recipe of macaroni and cheese!

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The first full week of school is underway, and teachers have begun to educate the next generation. Education has changed...
09/12/2019

The first full week of school is underway, and teachers have begun to educate the next generation. Education has changed over the years with new philosophies and studies on its importance in human development. The eighteenth century saw an emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge or at least those with the means to comfortably engage their time in such pursuits. The educated upper class wanted to ensure their own children’s future and sent them to boarding schools or hired tutors to teach them. While some children would be sent overseas, Peter Johnson, Sir William and Molly Brant’s oldest son born in 1759, received his education in North America.

Access to advanced tutoring required Peter to travel and live in Schenectady, Albany, Montreal, and Philadelphia, for his education. His early years would focus on the basics of arithmetic, reading, and writing. Once gaining skills in those areas, Peter moved onto practical enterprises such as an apprenticeship. Apprentices studied a specific trade over several years which would become their future vocation. At the age of 15, Peter was learning the ropes to become a successful merchant from William Barrell, who sold both local and imported goods in Philadelphia, with the hopes of opening a store of his own once he was older.

While Peter was fluent in Mohawk and English, Francis Wade sought to improve Peter's other language skills while in Philadelphia, “…hitherto he [Peter] has not had an opprty. Of Improvg. In the French, but I am on a plan that I think will keep him in mind of it, & he may improve with the assistance of some books which I intend to provide for him...” Knowledge and fluency in other languages would be a very practical addition to one’s education. Throughout the thirteen colonies Dutch, French, and German could be commonly heard alongside English and Native American dialects. Fluency in these languages could further one’s personal and business relationships.

Rounding out his education, Peter studied music, “Mr. Wade has bought an Extreme good Violin for me.” While important to his studies, Sir William worried Peter’s interest level in the violin might hinder his advancement in other subjects. Francis Wade assured Sir William that Peter would receive a well-balanced education guiding him toward a bright future.

Unfortunately, Peter Johnson would not have the opportunity to continue with his education following the death of his father and the outbreak of the American Revolution. Peter would join arms with the British army and died at the age of seventeen.

"Paper & Pen bad & tho the Wine is good don't think by this Scrawl that I or anybody here is tipsey."- Hugh Wallace to S...
08/30/2019

"Paper & Pen bad & tho the Wine is good don't think by this Scrawl that I or anybody here is tipsey."- Hugh Wallace to Sir William August 1773

Wine, one of the common spirits found at the dinner table and most enjoyed with good company. Delicious wine, entertainment, and raffles await you at the Wine and Pasta Pairings fundraising event sponsored by the Friends of Johnson Hall. Satisfy your senses on September 24th, 6-8 pm, at Sam's Seafood Steakhouse on Comrie Avenue in Johnstown. Tickets sold will help the Friends continue to support the ongoing restoration work at Johnson Hall and can be purchased at our site and Romana's Italian Kitchen (also on Comrie Avenue). Visit the Friends' event page for additional information.

A big thank you to all the reenactors who helped bring Johnson Hall’s neighbors to life! We heard great questions being ...
07/18/2019

A big thank you to all the reenactors who helped bring Johnson Hall’s neighbors to life! We heard great questions being asked throughout the day and hope our visitors walked away wanting to know more about Johnstown in the 18th century!

Ready, aim, fire! A simple phrase to mutter but a difficult one to master with colonial firearms. For hunting or defense...
07/10/2019

Ready, aim, fire! A simple phrase to mutter but a difficult one to master with colonial firearms. For hunting or defense, accessories such as gun powder, wadding, and ramrods were necessary for firearm usage. Men created powder horns for personal storage and transport of gun powder as they traveled through the fields and forests. As the name suggests these vessels were made from animal horns with no part of the animal going to waste. These powder horns could be plain or engraved. The horn in Johnson Hall’s collection dates back to the 1760-1780s with detailed engravings of the Hudson River from New York City up to the North Country. Some familiar forts dot the landscape of the powder horn including, Crown Point, Fort Ontario, and Fort Ticonderoga. All three forts can still be visited today where you can learn how the French and English defended the territories they claimed as their own in the colony of New York. #whiteglovewednesday

07/05/2019

Need a new pair of shoes? Well, John Looney’s the one you’ll want to see. You won’t see his shop downtown, but residents of Johnstown knew him way back in the day. He earned his living with the skill of his hands, creating shoes for Sir William, Native Americans, and slaves.

Join us July 14th for “Who Were the People in Your Neighborhood?” from 10 am- 4 pm. Mingle with colonial residents of Johnstown and of Johnson Hall who will talk about their lives. A tailor, a blacksmith, and cordwainer (shoemaker) will demonstrate their trades, while a tenant farmer and house servant will interpret their duties on the property. Finally, a Seneca visitor will give insight into his culture, business and personal relationship with Sir William Johnson. The reenactors will break from noon to 12:30pm, but the Hall remains open for visitation.

Each week our interpreters go beyond the stanchions wearing their white gloves as they dust and clean collections within...
06/26/2019

Each week our interpreters go beyond the stanchions wearing their white gloves as they dust and clean collections within Johnson Hall. We hope these posts will give our followers a more in depth look at the furnishings within Sir William's household and their purposes. #whiteglovewednesday

In our blue parlor hangs a print of King George III. This mezzotint print was produced in 1772 and based off Johan Zoffany's portrait of King George III in 1771. King George III began his reign over Great Britain and her colonies in 1760, at the age of 22, following the death of his grandfather King George II. Seven years into his reign, King George III knighted Sir John, Sir William's oldest son, who traveled from the Mohawk Valley to Great Britain with Lord Adam Gordon. The next 8 years of King George's reign would be fraught with news of rebellion brewing in the American colonies until outright war in 1775. Sir John would remain loyal to the king during the American Revolution despite opposition from Mohawk Valley rebels.

While this mezzotint print is not original to Johnson Hall, prints of the king, queen, and royal family were listed among items on the 1774 probate inventory.

Interested in learning more about King George III, his life and reign? Visit the official page of the British royal family https://www.royal.uk/george-iii.

Have you ever considered the effect that time and place have had on our understanding of measurements? Reading through h...
06/21/2019

Have you ever considered the effect that time and place have had on our understanding of measurements? Reading through historical documents you may come across measurements which have passed into antiquity and cause you to scratch your head. What exactly was a tierce of best spirits?

Thankfully for us, the Encyclopedia Britannica’s first volumes were published between 1768-1771 and you can find most units of measurements defined within its pages, “TIERCE, or TEIRCE, a measure of liquid things, as wine, oil, etc. containing the third part of a pipe, or forty two gallons.” A tun was the largest unit that could be transported but in the case of Sir William’s household, pipes and hogsheads, ½ and ¼ of a tun respectively, were more commonly imported.

You too can use the first edition Encyclopedia Britannica for online research through the National Library of Scotland's digital collections!

#TBT    Here is a look at our groovy, special collections regarding the history of Johnson Hall. The Office of Parks, Re...
06/13/2019

#TBT Here is a look at our groovy, special collections regarding the history of Johnson Hall. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation sent these out of sight flyers to promote their historic sites. From the far out design and color scheme, it appears these flyers were created in the 1970s. Johnson Hall appeared alongside Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Crailo State Historic Site, and Guy Park Manor. Can you dig it?

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.

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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