ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Cherry Hill, a historic home located at 523 1/2 South Pearl Street, has a rich history in Albany. Dating back to the 1700s, the home is now museum, which offers tours during the spring, summer and fall.
This is the history of the Historic Cherry Hill. All information is from the Historic Cherry Hill website.
The Cherry Hill Van Rensselaers were part of a group of wealthy and powerful families known as the Hudson River manor lords. Kilian Van Rensselaer (1585-1646), a Dutch merchant, was eventually granted a 850,000-acre tract, called Rensselaerswyck, from the Dutch West India Company.
The English who took over the colony in 1664 patented a larger Rensselaerswyck (1 million acres) and went on to establish about 30 more estates over more than two million acres. These elite Hudson River manor lords derived their wealth from renting these manors.
Cherry Hill was occupied by the Van Rensselaers for many years. The Historic Cherry Hill home itself was built in 1787, in what is now Albany’s South End. As Albany began to experience some economic decline in the 1820s, the Van Rensselaers fortune was in trouble. By 1876, industrialization surrounded Cherry Hill will workers’ houses, an icehouse and a brewery next door.
Cherry Hill was home to Catherine Putman Rankin and her family from 1884 through 1963. Inside, she celebrated her Van Rensselaer family heritage. To cope with the social, economic and political changes in Albany, Catherine chose to look to the past.
The Van Rensselaers chose to preserve and restore Cherry Hill in response to the changing times, and other old Albany families did as well. After five generations of Van Rensselaer family ownership, Emily Rankin, the last Cherry Hill descendant, left her house and its contents to “the people of New York State.” It opened as a museum in 1964, a year after her death.
As a museum, Cherry Hill has thousands of artifacts and manuscripts spanning three centuries. It offers educational programs and tours. The museum is reopening for tours in May 2023.