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Op-Ed: Saving a Vital Piece of History in Tarrytown: The Acker Farmhouse

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March 3, 2019

by Richard Rose, Tar­ry­town Vil­lage His­to­rian 


Liv­ing in a com­mu­nity like Tar­ry­town at­tracts res­i­dents who value the charm and at­mos­phere of a his­toric vil­lage. Tar­ry­town is full of life with its restau­rants, River­Walk Park, Mu­sic Hall and most im­por­tantly its his­tory. We can walk the Main Street His­toric Dis­trict, the path­ways around the lakes and soon, the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, eat at great restau­rants, and at­tend houses of wor­ship of our choice.

And, now we have the op­por­tu­nity to land­mark a cot­tage, orig­i­nally built on the Fred­er­ick Philipse Manor Es­tate. This es­tate ini­tially ex­tended from the Bronx to Cro­ton, con­sist­ing of a large por­tion of Westch­ester County. The cot­tage was built in the Old Dutch style and has been ex­panded twice since its orig­i­nal con­struc­tion in ap­prox­i­mately 1750. This is the old­est build­ing stand­ing in Tar­ry­town to­day and is owned by the Uni­fi­ca­tion Church. The cot­tage is lo­cated at 740 South Broad­way, just north of Tax­ter Road on what was once the Old Broad Way.

It has been sub­stan­ti­ated through ex­ten­sive re­search that Steven Acker and his fam­ily were ten­ant farm­ers who lived in this cot­tage. Acker was a hero of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War and is rec­og­nized at the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War Mon­u­ment in the Sleepy Hol­low Ceme­tery. A later owner, John Forkill, was a friend of Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing who lived nearby at the end of Sun­ny­side Lane. Irv­ing spent time with his friend Forkill at the cottage.

The Philipse fam­ily mem­bers were Loy­al­ists dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War, and, con­se­quently, their en­tire es­tate was con­fis­cated by the Pa­tri­ots and sold at auc­tion. Ja­cob Van Tas­sel then pur­chased the prop­erty con­tain­ing the cot­tage and sev­eral other build­ings. Since he was also a ten­ant liv­ing on the es­tate, he had the right of first re­fusal at the prop­erty auc­tion in the mid-1780’s.

This cot­tage is unique be­cause it helps us re­mem­ber and un­der­stand the im­por­tance of the com­mon man in the de­vel­op­ment of Tar­ry­town and Westch­ester County. They did the phys­i­cal la­bor that made the area eco­nom­i­cally suc­cess­ful. With­out the av­er­age worker and farmer, the great es­tates could not be­come so pro­duc­tive. They were the sol­diers and the la­bor­ers.

The Tar­ry­town Board of Trustees has held two pub­lic hear­ings to con­sider land­mark­ing this prop­erty. This is the process by which land­mark­ing has taken place for other build­ings and neigh­bor­hoods in or­der to pro­tect their his­toric na­ture. The His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and many other com­mu­nity mem­bers sup­port our main­tain­ing this im­por­tant prop­erty as part of our rich lo­cal her­itage.




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