Huguenot Street

Huguenot St. in New Paltz, New York is the Oldest Authentic Street in America: Where is it and who founded it?  Don’t  look to the Pilgrims or Williamsburg for this.  Check out New Paltz in NY’s Hudson Valley founded by the Huguenots.  David Levine tells the TALE in the HEAR and THEN via HEAR about HERE audio. 

Image of the The Abraham (Daniel) Hasbrouck House by Daniel case via a Creative Commons License

Discovering Huguenot Street: America’s Overlooked Colonial Pioneers

While the Puritans take center stage in early American history, there’s another group of newcomers that often goes unnoticed: the French-speaking Calvinist Protestants known as Huguenots and Walloons. S Fleeing persecution in Europe, these settlers established a colony in the Hudson Valley just 57 years after Plymouth Plantation. Despite their contributions, their story remains hidden in the shadow of their English colonial peers.

A Hidden Gem: the Authenticity  of Huguenot Street

In the heart of the Hudson Valley lies Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark District that includes  the oldest intact late-seventeenth-century stone houses in the United States. Unlike reconstructed historic sites, Huguenot Street boasts authentic dwellings that were owned by the same families for over 350 years. This remarkable continuity sets it apart as a true living museum of family history.

Escape from Persecution: From Europe to the New World

Similar to the Puritans, the Calvinists (Huguenots and Walloons) escaped religious persecution in their homeland. In 1678, twelve families known as the Duzine purchased 40,000 acres of land from the Esopus Indians on the west side of the Hudson River. They named their settlement Die Pfalz (New Paltz) in honor of the refuge they found in Germany. The village operated as a commune, with the Duzine sharing land, products, and labor.

Architecture- Built to Last

The early settlers initially constructed wooden houses, which were later replaced by stone dwellings along Huguenot Street. Seven of these stone houses, erected between 1705 and 1799, remain today. These houses feature intricate stonework and unique design elements, preserving the cultural heritage of their occupants. Additionally, the site houses a reconstructed 1717 French church, original burial grounds, and an exhibition center within a 1705 fort.

Diversity: Legacy of Huguenot Street

The Huguenots’ lasting impact on early America extends beyond their architecture. Their diverse community, which included Dutch, French, English, Native Americans, and slaves, reflects  the nation’s future cultural tapestry. These settlers unknowingly set the stage for the diversity that defines America today.

For more info on this tale and others about New York’s Hudson Valley, check out “The Hudson Valley: The First 250 Million Years”  by David Levine.

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