The Persen House, owned by Ulster County since 1914, has undergone extensive restoration since emergency repairs in 1999 revealed its historical significance. Preservation Architect Kenneth Barricklo's Historic Structure Report reveals that the house was built in five distinct phases from 1661 to 1922. The house has witnessed the entire documented history of Kingston and even pre-dates the formation of Ulster County. By touring the house, visitors can learn many important aspects of our local history.
The Persen House is named for its longest living resident, Matthewis Persen. Born in the house in 1739 to Cornelius and Catharina Persen, Matthewis lived and worked out of this house until his death in 1819 at age 80. View the Persen Family Tree.
However, the Persen family were not the first family to own the house. In 1661, the house was built for Gysbert Van Imbroch (and his family) who was brought to the area to serve as the village's barber-surgeon. A permanent exhibit at the Persen House, Gysbert’s Inventory, focuses on the 1665 inventory of Gysbert Van Imbroch's possessions, taken at his request of shortly before his death. Originally written in Dutch, this primary source document was translated to English circa 1900 and lists all of the items found in the house at the time of Mr. Van Imbroch's death. Over 1,400 items are listed including books, medical equipment, household items, livestock, clothing and more. How many of these items are still used today? The answer might surprise you!
The Matthewis Persen House Timeline
1661 The house is built of wood. Gysbert Van Imbroch and wife Rachel live in the house with their three children: Lysbet, Johannes, and Gysbert
1663 The house is burned in a Native American attack and rebuilt in stone.
1666 After the death of their father, the Van Imbroch children rent out the house while they live with their guardian.
1669 Phase 1 completed and Phase 2 starts.
1688 Robert Bickerstaff owns the property.
1689 Robert Bickerstaff and his wife Elizabeth transfer the property to Thomas Hall, Elizabeth’s eldest son from a previous marriage.
1698 Phase 2 completed and Phase 3 is started and Thomas Hall transfers the property to Teunis Tappen.
1724 Teunis Tappen’s will, dated June 12, 1724, puts the responsibility of selling the house on his brother, Christopher Tappen.
1728 Christopher Tappen transfers property to Anthony Slecht.
1734 Cornelius Persen marries Catharina Dyrk Oosterhout.
1735 Anthony Slecht transfers property to Cornelius Persen. Phase 3 completed and Phase 4 begins.
1735-1769 Families of Cornelius and Adam Persen (both tailors) live in the house.
1737 Adam Persen marries Catalyntje Swart.
1739 Matthewis Persen is born of Cornelius and Catharina Person.
1769 Cornelius Persen leaves his house and properties to his four children in his will dated August 8, 1769.
1770 Matthewis Persen buys out his siblings’ shares of the house. He is now the sole owner and begins to operate a public house or tavern.
1777 One house and one barn belonging to Matthewis Persen are listed as having been destroyed in the burning of Kingston by the British.
1778 Phase 4 completed (modified 1778-1850 and again 1850-1922).
1819 Estimated date of death of Matthewis Persen (80 years old).
1820 Dr. John Goodwin has a grocery store and apothecary in the house.
1830 Hiram Radcliff is granted a grocery license for the house on the corner of John and Crown. He is most likely renting the building.
1837 Henry Myer, John Van Buren and others (many married to nieces of Matthewis Persen) transfer the property to Hiram Radcliff.
1914 Charles Romeyn, who lives on 64th Street in New York City, transfers the house to County of Ulster.
1922 County adds brick addition (Phase 5). Farm and Extension Services as well as the local 4-H club, and later the Cornell Cooperative Extension occupy the building.
1964 Persen House is the subject of a Kingston Board of Supervisor’s meeting. Renovations discussed as well as the option of moving the Agricultural Extension into the new County Building.
1999 Cornell Cooperative Extension is relocated for emergency roof stabilization.
2000 Historic Structures Report prepared to establish basis for restoration of house.
2004 Archeological dig recovers over 20,000 artifacts. Report and Finds Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
2007 Opened for public tours on Saturdays during the Kingston Farmers’ Market by the Friends of Historic Kingston with permission of the County Legislature.
2010 Opened for the first full tour season and staffed by Ulster County Clerk Youth Workers Tuesday through Saturday from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
2013 Persen House is the subject of a curriculum guide created by the Ulster County Clerk’s Office through a NYS Archives Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund grant: Wiltwyck – A Look at Life in a Dutch 17th Century Ulster County Town
2016 The Ulster County Clerk’s Office receives funding from a NYS Archives Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund grant to install a permanent exhibit at the Persen House, titled Gysbert’s Inventory, featuring the 1665 inventory of the house’s first occupant Gysbert Van Imbroch.