Du Bois Homestead “The Old Fort”
The “Old Fort” built in compliance with Gov. Edmund Andros’ order was to be used “for a place of Retreat and Safeguard”. Although there are three gun ports on the ground floor, it is said no shots were ever fired from them against Indians.
The iron figures on the outside wall suggest the Fort was built in 1705. An early description sites it as “an old fashioned one story house with a basement”. The 1798 tax list indicated a one and one half story stone dwelling. In the 1830’s the house evolved into the current two story structure with garret. The eighteenth century jamless fireplace is converted to a jammed fireplace. The two story, four bay porch verandas are added.
Until the 1920’s the Fort was lived in by DuBois family members or rented as a home to local New Paltz people. In the ’20’s it became a tearoom, and then in the ’30s a restaurant run by Elsie Hanna Oates. Alice Crans, in 1976 continued the operation of this homestyle restaurant until retirement in 1990.
The Fort now houses the gift shop of Historic Huguenot Street and the HHS Tour Office. The upstairs rooms are used for exhibits. In 2000 the DBFA helped HHS fund an Historic Structures Report that recommends an effective planning framework for appropriate restoration of the building. Tree-ring dating with this report has confirmed the 1705 construction date.
Historic Huguenot Street through its endowment for the Fort, and the writing of grants and the DBFA through fund raising together ensure that the building will continue to be restored and preserved.