The Mill House site, located on the border between Ulster County and orange County, is listed in the national Register of Historic Places "in recognition of its historical and architectural significance and to encourage its preservation".
The site is occupied by a stone trading post built in the first decade of the 18th century by Luis Moses Gomez, a Sephardic Jew whose ancestors had fled the Spanish inquisition. After Gomez died, the property was purchased, and the house expanded, by Wolfert Acker who, in 1775 chaired the Committee on Safety. In 1912 Dard Hunter, an innovative Arts & Crafts paper maker, bought the property and further modified it. The land has a number of structures: immediately west of the trading post are the "Slave Quarters" (an attributed use - neither confirmed nor disproved), a Root Cellar and the remains of a privy. In 1913 Dard Hunter built the picturesque "rustic" thatched Mill with a swayback footbridge on "Jews Creek" as a perfect "eye catcher".
The goals of the Master Plan were to formulate an interpretation for this nationally important multi-layered, multi-cultural site and to propose a phased preservation plan to meet the budgetary constraints of the Foundation.
We prepared a time line to understand the successive occupations of the site and situate them in a broader historical context. We prepared analytical drawings, overlaying the historical configurations over the present maps. This resulted in a proposal to re-orient access to the site so that visitors would come from up from the river side as opposed to abruptly coming down from the road - an awkward approach even if one does not know the historical progression. With this important shift, everything falls in place: the creek recovers its importance as a way finder and the house recovers its proper relationship to the Hudson River - the historical life line for the whole region.
As the interior of the house consists of many historical layers, we proposed a series of "windows into the past", small strategic cuts, to give visitors a view into earlier surfaces and techniques.
Owner: Gomez Foundation for Mill House
Scope of Services: Architectural and Historic Preservation services: Investigation, Photography; Interpretation, Programming, Coordination with Archaeology Team and incorporation of its conclusions in Master Plan.
Preservation Architect: Françoise Bollack Architects
Structural Engineer: Robert Silman Associates Archaeology: Heritage America.