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Photographer: Kelbert McFarland Photography


Dutch Colonial President

Martin Van Buren is the first president we will look at who was not a British colonist. He was born in Dutch Colonial New York which was not a historical area we knew a ton about prior to knowing my (Ginny's) husband, who grew up in a early 1700s Dutch Colonial house in the Hudson Valley. While our ancestors all came from the English colonies (primarily Jamestown) and we grew up in the South, we surely got our share of Massachusetts Bay Colony history in school and have some ancestors who were "pilgrims" as well... but Dutch Colonial history and President Van Buren himself are often glazed over in our region. (And Elinor was a history major!) As we were saying, we have learned a LOT about Dutch Colonial life now and will share that in another post sometime but for now let's get to Van Buren.

From National Park Media

It is somewhat unclear whether he was of the ruling family in Buren in the Netherlands but likely he was. The Van Buren surname is sometimes used by the royal family of the Netherlands (otherwise known as Orange-Nassau), a monarchy which is still intact just like the English. The castle of Buren was destroyed in the 19th century sadly. However the Captain Van Buren came to Rensselaer, NY in the early 1600s so we are not sure which castle they would have lived in anyways timeline-wise. His son, Pieter Martensen Van Buren, was then born in nearby Bethlehem, the town where my in-laws live; their house is known as "Bethlehem House" as it is a historical marker. However after him, the family settled in Kinderhook. Lindenwald was the name of the house the president bought for his family in Kinderhook. It is a Georgian style house set in a National Park today that you can visit and next time we go home to my husband's house I will have to go see it- looks to be about 20 minutes from his house! The house has a Palladian window. And Van Buren added a Tuscan-style tower and "front porch that combined elements of Gothic and Romanesque design." Inside there is much carved woodwork. The house today features the style of our president with Empire furniture, his China pattern, and even original French wallpaper. The following pictures of the interior are actually from Trip Advisor, until I make my own little trip over to see it.