Schuyler Flatts

Schuyler Flatts Mansion

Much has been written about the rich history of the Schuyler Flatts. Situated on the Hudson River north of Albany, New York, the site's archeological history can be traced back 6,000 years. During Dutch colonial times, the land was owned by Rensselaer and the Schuyler family is thought to have purchased the land from him in 1672. It became a trading outpost with the local Mohawks and Mohicans and, later, for goods that flowed on the Hudson River and the Erie Canal, which divided the property in 1825.

A farm house was built by 1690, but burned down around 1760. The house was rebuilt with a new wing that faced the Hudson River. The farm housed Indians that had been driven away by French raiders and was a social nexus in Revolutionary times. The farm had slaves (slavery was abolished in New York in 1827) and American soldiers were encamped here during the war of independence. The house remained in the Schuyler family until 1910, when it passed into the Beattie family.

Guy Beattie, my great grandfather, rented the farm and a separate farmhouse from the Schuyler family in 1899. In 1910, he bought the Schuyler mansion and surrounding farm from the family, ending over 200 years of continuous ownership in the Schuyler family.

My grandfather, G. Schuyler Beattie, was the youngest son of Guy and Mary Killough Beattie, and he was the only one of their nine children born in the Schuyler mansion.

Guy Beattie farmed the land for several decades, but ultimately retired and sold the property around 1950. I believe it became a convalescent home for a short time in the 1950s, then lay abandoned until it burned down in 1962, four years after Guy Beattie's death.

The Farm

The first photo below shows the farm house that the Beatties rented in 1899; Broadway (Route 32) is in the background and the Schuyler house is behind the photographer. Most of the Beattie's children were born in this house.

The middle photo is beside the first photo geographically and contains a barn that has all hand hewed and pegged construction. The story that is passed down in our family is that this barn was a hospital during the Revolutionary War, but a historical architect I spoke with cast doubt on whether this barn is that old.

The photo on the right shows the fields looking southwest. On the horizon is the top of the Riverview Center in Manands, at that time it was the Montgomery Ward store and distribution center.

Schuyler Flatts Farm

Schuyler Flatts Farm

Schuyler Flatts Farm

Schuyler Flatts Farm

Schuyler Flatts Farm

Schuyler Flatts Farm

Guy Beattie grew a variety of vegetables on the farm and sold them at the Troy outdoor market on Hill and Liberty Streets (among other places, I'm sure). That site remains an outdoor market today. He had several employees who worked the farm and enlisted kids (including his own) over the summers.

In the top row, center, Guy Beattie is the adult sitting on the carriage and Schuyler Beattie (my grandfather) is the youngest one in the carriage. On the right, top row, Guy Beattie is standing beside the carriage holding his daughter Mary's hand while young Schuyler stands beside her.

In the bottom row, Guy Beattie shows off his parsnips and carrots and his spinach patch. In the center are the summer farmhands. Schuyler Beattie is in the front row, center, sulking.

Bill White in the Corn Field

Bill White in the Corn Field

On the Farm

On the Farm

Ready For Market

Ready For Market

Dad, Parsnips, and Carrots

Dad, Parsnips, and Carrots

Summer Farmhands

Summer Farmhands

Dad in the Spinach Patch, 1928

Dad in the Spinach Patch, 1928

The Schuyler House

The Schuyler Flatts house sat nobly on the banks of the Hudson River for centuries. Interstate 787 was completed here in the early 1970s and now severs the site's connection to the river. It also melded the nearby islands onto the mainland.

My grandfather, Schuyler Beattie, was the last person born in the house, and my mother, Rosamond Beattie Abbott, is arguably one of the last people to have a visceral memory of the house. They lived there on and off in the 1940s before moving to Illinois in 1949, when Rosamond was eight years old. Before they moved, Schuyler snapped a bunch of photos of the house (below) circa 1948. In them you can see his children, Rosamond on the porch in the first one, with his daughter Mary running in the grass. His daughter Linda appears in the first photo in the second row.

Schuyler Flatts House

Schuyler Flatts House

Schuyler Flatts Front

Schuyler Flatts Front

Schuyler Flatts House

Schuyler Flatts House

Back of the Flatts

Back of the Flatts

A few other photos showing the house include a young Schuyler Beattie beside their first car. In this photo, the driveway has not yet been realigned and loops on the north side of the house. Later, the driveway will loop on the west side of the house.

In the center photo, Schuyler Beattie is in the foreground, along with his mother, Mary Ann Killough Beattie, and his sisters Kathryn and Elizabeth (Biddy). In the background, the newly built (1933) bridge connecting Troy and Menands is visible.

The last photo on the right is a family photo with four generations. They are posing at the front door to the house, which faces the river. The matriarchs are sitting front and center and were born in 1854 and 1849, respectively. Guy Beattie and his wife, Mary Ann Killough Beattie, sit in the center, while Schuyler Beattie sits in the center row, left.

Schuyler, Pierce, and Rover

Schuyler, Pierce, and Rover

At the Flatts

At the Flatts

Beattie Family Portrait

Beattie Family Portrait

A few playful photos of life at the house. In the center, Schuyler Beattie poses, albeit blurry, in their outhouse before it's finally torn down in the early 1930s. On the right, Schuyler and his daughter (my mother), Rosamond Beattie, pose in front of the Flatts in the early 40s.

Ed Hollander and Schuyler Beattie

Ed Hollander and Schuyler Beattie

Schuyler Beattie in the Outhouse

Schuyler Beattie in the Outhouse

Roz Beattie at 16 Months

Roz Beattie at 16 Months

Many photos were taken out in the driveway showing the back of the house (flash technology was not yet available, so we have no interior photos of the home). Here, Guy Beattie and his wife Mary Killough Beattie pose with their grandchildren, Rosamond Beattie (later Abbott) and Linda Beattie (later Evans). The center photo shows off the gardens around the home, with Rosamond Beattie and friends playing in the sprinkler. The rightmost photo was taken when Guy Beattie hosted the circus on the farm, a regular event throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

Ros and Linda with Their Grandparents

Ros and Linda with Their Grandparents

Grandma's Garden Parade

Grandma's Garden Parade

Hosting the Circus

Hosting the Circus

Guy Beattie sold the house and property around 1950. It was a convalescent home for some time, but later was abandoned. In 1957, a historical plaque was installed on the house, which was painted white by then.

Schuyler Flatts House

Schuyler Flatts House

Schuyler Flatts Historical Sign

Schuyler Flatts Historical Sign

After the house burned down in 1962, the plaque was rescued and rededicated in 2002 and sits in the Schuyler Flatts Historical Park. A number of markers denote its historical significance. Today, a loose outline of the house is marked in stone. On a recent visit, Rosamond Beattie Abbott stands inside the house's foundation with a view looking west toward the old farm and Broadway.

Schuyler Flatts Plaque

Schuyler Flatts Plaque

National Historic Landmark

National Historic Landmark

Historic Places

Historic Places

Schuyler Flatts Traced

Schuyler Flatts Traced

Inside the Flatts

Inside the Flatts

My grandfather, G. Schuyler Beattie, built a small fish pond beside the Schuyler Flatts house in 1934. Traces of this rectangular cement pond are the only visible remnants that survive from the days when people lived on this land.

Mom at Schuyler's Fish Pond

Mom at Schuyler's Fish Pond

Schuyler Beattie, Packed and Ready

Schuyler Beattie, Packed and Ready

Schuyler's Fish Pond

Schuyler's Fish Pond

Today, the Schuyler Flatts is a National Historic Landmark, an archeological district, and a public park. People jog on its paths and play soccer on its sprawling lawn. I have a different sense of this place—I imagine my relatives who worked the earth, grew up, and formed new families. I imagine kids playing by the river bank and on the adjacent islands. I recall my grandfather, who carried the name of the Flatts but was not related to the Schuyler family, with his deep respect and love for the Flatts—he cherished the very bricks from which the house was built. I've come to know a lot about my relatives by understanding this modest plot of land along the Hudson, and it's nice to know it will remain there for future generations to behold.