The Jan Mabee House and Farm, located several miles west of Schenectady in the Mohawk River valley, is a significant example of an early eighteenth-century farmhouse that remained in the ownership of the same family for almost 300 years retains much of its original material and design. The property in fact retains three separate houses that, with the family graveyard, are the sole surviving structures from an extensive agrarian homestead. Relocation of a Dutch style barn and an English style barn to the site during the past decade has recreated the major agricultural outbuildings that once stood on the site.
Of the three structures, the “stone house” was constructed c. 1705, the “brick house” dated to c. 1750, and the “inn” was built in the 1790s. All are little altered from their original size and form, and interiors retain many original features, including late-eighteenth and early nineteenth century trim, mantels, doors, hardware and other elements. Two of the structures — the “brick house” and the “inn”— have not been used as dwellings for over a century and, as a result, were never altered for such modern amenities as central heating, indoor plumbing, or electric power and lighting. Collectively, the buildings preserve the form and methods of construction characteristic of rural dwelling designs that were brought by Dutch and French Huguenot settlers to the Hudson and Mohawk River Valleys in the seventeenth century.
Mr. Petito, as principal and project manager for John G. Waite Associates, Architects, PLLC, led a project team to document the Mabee House with a historic structure report and measured drawings. The report contains a history of the ownership of the building and an analysis of the evolution of its form and finishes. Examination of the house revealed significant eighteenth and early-nineteenth century interior features and finishes. The existing conditions section of the report recorded the condition of materials and finishes of the exterior and interior of the building. Problems of repair were also observed and inventoried. Restoration recommendations were prioritized so that damaging conditions would be remedied immediately, while less serious problems that would not affect the long-term stability of the structure could be accomplished as funds became available.
As a first phase toward the stabilization and restoration of the buildings, Mr. Petito directed the preparation of contract documents for replacement of roofing, partial reconstruction of the stone foundation wall and the brick exterior wall, and insertion of stainless steel tension rods with turnbuckles in the attic of the “brick house.” Windows were restored and the exterior was painted after other construction work was completed.