The Luykas Van Alen House is a relatively intact example of eighteenth-century Dutch domestic architecture in the upper Hudson Valley. The southern half (left, above) was constructed in 1737 as a two room house, but enlarged with a stairhall and additional room around 1750. The house remains a one-and-one-half story brick faced wood post-and-beam structure with a steep-pitched wood shingle roof. With a full cellar and a garret on the upper level, the first floor contains a stair hall and three main rooms. Recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1934 along with other regional Dutch vernacular architecture, the house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
Occupied by members of the Van Alen family until the early 1930s, the house remained unoccupied and minimally maintained until the early 1960s. Following its acquisition by the Columbia County Historical Society, several campaigns of reconstruction and structural repairs were performed during the 1960s and 1980s, and mechanical system alterations were made. Currently the building is operated seasonally as a historic house museum without the intrusion of modern heating and lighting systems. Several scenes for the 1993 movie The Age of Innocence were filmed in and around the house.
As a principal and project manager for John G. Waite Associates, Architects, PLLC, Robert A. Petito Jr. managed the preparation of a historic structure report that evaluated the condition of wood timbers, brick masonry, roofing shingles, and noticeably high levels of humidity. The project included archival research, architectural descriptions, identification of problems of repair, and development of recommendations for restoration and stabilization. A year-long monitoring study recorded temperature and humidity in all three levels of the house and compared those readings with samples taken at the exterior of the house and the regional weather bureau station. Recommendations focused on the replacement of roofing and gutter systems, regrading around the house and underground drainage, and removal of a pond that had been added in the 1960s. Subsequent restoration work focused on securing the exterior from water and weather infiltration, and included: major structural repairs to roof rafters, wood posts, and top plate members; replacement of roofing shingles and underlayment; new wood gutters; repair and reconstruction of brick chimneys and parapet walls; brick and stone repointing; repairs to windows and doors, reconstruction of porches, underground drainage, and site grading.