Open Space Institute celebrates reopening of Van Buren Homestead in Kinderhook, New York

NEW YORK, NY - May 18, 2006 - Lindenwald, home of the 8th U.S. President, Martin Van Buren, has been a focal point of the Open Space Institute's agricultural conservation strategy in Kinderhook, New York, for many years. This weekend, Lindenwald will be re-opened after extensive preservation of its interior and exterior surroundings, some of which has been farmed continuously since Martin Van Buren planted his first seed. 

Situated in northwestern Columbia County, Kinderhook has served as an agricultural breadbasket for centuries. The earliest farmers were Native Americans, followed by Dutch settlers beginning in the seventeenth century. According to Open Space Institute president, Joe Martens, the conservation of Kinderhook's rich agricultural history has been a critical component of the organization's conservation strategy in the Hudson River Valley. “For close to ten years, the conservation of the Kindherhook Creek Corridor has been a high priority for OSI. By working with a unique set of partners, including the National Park Service, State and local government, other nonprofits, and private parties, we have preserved a critical piece of our nation's history, productive farmland, and a potential recreational resource,” said Martens. 

Martens noted that several farms in the Kinderhook Creek Corridor, including the 400-acre Bortugno Farm and Roxbury Farm, have been permanently protected through agricultural easements crafted by OSI. “Our strategy is to protect as much as possible of the original Van Buren property while also preserving the agricultural heritage of the historic corridor surrounding the Kinderhook Creek. We are working closely with NPS, Congressman Sweeney's office, and others to legislatively expand the Historic Site boundary to encompass most of President Van Buren's original farm.” Martens also noted that the Open Space Institute is working to create a riverside trail, from the village of Kindherhook to Stuyvesnt Falls, to enhance public access and enjoyment of Kinderhook Creek. 

Since 1998, the Open Space Institute has protected 732 acres in the immediate surroundings of Lindenwald, which grew to 220 acres in size when the 8th president lived there and created a working farm. All but about 20 acres of the original Van Buren estate remains as productive farmland. 

Dan Dattilio, superintendent of the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, noted that farmland protected by OSI along the western boundary of the park had been continuously farmed since Van Buren's ownership. “This is land that was purchased and protected for perpetuity by the Open Space Institute thus giving this and future generations the opportunity to better understand and visualize Van Buren's Lindenwald as it was in the 19th Century,” said Dattilio. 

The work at Kinderhook is one of several examples of OSI's efforts to protect historic presidential properties in New York State. Some others include: 

Washington's Headquarters & Washington's Lookout 
During the final days of the Revolutionary War, General George Washington resided in a farmhouse in Newburgh, Orange County,just twelve miles north of West Point. Washington chose the site because of its perch on the Hudson River which afforded expansive views. In 2003, OSI acquired a 1.6 acre parcel to protect the immediate viewhsed of the farmhouse, the first publicly operated historic site in the country, now converted to a museum. OSI also protected a rocky promontory on the flanks of Buckberg Mountain in Rockland County. Known as Washington's Lookout, the property was reputedly used by Washington to plan a surprise attack on British troops, leading to the Battle of Stony Point. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt's “Top Cottage” 
The peaceful and remote “Top Cottage” in Hyde Park, New York, served as a refuge for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, where he could retreat and enjoy views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. Roosevelt designed the cottage, built in 1938, to reflect his love of Dutch Colonial architecture and to ensure wheelchair accessibility. OSI acquired the cottage and 94 acres surrounding it, in 1996, and later donated it to the National Park Service. The retreat served as a precursor for “Camp David” providing a setting for entertaining visiting dignitaries, including Winston Churchill and the King and Queen of England. Top Cottage is a National Historic Landmark. 

Teddy Roosevelt's “Midnight Ridge to the Presidency” 
Famous as a mining center in the early 1800s, the Village of Adirondac in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, now abandoned, is known for a pivotal moment in U.S. Presidential history. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was staying at the Tahawus Club in 1901 when he received urgent news to rush to the bedside of President McKinley who lay dying from an assassin's bullet. In his “Midnight Ride to the Presidency,” Roosevelt was raced by horse and carriage approximately 30 miles over rough roads to the nearest train station in neighboring North Creek, and shortly thereafter learned that he would become the 26th President of the United States. In its second largest acquisition ever, OSI acquired the 10,000-acre Tahawus Tract, which includes the Village of Adirondac, in 2003, resulting in the permanent protection of the southern gateway to the spectacular Adirondack High Peaks region, which opens to the public pristine, glacially carved lakes.

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